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Sebastian's and Hardie's nose leash training has unpleasant consequences

Kokardine-Camp — 2000-06-12

Unfortunately, there are lots of broken pieces lying about in this enchanted forest. Some sharp fragments of dead tree trunks protrude from the ground as sharp as knives and some of our camels have cut their feet on them, thank God they are only minor cuts. Carefully and utterly alert I guide the caravan through the dangerous woods which only yesterday we found so charming.

Back on the way beside the tracks, Sebastian races ahead with a bone-breaking speed, and I have to muster all my force to slow him down to a decent marching pace of approx. 5.5 kilometres per hour. Now that I’ve guided the camels for four days I’m aware of the single-sided load on my body. I feel bent like a question mark and I wonder how long my sensitive back will go along with that. It becomes clearer to us than ever that Sebastian and Hardie, the two camels we bought from the camel man at Coolgardie, lack the sensitivity of the nose because they were trained exclusively with the nose leash. Most responsible camel men train their animals with the guide leash which is fastened to the halter, and not with the nose leash attached to the nose peg. The nose leash is to be used only as an emergency brake, and not in everyday contact with the camels. The result now is a nose that has become insensitive to pain, and that is exactly the reason why Sebastian is so hard to control Consequently, Sebastian tugs at his nose leash like a madman which causes an infection of the nostril where the nose peg sits. Jo suggests to replace the nose leash with a chin chain. “Perhaps he will react to that. If you pull at this chain it will tighten around the camel’s chin. I think that’s going to work.” she says broodingly. We decide to have Tom bring such a chain next time he’ll visit us on a day of rest so that we may test it on Sebastian and Hardie.

As the march continues, Hardy makes trouble from the beginning. I have not reported so far that he is always eager to walk left of the caravan and by doing so always pushes against Goola’s saddle. This makes Goola nervous so that he in turn pushes against Sebastian’s saddle, which is exactly the reason why Sebastian is so hard to rein. So it turns out that Hardie is the malefactor and responsible for the fact that the entire caravan marching in double quick time. Although Hardie is attached to Goola’s saddle by the nose leash, that doesn’t seem to keep him from wanting to walk beside him. In doing so, his nose stretches like a chewing gum and has been horribly inflamed for some days now. If the nose were not so insensitive to pain, the nose leash would force him to walk behind Goola instead of side by side with him as I described. Again we have to think of a way to solve the problem, and so there is hardly a day when we are not confronted with new hardships.

In the evening we set up camp on an a ploughed up path that is bordered by thick bushes to the left and right. I need not mention any more that we are dead tired, but still, this fatigue and exhaustion overcomes us in strange intervals. On some days I still feel powerful and fit in the evening, and only a day later I’m completely whacked. Tanja and Jo try to mind the camels in the thicket while I set up the radio and the tents. I have no sooner cleared the ground from all the wood and tufts of grass than I discover a whole army of ants in the process of starting an attack on my legs. In a fit of horror I beat it and try my luck some other place, but the result is the same. It turns out that the entire ploughed up way is downright infested with ants. It is already dark and a bitter wind is blowing through the bushes when I find a suitable site for our tents at last. Tanja and Jo have withdrawn to their tents a long while ago when I – in a trance-like state – read the co-ordinates from the satellite navigation system so that I can transfer them to the map. After that, as I do every night, I dictate the events of the day to a walkman so as to have them available for the diary update.

Day: 32






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