Sunday, 29 August 2010

Take me home, country road...

At last, the ordeal is over! simple terms, my time in Kenya is drawing to a close with my trip home starting tomorrow.

Tonight we are all having a BBQ and a couple of celebratory drinks after what has been a very interesting 6 weeks.

Speaking of interesting, I have just returned from a 4 day excursion to a forward operating base to try to fix a poorly helicopter. It was very hot, very sweaty and very hard work...15hour days were worked...but unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to hand over to the next people to arrive in Kenya. While we were there we were living in a nice air conditioned tent and had showers and toilets available to us.

The drive up to the FOB was about 7 hours after a small detour due to getting a little bit confused on the way...but we were quicker on the way back; taking only 5 hours...

The terrain was partly tarmac, partly gravel and partly a 4 ton truck with a bumpy and slow were the names of the games...still good fun though.

On the trip, we saw Ostrich, Zebra, Dik-dik, a big Eagle of some description, Camels, Hares and even the odd lizard...but Elephants or Giraffes...

well...that's me...I'm off to finish packing and then I'm off to eat some BBQ meat of some description...anyone for Zebra?

See you through the dusty heat haze!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sunday...after a busy week.

This week has been one of long shifts and hard play. We have been busy trying to keep the helicopters flying while, on our off-shift, doing compulsory adventurous training. It has certainly been a bit of an eye opener...and the things I have done this week are definitely on a par with stroking a cheetah!

So...picked up at 08:00 and after a two hour drive down tracks and bumpy lanes and a short climb, I ended up here:

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...and the view was a bit like this:

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...definitely a good way to start the day...

After a couple of hours climbing around the rock-face we went on a further hours drive along EXTREMELY bumpy terrain, through a forrest and down to a riverside spot for lunch. After that we jumped into the river from a 5 metre outcrop and swam down stream a bit, climbing out and scrambling about until we reached the top of a 30 metre waterfall. Once my group were ready we abseiled down the waterfall and had a bit of a swim at the bottom while the rest of the group followed. Now you waould have thought that was adventurous enough...but I guess there are no limits to what you can get up after a bit of a trek further along the river, we found ourselves looking down from a 14 metre outcrop into the clear water of the river. After a brief pointer as to where it was safe to land...avoiding the rocks...we all jumped in! It was definitely a case of overcoming your instincts for me...but I did it...and a further one at the same height followed by another one from slightly lower...

We were very lucky on the day because once we had dried off and started the trip home, a storm broke and there was torrential rain that made getting home quite a slippery driving experience. At least we missed the rain because two days later, the river was so muddy that it wasn't deemed safe for the the following groups didn't get to jump off the high outcrops...which was a great shame for them. top everything off, I have been selected to lead a small group up to a landing site to start the recovery of a rather poorly helicopter. That means I will be driving, cross-country, for about 6 hours with an awful lot of equipment to a place where I will be living in tents and working long shifts...and I only have about 8 days left here. The place I am going is in the African mountains and has really poor signal strength for mobiles and if it is quiet'll know why.

Well...that is about it for today...I would have said that I am planning lots of hobby stuff...but I haven't been...all I have been looking forward to at the moment is to get home to my wife and family and regain a bit of normality...the hobby will come, when it comes.

See you through the murky depths...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Two weeks to a state of normality...

I've just had word of flights home...only two more weeks and it is back to earth!

Can't be bad, can it?

See you through the rain soaked camo-net!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The animals came in two-by two...

I have had a great day today. I worked until midday, had a nice curry for lunch and then went to an animal orphanage, not far from where I am staying out here. It was quite an experience and for a few Kenyan Shillings, things got very interesting... is a pic of me being used as a feeding station by a Colobus Monkey:

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The same feeding station but with a different kind of monkey (I can't remember the species...sorry):

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After the monkeys had finished, I managed to go and see some Cheetas...but I never thought I'd get this close...

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I was lost for words over the cheeta meeting and had a cheesy grin for the rest of the afternoon. What did this little trip cost? Less than 3000Kenyan Shillings (that is less than £26-00)...the best money I have spent in a fair while, I can tell you.

After the trip to the animal orphanage, we went to a rather posh country hotel and had coffee and a few beers over looking the grounds. There were peacocks, storks and all manner of other birds pottering about the immaculately kept grounds and croquet lawn. I should have taken my swimming shorts as they had a really nice outdoor pool too...

I guess I won't be topping this day too soon...although Tuesday, I will be abseiling down a waterfall, canyoning and rock climbing...go figure?!

Did I say that I am getting paid to do all this (as well as work very hard out here)? That is, as they say, life in a blue suit!

See you across the savannah

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A Sunday update...on Wednesday?

Arrgghhh! Where did Sunday go?

I'd like to apologise for the lack of an update on Sunday but I have been off to a remote part of Kenya to work on one of my helicopters. It was in a pretty mountainous region and phone signals were non existant...and I only got back last night so a Wednesday morning update was in order.

Over the lasy week, I have been living in a tent, using solar showers, eating from a field kitchen and working in very hot and dusty conditions (with limited changes of clothing..."you'll only be there for a day or so", they said...) has been a blast :). Just to confirm that last comment, here was the view from my office one evening:

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Kenya can be beautiful and trying all at the same time. My office was a helicopter parked on the dirt, with a landrover and two lorries for doesn't get a lot more 'real' than that...well...unless it was a conflict area...

I was lucky to get a helicopter flight to the destination and a return trip via truck over some 'interesting' terrain. On the way up I saw some elephants but was too high up to get a good here is a bad one instead:

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I felt there was a need to ring the elephants so that you could see them...a mother and calf on the left and other elephants elsewhere.

The five hour truck ride back was an enormous amount of fun too...people pay good money for opportunities like that and I was getting paid for it...PRICELESS!!!

So...there you have it. I have returned, scrubbed up and have got back a semblance of normality before the next unplanned trip to...who knows where?

See you through the dusty downwash!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Another Sunday update...

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Time flies when you are having fun...and this trip to Kenya is no exception.

I am working an extremely flexible work pattern at the moment which has ranged from 8 to 15 hour days...but it has certainly not been boring.

The group of us that are out here are currently split into two of them down at Nairobi and one up in Laikipya (my one). Once we are all together again, we can start a rotating shift pattern which will make life a bit more the moment it is a bit like relying on chicken bones to decide when we are working. It IS quite fun though :).

I didn't get all of my washing back but I only lost a pair of socks so I wasn't too least I got my uniform back!

It has still managed to rain every day since I arrived here but the rain is warm...even though it buckets down.

I have lost track of all the wildlife I've seen but it always seems to evade my camera...I'll get there eventually!

I am currently two hours ahead of the UK so it is gone midnight here...and I am very I am calling it a day!

It gets dark instantly here, I've never known a place like it.

See you blindly, with my fingers and outstretched hands!