Climbing Kopjies and Descending Shafts

Bushtick Buffalo
February 3, 2016
Something’s Cooking!
February 15, 2016

Climbing Kopjies and Descending Shafts

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Brandan Durkan, Gustav de Brauwer and Joel Griffen

After a long week of welding and First Aid the group faced the challenge of a week of farming and mining. In the same groups as the week before we headed off in the Overlander to Gwanda and West Nicholson to begin the experience of a lifetime, probably never to be repeated!

Working in a gold mine is something that very few people will experience in their lifetime.  Tough, sweaty, dark, confined and damp, just going down the ladder we must have lost about 10kgs! The physical work in the mine is something the group have never experienced, and something we will never forget.  From lashing to pushing coco pans, …. you would never need to go to the gym again.  Memories were made underground and above ground.  One of the funniest incidents happened to Angus Bidwell and the General Underground Manager.  Angus lost his insulin ‘pin’ (he is diabetic) and had to be taken out of the mine via the skip.  Angus, one of the tallest guys on the course, got into the skip, which is only big enough for a midget, followed by the Manager, sitting on top of Angus.  Once out the mine, Angus had to be ‘washed down’ (procedural) which he reports became uncomfortably intimate for both of them… he still claims he was ‘molested’!  To end the day off we would sit down in the mine owner’s very comfortable house and watch a movie….. However Ross and Justin decided to ‘summon demons’.  They had tied fishing wire to a bottle and a shoe so that they appeared to mysteriously move.  This caught the attention of Andrew and Henry, who are both susceptible to the ‘paranormal’ and were suitably taken in which then caught the attention of Mr Mpofu, our facilitator.  He too was then convinced the house was haunted and only realised all was a hoax after a restless night!

The farming experience was far more relaxed, but with just as many memories made and lessons learnt.  Some of the jobs we did were bush clearance along the farm roads, repairing warthog holes in the fence, planting tomatoes and putting up new fencing.  The work environment was a lot more pleasant than in the mine.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we were also given time off to go exploring the many kopjes, fishing, swimming, playing water rugby and going on game drives.  The only time the serenity of our idyllic camp site was interrupted was when the camp was hit by a massive gale force wind and horizontal, hard rain.  The tents that were not pegged down blew away in no time and soon the others followed them, particularly those with poor aerodynamics.  Most of us dragged our soaking tents and gear behind the main boma for protection, which was minimal.  The storm lasted about 20 minutes and left some of us with soaking wet bedding and a wary eye on any gathering rain clouds.  Henry even loaded his tent with bar stools before we left for a hike just in case another storm came our way.

The fishing was also highly frustrating.  The dam was clearly full of barble and other species yet despite our best efforts to catch fish with any means we had, we only managed to catch 2 with our rods.  Fortunately the one group was given the opportunity by the farmer to fish with a drag net which was highly successful.  The other group also witnessed the farmer shoot a baboon which they then collected and used as barble bait.

Overall both the farm and the mine were full of unique experiences.  We gained a wealth of knowledge and created many memories we will look back on in the future.

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