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A difficult day

Saddle Forest-Camp 2 — 2000-07-15

Raindrops wake us at 6:00 a.m. and our bodies ache like anything. I can’t and wont get up, while Tanja lies beside me quietly and can hardly move herself. We feel like we’ve been bulldozed and it takes some hefty grunting and groaning for us to heave ourselves up and begin our routine. Half an hour later I sit freezing by the camp fire and sip a warm milk tea that Tanja made for me, under a heavily clouded sky and a night that doesn’t appear to want to lift. I look up sceptically and hope that the drizzle will stop soon as thick arms of fog glide through the spooky woods around me. I could sit here forever and watch the day awakening but work is calling and Tanja is already busy washing our dishes in a small, fold-up dish from Ortlieb. I observe her admiringly for a moment, this wonderfully beautiful woman that shares such a hard and exciting life with me. I notice that I am drifting away again and gather all my energies to spring up and walk over to our soaking wet tent, take it down and stow it away. Tanja and I don’t waste many words while we work and at 10:00 a.m. we are ready to go again. ‘Camels, walk up!’ I give the commando and we head north once more.

A yellow, square sign marks the next cattle grid just an hour later and upon reaching the spot we are reserved to find no gate here either. We set the camels down, like yesterday, and bind their forefeet together, then I choose three of the posts and dig them up. These we then lay down flat on the ground, pile dead branches and wood on top of the taught wire to hold it down, and shovel dirt over the whole section of fence. Tanja and I release the camels and lead them slowly across the barrier. An hour later we are on the road again. ‘Look, there are some Emus up ahead!’ Tanja cries as we see a group of these strange birds for the first time. They remain frozen in the middle of the track to watch our procession with interest, only to head for the cover of thick bush as we come too near. Despite the rain it is a pleasant day, our path is crossed by many kangaroos and they too are often rooted to the ground at the sight of us. It looks like they aren’t scared of our camels at all as we often pass by very close to them. At 3:30 p.m. the sun is shining and making the lovely, but eerie, woods steam as we arrive at our next camping spot. Tanja tends to the camels as I quickly erect the tent and it’s not until some time later that I am aware of the itches on my forehead, neck and even my torso. Oh no! What we really needed right now… Sandflies! ‘Are they biting you too?’ I call to Tanja, who is busy telling Hardie off for trying to wander away yet again. ‘Yes, terribly!’ she answers, running after Hardie. The tent is finally standing as I discover a bunch of ants that have taken an interest in our quarters. Swearing, I pick the tent up and place it elsewhere, only to find that the little buggers are everywhere! I watch them closely and notice many of them disappearing into tiny holes in the ground, then I take the hammer and go to work on the area immediately around the tent, hoping to keep the ants busy for the night at least. Rufus is lying on his blanket and observing my fight against the army of ants. He appears very amused by his master’s strange dance! By this time the damn sandflies have bitten me all over so that I scratch my forehead, behind the ears, the neck and on my breast like crazy. The air is moist and the drizzle begins again as I shuffle over to the saddles which stand in a line upon the wet ground. I retrieve the fold-up chairs from the tent bag and set them up alongside the chosen fire place, dig a shallow hole with the shovel and light the fire with some dry leaves I found under the otherwise wet fire wood. Tanja arrives again with the camels and we have to laugh as Jafar suddenly makes a bee line for Rufus’ water bowl. The dog can only cower behind a tree as the huge camel empties his bowl with one gulp, slurping so loudly that the others press themselves into the camp too in search of water. Eventually we have to step in and take them all by their lines as they stomp dangerously close to our equipment, Tanja ties them to various trees and then falls into her chair. She takes her shoes off in the wet air and stretches some nasty looking blisters toward the fire. After tending to her feet and having a short rest, Tanja throws together a quick dinner and it’s not much later than 8:00 p.m. before we crawl out of this inhospitable nature and into our tent, thankful that the ants haven’t yet managed to dig their way out of their underground home.

Day: 65






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