Quickstepping into (Not a) Coup! by Rhys Bartlett

Senga Bay, Malawi – by Ross Lundt
November 17, 2017
Changing of the Guard by Shannon Mc Crae
November 29, 2017

Quickstepping into (Not a) Coup! by Rhys Bartlett


After some much needed rest and recovery from Malawi, we got back into the swing of things with our projects. What seemed like something that had to be done weeks away suddenly came screaming into view. For some projects it seemed like some divine intervention would be needed in order for it to be completed on time. Missing parts, lack of motivation and some misunderstanding due to things being lost in translation have made this week quite entertaining as a spectator. Each of our projects has its own challenges and how Will and I have dealt with them have paid off as we are mainly spectators of the chaos and rarely part of it. This isn’t to say that we don’t feel the pressure. We all do.

The end is nigh and  with projects dominating a lot of our day it’s hard to squeeze in time for writing  our PDP’s that need to be completed as deadlines are fast approaching in the coming week. After working all day or for as long as your motivation persists, drawing energy to be introspective is proving to be a challenge for some. Ross has even cut down his daily nap time to accommodate such stresses. 

Luckily a break from the chaos saw a select few of us journey to the bustling metropolis that is Bulawayo. We started our day with once again volunteering at Southern Equestrian Centre helping the children from King George VI. Despite their problems they always have the biggest smiles. I find the experience incredibly emotionally heavy as you are placed in a position where you have to care for a child with a disability, you’re immediate reaction is to treat them like porcelain, this notion then is immediately shattered when you place them on a horse. Their smile never fades. You can see how much they enjoy the independence, moving without having to be overly manhandled. The program at Southern Equestrian does a great deal to make a difference in the lives of those children and I feel grateful to play a part in it even if it’s a minor role as every bit of help is needed.

Our bartering skills were once again needed when the charitable aspect of our journey arrived. We went to a ‘bend-over’, a market for second hand clothes. Our purpose there was to shop for clothes for our Christmas presents for orphaned children. We managed to select some items of clothes but only after Somerset was able to transform himself into a colour blind, cross dressing tramp.   

The grand finale of our journey contained the all-important social acumen. Using our prior knowledge gained form dancing we were to sweep the elderly off their feet with our charm and dance moves. Even in our most formal attire we still felt underdressed for the occasion. As soon as we got our bearing of the place we were whisked away and given jobs pouring champagne. We were very generous with our pouring and it was well received. After helping we to some champagne and the professional entertainment had left the floor. It was our time to entertain. The champagne had definitely started to kick in as I felt a bony hand grab my wrist and with surprising force pulled me all the way to the dance floor.  One by one we were all picked off and swept to the dance floor. Dance moves of the 20th century melded with the 21st as the hours of the late afternoon passed by. We were all very sad to leave the party. I felt that our company was appreciated we all contributed something from conversation to dancing. 

Our journey back to Quest had the added surprise of a military acquired road block as a coup was currently underway. Will was noticeably jittery, much to our amusement, when two armed personnel asked him for documents. We made it back to Quest just in time for storm to hit. I spent the night watching fantastic displays of violent arcs in the rain.

Saturday morning consisted of etiquette.  A change from the usual chores that we do around Quiet waters. We learned the importance of social intelligence in the workplace as well as smaller topics, such as how to greet a foreign minister of finance and which order the flags of your countries should be flown on the car that parades him/her around. It was an amusing presentation to say the least as stresses on specificity made it humorous not that etiquette contains much humour, far from it.  


Pat’s dream finally came true as Sunday had the added surprise of paintball. Mandatory fun is the best kind of fun. I loathe paintball passionately but I was made a convert. The added adrenaline from only playing in shorts and shoes makes the game. I’ve never played a game of paintball where the skin breaks every time you’re hit. The grand finale consisted of Napoleon Bonaparte or last man standing, a game I personally enjoyed. The object is to prolong the suffering of your opponents who stand shoulder to shoulder by hitting them in the arms or legs (which they can’t use once hit) or be merciful and shoot them as close to the heart as your aim allows. Tensions where high throughout and so was the humour. All atrocities were justly carried out by firing squad.  Poor Quinten paid dearly for his crime of shooting an unarmed man. We all left battered and bruised, some more than others, but happy none the less.