Monday, April 25, 2011

Week ending 24 April 2011

Tuesday last week the company had a very important meeting. Directors flew into the valley on Tuesday and were taken straight to the guest house for refreshments. Sue and I, with the able asssistance of Chef Wheatcliffe and his assistant, Caro,  made finger lunch for eight men, two of whom were vegetarians. As soon as the men had eaten and departed for the  boardroom in the mine office building, Sue and I began to plan and prepare for the evening's dinner. This time for sixteen people.  Caro and Wheatcliffe carried on with the cutting and cooking and by 4pm, we handed over to them. 

Sue and I walked over to her house where we sat on the
veranda and watched the birds enjoying her bird bath. We were recharging our batteries for  dinner which also went off successfully.

Greater Blue-eared Starling getting ready, steady...

On Wednesday morning, we drove down to the airstrip where the visitors and our financial manager, Johan waited to board the plane for Nairobi.
Sue photographs our company MD (in white trousers) and one of the directors who flew into site for the annual meeting

The financial manager, Johan, here on single status (wife and little girl back home in Pretoria, South Africa) went out on leave this week. He is very shy but Sue and I decided to make a fanfare of his departure: we took photos of him ready to board the small plane and also hugged him while wishing him a safe flight to Nairobi
Directors chatting while waiting to board the plane. I just love the mountains surrounding our valley and never miss an opportunity to photograph them in the background!
Don't all children just love an aeroplane? This little group was standing watching all the activity on the normally deserted company airstrip
Sue, funny lady and dear friend since I arrived on camp, photographing me photographing ... She and I have identical cameras: Canon Powershot but hers is about four years old. She and her hubby are in Nairobi this weekend with their son who's flown in from South Africa for Easter. He has brought her an upgraded Canon. I can't wait to see it!
Unbeknown to me, Sue had taken this photo and sent it to me the next day with the caption: professional paparazzi on the move!
And another!

The plane starts to move down the runway

It taxied for about 500m and...

... took off. Grant - just visible through the dust - was at the end of the strip checking that no stray goats, cattle or people were wandering around

After the excitement of seeing a plane take off from the valley, Sue and I drove back into the mine property, stopped the vehicle above the river running past the mine and walked along the banks. We were almost too late to view birds, but we sat on the rocks and chatted while resting our feet from the hard work of the day before.

Isn't this tranquil?

A while later we climbed back up the riverbank to the road and crossed it to the dam rising above on the other side. We hoped we might see a few herons or comorants. No birds,  but on a beach further along the dam, we saw two crocodiles sunning themselves. Of course, I took photos...

The Nile crocodile / Crocodylus niloticus 

The Nile Crocodile can grow up to five meters long. They have long snouts that can grab fish and turtles. They are dark olive in color, and young ones have bands around their body. But as they get older, the bands fade. They are the most intelligent reptiles on the earth. Nile Crocodiles live in freshwater swamps, rivers, lakes, and other watery places. They dig dens to hide in from hot weather or danger. They are only found in Africa and Madagascar.

The common name here is also Kenya crocodile or Madagascar crocodile.

On Thursday I woke up feeling very groggy with flu-like symptoms. A driver took me down to the clinic where Jo-Anne, a lovely young qualified sister checked my blood pressure (normal) and listened to my chest (clear). Then she drew blood from me did a malaria test. I photographed this procedure; very interesting and professionally executed.

Jo-Anne checking the malarial parasites in my blood sample under the microscope

 The verdict: positive. She gave me anti-malarial medication, I took them and rested for the next three days.
The weekend itself was rather quiet due to the fact that I was a little, quite, very ill.

On Sunday afternoon Grant and I watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer which was televised and watched by millions in 1981. I remember a good friend, Christine and I watching it on her television on the day, which was a Wednesday. There were political sanctions against South Africa in those days, and we were unable to hear the beautifully rendered Trumpet Triumphal March, the hymns sung by the congregation and the songs by the choirs. The sound would go off and a notice appeared on the screen saying: "Due to sanctions against the country, South African viewers are unable to hear the music." I sure am glad those days of apartheid are over in my country. The Royal wedding certainly had a fairytale quality about it. Makes it all that much sadder that the marriage went to pieces and Diana, Princess of Wales ultimately and tragically died.
As this post is aired, we're on our way to El Doret to fetch a technician whom Grant is flying in to do work on two large machines. We've known Bertus for over ten years, since he worked for Grant in Guinea, West Africa. At the beginning of last year, Bertus also did a six-week stint of work for Grant in Khartoum.  Then we all three lived together in the two-bedroomed flat, which worked quite well. This weekend, I had to arrange with Caro to prepare a bedroom in the guest house for Bertus and to cook lunch and dinner for today. 
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with your loved ones.


  1. Life at the camp is very busy I see. I do hope you recover soon from malaria. I hope too that when you get a needle shot of any kind that they use a clean needle. I pray that God keeps you and makes you strong. Love and hugs. As for me, am still at mom's city. She is still in hospital and in a lot of pain in her right leg. I don't know when they'll let her out but I think this coming week some time. xx

  2. Very interesting post. Hope the medicine works.

  3. Your life with Grant various places in Africa is fascinating, Jo. That Greater Blue-eared Starling is stunning with its jewel-like coloring. I love the airplane shots--those small planes can land almost anywhere, as long as there's a long enough and flat enough runway!

    I am so sorry to hear that you have malaria. That is awful! I hope the medication takes effect quickly and you recover well! Take it easy, dear friend, and rest a lot.

  4. Certainly hope you're feeling better now. So much excitement and activity. Sure seems unusual to hear about crocodile sightings while bird watching.

  5. Oh No!!!!! You got malaria.

    On Sunday, we had a family visiting from Congo. They are refugees and I told them my African students and my connection with Kenya.

    They don't speak much English. Luckily we had an 80 something ex missionary who speaks french.

  6. You crowd a lot of excitement into your days in the isolated valley. The airstrip and plane reminds me of Papua/ New Guinea and outback Australia. Have you had Malaria before? It is a nasty, nasty illness. I took anti malaria tablets every day for 7 years while I lived in P/NG and I was lucky never to get it.

  7. What a busy and varied week you had, Jo! Not good news re the malaria! So glad you headed straight for the clinic to be properly checked out and were given the correct meds immediately. My Dad had it in 1955 and still suffers from the effects through occasional debilitating night fevers. At the time, his was not diagnosed early enough and he ended up in a coma and nearly died, so it's really not something to be toyed with!

    It's great that you and Sue get on so well together and lovely to see you both in today's set of super pictures. You have an amazing figure, Jo! I wish I had your self discipline!

  8. How exciting to watch the plane take off, observe Nile Crocodiles and then find out you had malaria! I hope you're feeling better. :)

  9. I catched up on your blog, how interesting what you have lived the past days. How can you catch Malaria? if we go to an African country we have to be vaccinated against it that's law !
    Some Belgians who lived in the Congo when it was still a Belgian colony, got it and it's terrible because it stays forever and sometimes comes back from time to time, fortunately not very often.

  10. Another wonderful post, Jo. I too liked the starlings in Africa, and was pleased to see them everywhere.

    I am sorry you've been ill, awful for you. I know malaria is not an illness to mess with. We made sure to have all our shots before heading overseas, and thankfully had little trouble. I came to enjoy the tiny bats that flew around the cabins at night gobbling down mosquitoes.

    Feel better soon...:)


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