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Taking over the Leadership of the Caravan

Six Amery-Camp — 2000-06-07

Today is the first day Jo lets me take over the leadership of the caravan. Even though it is more strenuous to guide than to simply walk ahead, it gives me a feeling of joy deep down inside. It is nearly comparable with finally sitting behind the wheel of a car and steering it after having been in the passenger seat. As usual, Sebastian leads the group with a fast pace. I, too, have great difficulty slowing him down from his euphoric speed. Jafar is limping again, which worries me a great deal. During our lunch break we give him his medicine again. All I can do is hope that his injury is not worse than it seems. Sebastian’s knee cracks open a bit every now and again, but the healing is making progress. It doesn’t seem to bother him, because his speed is unbroken. We have a feeling as if we were jogging through Australia.

After some kilometres, my knee joint starts to ache. Many years ago I used to play American football in the first national league, but before the end of the first year I had a serious knee injury. Since then I have had three operations, and now I walk around with an artificial crucial ligament and a couple of screws in my left knee. All I can do, as usual, is hope that it will last. There are times when I feel pretty shattered because of my old sport injury, but then again, there’ll always be a way to go on.

Around 1 p.m. we stop for lunch as usual. As soon as I have made the camels sit down, we are approached by three women. They introduce themselves as coming from the daily paper of the town ahead of us, Dowerin. The friendly ladies question us about the progress of our journey so far. Unfortunately, their camera doesn’t work, so Jo offers them access to our web page. A short time later they say goodbye to us. Now it’s time to have our well-deserved lunch. Each of us is having a ready-to-serve soup, some pieces of the bread we still have from Goomalling, and an apple. As a special treat we are allowed to reach into the cookie jar. Tanja who is responsible for the food logistics makes sure I don’t simply raid the tin. „Denis, that’s enough now! You’re eating tomorrow’s ration again.“ she warns me, whereupon I feel like caught red-handed and withdraw my hand in a flash.

As we proceed to march I’m given to my thoughts. The pain in my excessively strained knee joints has turned dull somehow and no longer stings as it did in the morning. I try to ignore it as much as possible hoping that my body will get accustomed to the rhythm of walking in the next few weeks. Time passes quickly, and before I know it we reach our camp site near Amery having covered a distance of 22 kilometres today.

After minding the camels and erecting our tents, I set up our Flying Doctor Radio for the first time. We want to get in contact with Tom. In the future, this radio is to be our connection to the outside world. We’ll need the transceiver for emergencies. It is also important when we are in need of supplied. For the next few months, Jo and Tom are going to be our supply team. For this purpose they must know where to find us so they can deliver the required food supplies to us. For an expedition that is to last three years, naturally we cannot load everything we need on the camelbacks. Another possibility would be to stop at a village in the outback every two to three months where we could stock up on food supplies, however, everything you need for living is extremely expensive there, so far away from the big cities. That is why we have decided on doing it this way. Later, when the distance to Jo and Tom is too great, they are going to send us the bags with fresh supplies to a station (farm) where we’ll go to collect them.

The first radio communication goes like clockwork. We agree that he’ll come tomorrow night to collect Jo who is longing for her husband, a hot shower, her bed and her electric blanket.

Day: 27






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