Zimbabwe 94b Diaries – Part 2

8/3/1994

Woke at 0530 hrs to the sound of Eric (Our project Manager) shouting. Someone had taken a dump near a bush instead of going to the longdrop. Breakfast was Sadza porridge and beans, we made the decision to clear the camp floor of any grass so as to be able to see the scorpions at night (last night someone was attacked by a six inch spider). Its Ash’s birthday today and Eric was supposed to return to camp by 1700hrs, he hadn’t returned by 2100hrs so we tried to radio field HQ on the night frequency with no luck. At 2200hrs we radioed the game warden who said that the route he had taken would take him ages and that he wouldn’t be back until late – Eric arrived shortly afterwards having had two blown out tyres and had been changing them on the side of the road with no gun or anything to protect him from big game – the beer that Eric bought back was a bit smashed up when the truck span out, Ash’s birthday bash was postponed.

9/3/1994

I woke up at about 0630, had some breaky and then headed off in the 4×4 to collect some wood for the elephant hyde construction We’re located in the Gonerezhou national park which is pretty cool and has some interesting sites – We cut down a few Ironwood trees and also found some on the side of the road that were ready cut so we took them back – On the way back we saw a giraffe on the track running in front of us, they are amazing. we got back to site and put the logs under the tree and then prepared for Ash’s birthday – we had a few beers, sang a few songs and generally got drunk – I was very dehydrated today, Only had one pee which was very coloured.

10/3/1994

I woke at 0440hrs and it was still dark, I got up, had some more sudza and went to the hyde to start work – I managed to construct two horizontal joists that interlocked over existing branches, the other team finished two other branches on the other side to complete a diamond shape onto which we’d build our platform. we walked for about 10km to look for some elephants, missed a bull elephant by about an hour as it smelt us coming and ran off (the length of stride in the footprints gave it away) – We returned to the watering pan (pre-built for the elephants to drink from) where we had a dip in it and then had dinner.

11/3/1994

Woke at 0500hrs today and Tony and Denford were on breakfast duty – I went to the hyde and laid cross members and floor supports on the first frame which are all ready for tying down now. Group one went for a walk at 0800hrs and returned three and a half hours late as Mathew the game warden got lost. In the afternoon we went to the  watering pan and stayed for about four hours until returning via the hyde to see how the other group had got on. About 1730 hours the park wardens arrived to view the hyde and were pretty impressed. Shortly after they left a massive storm was forming, we had to get into the tents and sit in the corners to weigh them down – The storm was amazing, lightning just continued for an hour and was so regular you could have read a book by it. Evidently I was sleep talking after that and Shuggy and Tony were wetting themselves about it…

12/3/1994

Woke at 0530hrs to find the kitchen tent had blown away in the storm and our whole tent was trashed. We started to rebuild and tidy the camp but I had really bad sunburn and blistering so it was pretty painful. Annabel the medic kept putting cold tea bags on my burns as she reckoned that would help. Yesterday Tony got grumpy at Wes and picked up the game rifle and shot at him, there was no magazine in the rifle but there still could have been a round in the chamber – Not surprisingly Eric did his nut when he found out about that!

13/3/1994

Double malarias tablet day today which will probably make me grumpy at some point. Work continued on the hyde whilst a few of us were taken to the gorge to go swimming – The gorge can only really be described as heaven on earth, rocks form in such a way that it creates a crocodile free zone with diving platforms and a series of caves that are safe to play in. We returned to the hyde in the afternoon to assist with building a safety handrail about one metre above the floor. This afternoon we found a rat in our tent as Denford had left some sweets out, we threw the rat into the fire but it still managed to run away, we threatened Denford not to be so messy.

14/03/1994

Woke at 0500hrs with Phil as team leader for the next three days, we split into two teams with one of the teams heading to  picnic site to start digging a blair toilet – The hole needs to be 1.5m wide by 3m deep, I hurt my leg by swinging a pick axe which went straight into my ankle (NB of which I still have the scar from to this date :)) – there were rats everywhere tonight after it got dark, we started the new game of ‘rat twatting’ which basically means chasing them with a shovel – Tonight’s overall score was 7 dead with two escaped but injured – Buried the rats and went to bed.

15/3/1994

Annabels birthday today and I am on food duties, group A went off to the blair toilet after another horrendous breakfast if sudza, I’m now getting f&*$ed off with sudza, I hate the stuff. We dug a silage pit after breakfast and then burnt any remaining dead rats from last night. baked a cake for Annabel and prepared some signs and balloons for her return. We found two poisonous scorpions in our tent under my pack, twatted them and burnt them too – these are the most dangerous things we’ve come across so far I reckon. The vertical railings on the hyde are proving very difficult to keep vertical at present with all sorts of problems in drilling through the wood. I still have a cold which I can’t seem to shake and it’s blocked my ears up, I drank a litre of rehydration fluid at lunch but still don’t feel much better for it – Afternoon was spent doing Annabel’s birthday balloons and banner etc, when she came back we had some beers, cake and then Ricky was a temporary stripogram. A good night followed up with some rat twatting, three dead and one injured, buried rats and went to bed.

16/3/1994

Woke at 0100hrs to the sound of an approaching storm, donned waterproofs, secured tents and dropped the kitchen tarpaulin and returned to bed. woke again at 0500hrs ready to make breakfast, myself and Trudy made sudza porridge which was horrid, we had to dig a new toilet and fill in the old one and was very wary of the pick axe given I was still wearing the bandage from the last time I used it and it was still giving me a lot of pain. I went to the hyde to help with the floor boards but they were giving me no end of trouble as they wouldn’t stay flat. the survey team returned in the PM at about 1800 hrs with some crazy stories of Keith Leggett (Survey PM) who’d thrown himself into some rapids for some reason. Had a few beers and tried to spend the evening rat twatting but there were none left. Myself, Shuggy, Lucy and Suzie went to the hyde at about 2100hrs and sat in the tree to see if we could see any elephants coming to drink from the pan but none came. Got to bed at about 0030hrs.

17/3/1994

Woke up at 0530 hrs, told people to go away, woken again at 0615hrs and told people to go away again, finally got up at 0700hrs and had ‘Pro Nutro’ for breakfast which made a nice change from Sudza – I went to the hyde in the morning to show the survey group the work that had been done in readiness for the changeover of groups. We had a chat with Keith Leggett and then spent the rest of the morning packing pretty much. we all went  back to Samelema gorge this afternoon for a swim and saw some baby crocs in the gorge pool with us. We all discussed going and having a reunion parachute jump when back in the UK as Eric is a jumpmaster. we all changed tents this evening from a large tent to a small dome with only myself, Shuggy and Tony in the dome, Tony’s feet stink.

Until next time

Cheers

Stu

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