Lions, Elephants and Pirates
January 8, 2016
January 8, 2016




By Mike Wright of Shackleton Tent

We have started our third term, and the morning cold is real here in the valley. It is the type of cold, which numbs your face and inhibits your fingers from moving. I wake up at 5:25, get out of my sleeping bag, and walk to the bathroom only to stare in the mirror. At this time my thoughts are only stars, which I cannot fathom into constellations. Routine takes over and I brush my teeth, stick my head back into the tent and wake the other two up, normally with minutes to go until we are expected to be at PT. We can’t be expected to run though? How can we do exercise like this, we will surely damage ourselves. But we run, somehow… We run because in the back our minds, we knew we would have to, from the moment we emerged from our tents. I was once told once that the more you can predict, the more you can control.

Over the last few days, Intake 2 took part in their second technical week, which consisted of plumbing, electrics and natural practical lectures. This was successful, due to the fact that, by the end of the week, we could fix minor plumbing problems around Quest, Brad was inspired to fit several lights in our bathroom and I somehow installed a new fluorescent light in our tent… Our knowledge of bird and tree life has grown again, after spending another week driving in Mr. Macdonald’s Land Rover, with his words floating back to be plucked out by those of us who sought the information. Again, we have met two new mentors who took on the challenge of imparting knowledge of their trade onto us. Two men we would otherwise not have met, and we are all glad we did. Hopefully, they too got something out of teaching us.

A rather unexpected event which occurred this week, was when we faced up against the Falcon 2nd XI for a spot of hockey. A rather proud moment for us, seeing as how we won this game. What you need to take into account though, is that we were quite naturally a bunch of delinquents who stepped onto the field having practiced together twice, some of whom hadn’t played for 5 years, and others who had quite simply never played at all. With only high spirits to lose, we strolled onto the pitch without warming up only to hear our opposition mutter, “Well, at least if we start to lose, they don’t have shinpads”. Kind words of support, Falcon players. So a fair game sprung up on the main field, with some spicy action being produced at the head of many a stick, much to Falcon’s surprise, and even more-so to ours. An occasional mistake would come about whenever one of the ‘veterans’ had the ball, due to the two new spectators who had taken their seats among our very own staff members. So with a sneaky, yet extremely vicious, heart palpitation and a wipe of the brow, we carried on. Our tactics of naught, and our team chemistry of zero, developed as went, which alarmed our opponents. Alarmed them so much that the umpire, who happened to be a first team player, unsuccessfully tried to surreptitiously take off his bib so that he could play. Of course, we wouldn’t stand for this. So…. after I headed him in the chest, Basil hit him with his stick and Ali Bruce slapped him on the forehead with his palm, Mr. T ripped off his shirt and chased the poor guy off the field. We then performed a dance routine, which had been choreographed by Doug, Phil Cox stepped onto the field to sing Zimbabwe’s national anthem and Luke took his headband off. Then something ridiculous happened… We started to string some coherent passes together, and swiftly slipped 3 goals past them. What a time to be alive.

But now, as I sit in my bed with my muscles aching and a packet of raw cashews at my disposal, I realize that our days with Intake 1 are limited due to our independent travels, and we are going to have to say our goodbyes to  people to whom we have grown very close. We will then have to prepare to say goodbye to those in Intake 2 as well.

The Quest campsite, with its’ ubiquitous bicycles, thorns and the rocky, harsh ground which has all but destroyed my Crocs, will have us for a while longer, and then Quest will be over. Hopefully we will still be a part of this place once our course has concluded, because I am as much a part of Quest as Quest is a part of me. This bed in the middle of our tent, on which I lie right now, feels like my own. And the sounds of the Arrow-mark Babblers, the francolin and the mixture of music, which circulate through our tents, now sounds like home.

They say that the cost of a fabric is determined by its strength. We have become both stronger and unique, which will hopefully have a value as we step away in a few weeks.

It will be hard to leave.