The adventure continues.
After a few days, the remainder of the production crew arrived, the team from Smash TV, the eclipse video experts from Magnetic Images and Diane from the Sun Earth Connection at NASA. It was getting closer to eclipse time and the lodgings around Livingstone were getting crowded. I was pleased that Noel had managed to score great accommodations for us at Kubu cabins. The staff at Kubu was full of positive energy, we laughed with them every night.
Lowell, Noel and I continued to produce our dispatches every day, however the local oscillator on our Inmarsat satellite phone died and left us without a way to send our story home to the Exploratorium. This was the second remote webcast on which we had trouble with the Inmarsat connection, I think maybe their technology is not rugged enough for field use. There was an Internet cafe in Livingstone which allowed us to send off dispatches just as we left to go deep into the bush at Sausage Tree camp, and as soon as we returned, thank goodness for Internet cafes!
Diane from NASA joined us at Kubu cabins. Here, Noel of the web dispatch team is sharing our latest creation with her. The titanium PowerBook worked great. The table and chairs we are working on are all skin-covered drums.
In the morning fog covered the Zambezi River. We followed nature trails along the river and inland from Kubu cabins. Slowly the sun warmed the air and the fog vanished. It was exciting to be walking through the African woods. Eerie termite mounds rose out of the ground like fingers pointing to the sky. Strange birds sang unfamiliar songs. Spider webs pushed into our faces. Christian from Smash TV played the role of McGyver and fixed everything, he found six dead mountain bikes at Kubu cabins and soon had three working bikes. This was a great boon. Christian and I went out for rides every day while Noel went for his run, it was good to get in some exercise.
After a morning walk we returned to the cabins to work on our next dispatches. At the cabins, colorful Bee Eaters distracted us from our work. Behind the Bee eaters, we watched long Crocodiles bask on sand bars, and across the river herds of elephant, baboon, and giraffe walked along the shore keeping us glued to our binoculars.
One evening, we went out for a sunset cruise and saw two rather large monitor lizards just basking in the setting sun on the banks of the river. The only monitor lizards I knew about were Komodo Dragons, to find other monitors in Africa was a real treat.
But, then we had to leave for the bush. We had to pack for a week with a weight limit a little over 10 kg, about 26 pounds. The good news was that Sausage Tree camp provided daily laundry service. So I packed light, just a few changes of clothes and a polypro coat and goretex windbreaker. The Nikon added significant weight, adding 5 pounds to my gear. In the end I placed 16 pounds on the scales. Given the overweight equipment we were going to haul with us I was pleased to be able to donate my 10 extra pounds to the group. After all those years of packing for the mountain under the tutelage of weighmaster Bob Ayers finally paid off. I kept hearing his words:"the weighmaster has a heart of iron, if any."
Three small planes whisked us into the bush to land at a small dirt airstrip named Jeki.
Go to Sausage Tree
Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty
13 July 2001