This wonderful group of volunteers was from all over the world, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain and France to mention a few, worked hard and almost finished an alternative water point for elephants near the A. Gariseb Primary School. Elephants have been frequent visitors at the school, so water point was much needed. Among others, in this group we had Elsie, our oldest volunteer to date, who at 87 years of age was doing better than most of us! On Patrol week the volunteers saw many herds of elephants, like Mama Afrika’s herd (who also came to greet the volunteers on Base Camp!). They were also privileged to see lions on a zebra kill.
Monday 19th of September
As Olivia and I have been the only experienced volunteers yet we obviously had to be on duty for the evening. So we were asked to cook the spaghetti Bolognese on the evening after sitting in a dusty car for about 1½ hours and leaving back our just-met-friend Tobi from Germany who we will definitely miss the following weeks. Base camp seems to be the luxurious home again as we were used to it after spending the whole weekend in a car heading to Etosha.
The people of the new group are nice of course they are, I wouldn’t expect anything else. The Bolognese was fine, the first shower since 2 days was awesome and Chris’ briefing was interesting of course with referring to the “so called” popular Belgian word “shwaffel”. Because Liv’ and me haven’t slept well the last days we went to bed “early” at 10 o’clock after I washed the dishes with Giles, a cool guy from New Zealand who I will share duty with tomorrow .
Hendrik and Liv
Tuesday 20th September
Woke up for duty at 6 o’clock and forgot again that we don’t have to make fire – Kaylee was shouting (or loudly whispering if you would ask her) to me again in the middle of the night and we were supposed to cook the porridge and prepare everything else for breakfast.
Breakfast was …of a hurry for the breakfast-duty-people because we had to eat a little bit later when everybody else already had their porridge and weetbix. So there wasn’t much time left for us packing our stuff and rolling up our comfortable bedrolls which was why we started to help Chris and Adolf preparing the car for the building week little bit later compared to everyone else.
I was impressed that we had some space left in the upper part of the Bushmen’s car even there had been 12 people and a tent for 2 persons each. After 45 minutes of driving we eventually arrived at the place where we will start building the next wall.
Tuesday 20th September
At last my watch has ended and Hendrik and I are enjoying being waited upon by Poppy and Liv. We are greeted on our way to the riverbed by three elephants. Our first sighting! Two younglings and another one.
After the hottest day in the history of EHRA (Tuesday) on which we dug out our water point the work is easier and the weather is breezier. By day’s end we have completed the bottom and the beginning of one side of the wall. We are happy with our progress and enjoying ourselves 🙂
Today we woke up at 6. It was earlier than normal but not too bad. Poppy and I were on duty together and got everyone’s breakfast ready. I still couldn’t remember everyone’s names but I’m getting there. We started building early to avoid the exhausting heat. It went really well. We saw elephants on the way to the build site. The wall went up really fast. We had our lunch back at camp and played some monopoly go cards. The break went super fast and before long we had to get back to work. The rest of the building went fast and I was surprised by how much we got done. The day went fast and before I knew it we were back at camp cooking dinner and had an early night.
The early bird catches the worm. This early bird also sings show tunes while delivering cups of caffeine to numerous tent occupants. Reactions were mixed.
Once tummies were full we hit the road and ran smack-bang into our first elephants! This was the first time I have ever seen elephants in real life. Such an amazing experience I can’t wait to see more!
When we started to build early it is cool and we get a lot of work done. This level of accomplishment steadily declines as we get hotter and tired but we still progress! Once young Matheus arrives we really get the ball rolling. He may not be able to drive, but boy, can he build a wall!
The rest of the day goes super quickly. Liv, Kaylee and I made a wicked Lamb Tagine for dinner. A few people play games of monopoly cards, but seem to lose heart when I win on my first try. At night I dream of my budding career as a real estate mogul….
Woke up at 06:00am for the water point project for the elephant. We saw 2 elephants on our way before working and we visited the school near the water point. The children were very happy to see us and wanted to touch us because we have not the same skin. They were so cute and very proud to show us their school books!
Today was a really busy day. We woke up in the dark at 06 o’clock. Than we prepared a nice breakfast with toast and cheese and avocado. After the breakfast we went to work. It was a successful day, because we built very much of the wall. I went with the others several times for rockrun, because the dust from the cement was very strong. In the lunchtime we went to the school, that was very exciting for us and for the children. Thank you, Aippi for organizing this 🙂
Woke up again at 6:00 am! Making fire, breakfast, coffee. I was on duty with Mireia, it went really easy. I enjoyed to take care of the people in the morning. Everything went fast. Making fire was easier than I thought.!
It was the last day of building. And we’ve got a present: Elephants walked by the building place! I had bad luck, I was getting stones for the wall. We got a signal in the radio that there where elephants on the building place! When we went back everyone of the group was high on the rocks looking for the elephants, they already went into the bush! But I could see just one getting out of the bush. Then we finished our wall! Wow, great feeling, we did it!
As we had finished we danced on the wall for a funny movie for EHRA! That was fun. After building we cleaned and broke up the camp place. A hard job in the heat! Breaking up all the tents, kitchen stuff……then we drove home, to the base camp, looking forward to having a shower!!
We made springbok! I learned a lot while cooking, thanks Kaylee!
After dinner we got a present again: ELEPHANTS WALKED BY THE CAMP!!!! That was the perfect ending of my duty day! Sleep well everyone!!!
Friday 23rd September 2016
This night I had slept quite badly. I was nervous. It was my first duty day. The first hour was not so great. Coffee, tea, with sugar, with milk? Where is everyone? But then the day was full of gifts. We finished the water point for the elephants ! And we made a real warrior dance to celebrate. Elephants came to celebrate too. We returned to base camp. Home sweet home. We could take a short but marvelous shower. Happiness! I was quite worried about the dinner. I felt well because I was on duty with Ellen, but was afraid my poor English wasn’t enough to understand how to cook the biggest piece of meat I have ever seen (springbok). But everybody helped happily. Aippi helped me to read the instructions again and again and Kaylee showed me how to prepare strange vegetables called gem squash. All was ok and finally the meal was delicious. We are a great team.
The last gift was elephants coming to say hello when we were having dinner. To hear them walking on the sand was amazing.
Really all is amazing. People, views, elephants, showers, no showers…I am almost starting to love sand. I am enjoying this a lot. And this is only the first week!!!
Sun 25 September 2016
Today was our sleeping shortened by the “howling of baboons”. Breakfast of fried ham, eggs and toast by Jack. It was delicious! An unbelievable past week, picked rocks – mixed cement, much hot sun and cool nights. One unscheduled break when we scrambled up rocks to escape and wait the passage of mom and junior elephant to pass our construction site. Another highlight was our visit to the children’s school where one observant student excitedly brought her classmates to feel and trace the aged enlarged blue veins in my lower arms. A lesson in anatomy!!!
If not for the Namib sun that sucked and spat out my marrow, how could I have rejoiced being tucked in by the stars and rocked to sleep by her gentle breeze.
Jane Leach 9/24/16
First day on patrol!!! 10 minutes down the road – elephants. I really enjoyed watching the elephants very relaxing!
Monday 26 September 2016
Saturday me and Liz were on duty and we made 4 different meals. Macaroni cheese, braai, vegetable patties and beef sausages. A lot of food but we ate it all and finished the leftovers.
Today, we saw the 3 main herds: Mama Afrika. G6, Ugab Small. We all took a lot of photos and I filled up the rest of my 4 gb memory card. On occasions they came very close and we could see every detail of their bodies. After lunch and a siesta we were back on their trails and caught up with them again. We also were joined by a film crew from the UK making a documentary about the elephants. They’re camping with us and earlier on had interviewed a woman who’d had her livestock feed raided by hungry elephants. She was using chilli to deter them.
Really we hope we see some new animals tomorrow otherwise I’ll have to take fewer pictures to conserve memory card space. I’d love to see a massive bull elephant and have it come very close to the car. We’ll see. In the meantime we’re having Thai curry tonight.
Tuesday 27th September 2016
Yesterday was an amazing day because we saw many elephants in a very short time. Mathilda and John are very beautiful, I love them. Today, it is cloudy and a little cold. We are following the camera crew. They went to film elephants to make a documentary. We saw 3 men, digging a hole to find more water. They are brave because the hole is already deep.
In conclusion our guides – Matthias and Hendrick are very kind and know a lot of things about elephants of course! The Canadian girls are very funny too. They are my drug dealers 🙂 (Margareth was sick and the Canadian ladies provided her with some medication) .
Today, I was on duty with Jack. We were glad to make spaghetti carbonara for dinner, this was very delicious. The next morning we saw some elephants, but the day was a little bit boring because the whole afternoon we sat in the car and saw no animals. Only two vultures were in the sky. Unfortunately I had not had a chance to see them, because that was when we prepared the dinner.