Wetter than Wet
By Guy Quittenton
This week was all about challenging our perceptions and introducing us to new environment. Half of us would be going to a nearby game farm, whilst the other half were going mining.
Overall it would be fair to say that our group drew the short straw! Having heightened morale in the Overlander with some top quality re-mixed tunes (the titles of which I have censored-ed), we arrived at the farm in good spirits…… in the pouring rain! Rain, if you haven’t already gathered, will be a recurring theme.
Nonetheless we pushed on, set up camp next to a serene dam and Ben Du Toit was quickly in his element, casting his rod and pulling out barble. Mr H (aka The Rig), had to hide his envy due to his earlier blasé statements claiming he could teach us all to catch. He didn’t catch anything!
On the Monday we got a taste of what it is like maintaining a farm as we learnt to take down fences and lay pipelines. I am sure most were aghast to see a Pommie (myself) and a Boer (Albert) hand in hand working on the pipeline. That night with Chum, our super-chef, dishing up another stellar plate of food we went to bed warm, cosy and comfortable.
Unfortunately a weather front was on its way. Mr Randle assured us that his weather report had forecast 1mm of rain overnight. That fact that he quickly jumped into his car and wheel spun out of there, suggests he really knew what was coming! What happened next reminds me of the scene in Forest Gump where he describes light rain, heavy rain, sideways rain and even rain coming from underneath. At around 4am almost all of the guys could be fund huddling under the small thatched Lapa, avoiding the rain. In addition, when Mr H appeared for PT we all begged him to do a core session inside rather than the planned run…. THAT was how wet it was! After PT we trudged in further rain up to the main farm house. On arrival we were told that a nearby, upstream dam had burst and was flooding downstream. We ran back to our camp, and what we saw was comical, but at the time very worrying. The dam had burst its banks and the grass we had camped on was submerged. Panic ensued of course! In we rushed knee deep and wet to the bone, desperately trying to save the most valuable things first. Somehow that meant most of the food was rescued urgently….. typical boys! The owners of the farm sent reinforcements as we hauled everything from the Lapa, fridge and all. 1mm he said….
After the ordeal was over, we were happy with the prospect of spending the night in the butchery locker. However, the smell penetrated the nostrils, with Nick ‘Yoda’ Snell looking the most pained, as usual! Thankfully we were saved by the sweetest and kindest farm owners, Mr and Mrs Nicolle, who gave us tea toast and TV and the boys quickly began to regain some colour. Their generosity was even greater when they told us we could sleep in their house. I managed to bag the only double bed, which felt heavenly! What made their hospitality so special was that their farm had been reduced from 45, 000 hectares to 5,000 due to the land redistribution programme.
After writing a Thank You note, we left the farm and met up with the other group. Turns out that they did little mining with most of the levels having been flooded. We carried on back to Quest and they continued on the farm.
I was told that this week would place us in a new environment. Being English, being wetter than wet was not really a change, but the challenges that faced us during the deluge was an experience nonetheless!