Camping in Africa – part 2!

Posted: 20/08/2011 in Africa

Part 2 of the other things about camping in Africa. Electricity, wild animals, cooking/washing/chores and showers/loos.

Cooking, washing up and chores have taken on a whole new meaning out here. Firstly, let me say it’s amazing what Ebron can do on a gas cooktop or fire. It’s been almost 4 weeks and I don’t think we’ve had the same meal twice, plus he made an exquisite birthday cake without an oven – the man is a cooking machine! Our kitchen is stored on the back of the truck and everyday the boxes of utensils, plastic crockery, pots, condiments and so on are taken out. When we are on the road our lunch stops are really nice. We make our own sandwiches and have leftovers from dinner. 3 tables, the chairs and all the boxes and food come off the truck and we prepare, eat then store it all away again, usually in about half an hour. Quite the little routine we’ve got going on.

When we get up in the morning Ebron has already laid out the breakfast stuff and by now he knows how much I love (need) my morning coffee. Will also knows and despite this he makes a habit of greeting me exuberantly and vocally every morning and then makes loud, frightening noises until he knows I’m awake and it won’t annoy me anymore. He is well aware that I want to smack him but thinks it’s hilarious and so does it anyway. Besides that I can’t really injure him as I’m relying on his expert driving to get me to Cape Town. I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s not that I don’t like mornings, its just that they don’t like me. Even Ebron ignores my quietness (what others might call grumpy!!) and smiles and greets me with a “good morning” every day. Can I be clear here, the is no good in good morning, there is simply morning and there is coffee. To my credit I was very disciplined for a while, I think up until the second week at least. In that second week we left our campsite at 4am whereby I took down my tent, climbed back on the truck, crawled into my sleeping bag and went back to sleep. When we were woken 3 hours later for breakfast there was no opportunity to lay quietly for 10 minutes until somewhat functional (and by functional I mean able to put one foot in front of the other towards the coffee, hurrah for coffee), and no place to splash water on your face to wake up a little. Personally I like the idea of a coffee shower, how great would that be! Anyway, I crawl (feels like) to the tables set up and think I am being polite just as I have been for the last week and a bit until Will says “so we finally get to see what your really like first thing in the morning”. That’s when he started his irritating “Melinda morning greetings”, I have 4 weeks to come up with a payback so any ideas are welcome!

Anyway, huge digression, what was I talking about? Cooking, washing, chores. Washing up is a process but I get why. Can you imagine gastro in 18 people, on a truck, in the middle of nowhere while driving through Africa only to arrive at a campsite that already has 2 or 3 other overland vehicles with up to 30 people on board each one and only 2 freaking toilets in the whole campsite? So yeh I’m happy with the washing up process! There’s a rinse bucket, a wash one and a final rinse (with dettol in it) one. No towels, it’s all air dry and pots go on the fire to dry. Then it’s stack it in the boxes and put the boxes back on the truck. It all sounds tedious and annoying but amazingly it adds to the adventure of camping.

Then there’s clothes washing. I do whatever little things I can in the shower but then there’s the bigger things. Sometimes when there’s been nowhere to wash your clothes for a while and your really running out, at least one big thing has to be done in the shower. So, an easy way of doing it…leave them on, soap them up good and proper then take them off and scrub and rinse, hurrah! At other places you will find lovely troughs that have also been used for teeth cleaning, food preparation, dish washing (including the emptying of manky gross rinse dish water with all the food chunkies!!) and numerous other things. And then it’s wring dry and hang, hoping they’ll be dry before you leave the next day so you don’t end up with festy smelling half dried clothes in your locker. I miss my washing machine.

Showers and loos
What an interesting topic this one is, showers and toilets or should I rephrase it to “dribbling bits of water in scary boxes” and “no other option but this so I’ll use it-rooms”. Water is obviously not readily or easily accessible in Africa and so this needs to be taken into consideration but let me share a little of my shower experiences. The best shower was one in a bathroom surrounding a massive baobab tree. The showers were huge with stone floors, plenty of hot water with good pressure and it was clean. The worst was a tiny box with a filthy floor, blocked drain, shower hose with handle rather than a shower head and water with all sorts of weird floaties in it. Some showers are even old horse barns! Mostly though, they’re cold because without electricity one can’t get hot water and even if one could there are usually 30 other girls wanting to shower in the 2 available showers using all the hot water up.

The most memorable shower was when I went to turn up the water a little only to have the handle pop off and water come pouring out of the wall. I tried putting it back on but the pressure was to great and there was a bit missing. I’m standing there half soaped up, finger in the shower wall and realise I have to get someone. Of course I need to rinse off but my shower is now coming out of the wall rather than above me so I have to become some kind of contortionist, but one whose in a hurry coz I don’t want to waste water. It looks like I’m doing a weird shower dance. At the same time I’m calling out to the boys who couldn’t hear me, so end up having to half dry my semi soapy body, fully dress and run out to get one of them while precious African water is pouring out the wall. He fiddled with it but couldn’t fix it either and we couldn’t find the mains, so I end up standing there, finger in the hole with dripping wet hair, half dry soapy body that has half wet my clothes while he goes and finds someone. 5 hours later (it may have actually only been 5 minutes) I get my finger back!

Ahh the joys of camping in Africa!

  1. Michelle Harding says:

    Maybe you could just smile at Eborn and decline coffee first thing in the morning. He will think he is going ‘batty’.
    Loved reading about this experience. xx

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