First 2 weeks volunteering with EHRA
27.08.2012 - 07.09.2012
What an amazing way to start this trip! The last 2 weeks have been fantastic and I will try as best I can to sum it up here for you
Shouts of "More Mix! More Mix" became the mantra of this week as we desperately tried to keep up with Matthais' speedy rock laying and cement demands. We were constructing a 4 sided 5ft tall wall on John's farm north of Khorixas, to protect the water tank from the elephants and with no cement mixer it was all hands to the shovel mixing cement and sand with water in wheelbarrows.
'Rock run' and 'sand run' were the other main tasks that needed to be done, filling the trailer full of as many large flat sided rocks or sand as possible to take back to the wall. This was repeated several times a day and we all became rock experts not only in selecting them but throwing them too, although some could throw in bigger ones than others! I think the sun got to us a bit at times as when you found a good rock it became 'a beautiful rock' and there were definately some instances of random dancing around the wall and lots of loud cackles of laughter!
Everyone needed the 2 hour siesta at lunchtime after all the back breaking work in the heat and also looked forward to the dinner cooked on the camp fire in the evening. On our duty Marcia and I cooked lamb tagine which I am assured was delicious. I'll definately be taking note of some of the recipes and gem squash is now a new favourite!
Once you could only see the top of my hat behind the wall we knew it was tall enough. Completing the wall was a great achievement from digging the foundations to the laying of the final rock.
On our first morning of patrol week we were lucky to find 2 young bull elephants Cheeky and Tsuarab who are about 25-30 years old. Matthais and Bruce spotted them after climbing a rocky outcrop and we all clambered up to get our first view of the wild desert elephants.
The second day we caught up with Mama Africa herd and G6 herd together. It is amazing how so many large elephants hardly make any noise apart from the cracking of the branches as they eat the trees. We were able to get really close and watch them for over an hour. There were several calves in the group only 3 months old and watching them trying to use their trunks was so cute. One tried to mimic the way the older ones kick dirt into a ball in front of them to pick it up and throw over themselves but he couldn't quite get the hang of it!
The females in the group protectively flanked the little ones when they came closer to the trucks and also provided shade for them to take a nap in, although a mischevious one had different ideas and kept jumping on the others to wake them up.
One young bull who is known for coming close to the trucks in hope of finding oranges which are a favourtie he likes to steal came right up to take a closer look, even feeling inside the cab of the truck and touching Bruce whilst searching for them. Finding no oranges he was content to eat the tree next to us but as he let go of the branches they kept hitting Flo in the face who was sitting on top of the truck. He kept so still whilst this was happening it was hard to stiffle the laughs as it looked so funny.
Two young bulls started play fighting and jostling with each other right in front of us, wrapping their trunks together and with an almighty headbut trying to push each other back. You could see them stretching and trying to get a better grip on the ground whilst squaring up to each other. Incredible to see u so close!
INCIDENTS IN THE LAST 2 WEEKS...
- Quantum getting stuck in the sandy riverbed so we all had to dig it out and push
- 2 x trips to the doctor
- 2 x running out of cement
- Dogs eating Gems peanuts and raisins
- Broken radiator pipe on Quantum from tyring to pull it out of the riverbed and being stranded in the desert for 8 hours
- Quantum breaking down again in Khorixas so all 14 of us had to squeeze into a taxi
- No trip to Uis midtrip as Quantum broken down and no petrol
- Brakes stoped working on Bruces truck so we crashed into the back of Matthais' truck and had to wait for Wayne to come to the rescue
- Matthais' truck had problems with the petrol pump, had a flat tyre in the desert and also ran out of fuel!
- Wills broken electronics
- Flo couldn't flow!
- Gem doing a spectacular fall 10ft off the top of the truck!!!! (although I got to use my first aid skills and put her in a sling fortunately only bruises, v lucky!)
ANIMALS WE SAW....
- Cheeky & Tsaurab (2 young bull elephants)
- Mama Africa herd and G6 herd
- Mountain Zebra
- Leopard face vulture
- H1 herd
- African wild cat
- Rhino tracks.... hope to find an actual one on next patrol!
- Lots of Mapani Bees!!!!!! Most annoying fly/bees ever that like to swarm round your eyes and ears!
I'll sign off with a huge thank you to Laura, Dan, Flo, Marcia, Manda, Gem, Kristin, Will, Ed, Chloe for making these last two weeks so much fun! I've not stopped laughing and I wish you all safe journeys home and all the best on your next adventures! xxx