With the decision to convert the camp tents into chalets at Samango Camp, the Heroes and Unity long weekend was the ideal time to kick-start renovation building works with a solitary effort devoid of any distractions.
With the vehicle loaded to the gunnels with building materials and the usual refreshments, my two helpers and I set off from Lusaka. Deviations, pontoon delays and a herd of elephant blocking the road near camp made it a five hour drive.
A mental calculation defines what can be achieved over a LONG weekend with a hired truck to transport local building materials, stones, river sand, building sand and gravel.
The Bush telegraph has worked, because a horde of casuals arrived at camp. A day rate of pay is negotiated and 13 are hired – an unlikely and unmanageable number as it turns out. In addition upon arrival it was discovered that the water pump has seized.
Two gangs working at both ends of the site makes supervision a testing task. The moment one’s back is turned work slows or comes to a halt or instructions are misunderstood with plans going awry! The river trip with Noble and David was a marvelous interlude but there was a price to pay as work on site ground to a halt as soon as the boat left shore.
More lost time and lack of progress further interrupted with the theft of our camp manager’s torch the previous night. Accusations and inquisitions lead to the recovery of the torch which had miraculously found its way into one of the casuals’ houses.
Fortunately, the magnificence of the Zambezi, wonderful sunrises and sunsets linked to suitable liquid refreshments, go a long way to compensate for lack of achieving targeted progress. The sighting of the very shy Samango monkey, our resident pod of hippos and elephant visitations all help to balance things. Mother Nature is so soothing.
The moral and message of the bush building exercise is – set your targets, then divide by a factor of two and then divide again by two. Do not worry, we will get there in the end!
The solution is to split into three gangs, transporting one into the hills to collect rocks.
On site work is slow to start in the mornings, with a workers breakfast which lasts until 8.30; visits onto site of an elephant herd requiring all to down tools, and a one and a half hour lunch break. Progress is nothing going according to plan. A tour of the nearby lodges confirms that after stripping the pumps, they have seized. Recovery is possible by borrowing a pump from Claire, a friendly neighbor.
The truck does not appear until we are packing up to leave, the monkeys have knocked the loo roll into the toilet, not once but twice. (Remember to take a good supply of loo rolls!).
Frustration and exhaustion set in, but Sunday’s visit by Noble and David Findlay broke the tedium. I hitched a ride for a tour downstream. This does not take long at 80 kmph in Noble’s super swift boat. Noble did say he hit 110 kmph at one point on the way down from Gwabi. Supersonic, compared with the 10-20 kmph vehicle drive in on the atrocious roads.
By Andy Anderson