My only-one-year-old 6-cylinder Land Rover was playing up. Beside the trouble with the front steering arm falling off, it had been sent to Beira to have the differential overhauled a month or two back, the speedo-cable kept breaking, which made it difficult to claim my mileage from the agricultural survey company for whom I worked. The rings also seemed to be giving in, so I just hoped that it would last out the year.We had done enough pit-siting for our own use to be able to start the mapping phase, so the inevitable Co-ordination was held to tie our disparate opinions together into a cohesive entity. A selection of head office personnel and consultants arrived by AOC (our sister company) ZS-DJK, one of their DC3 Dakotas. Doc R.F. Loxton, our main boss had his new manager, Tony Venn, with him, as well as pasture, irrigation, botany and geology experts. In several vehicles, we would travel from one man’s area to the next, comparing the different soil types and communities so that there would be no separation of types that were in fact the same. It would be our opportunity to check up on, and increase, our knowledge of the trees, shrubs and grasses.
“Coitus interrupta,” William told him. Everyone who heard him had to cover their mouths or look away, coughing.
Derek asked him how to spell it, as he wrote it down.
After Co-ordination, we were flown over the combined area in ZS-DJK, the company plane, at about 300 feet. It was very hot without air-conditioning, and bumpy. Two men were sick. Besides being a bit queasy, I loved it. We flew over two herds of buffalo, which was a thrill to see.With Co-ordination done and dusted, it was time to start the mapping phase of the job using aerial photos; we could trace the extent of the soil types and vegetation communities. However, the Client wanted a huge number of soil samples; far more than were necessary, so these pits had to be dug and described, which was very monotonous, especially in my area which consisted largely of pale red sands. In one such pit, I found a Suni antelope.
One night Spine van Niekerk and William Bond arrived at my camp to stay over. I had been expecting them, but they were a lot later that I thought they would be, and both were rather upset. In the rear of their Landy lay the carcasses of a pair of bush-pigs (Potamochoerus larvatus), which they had been unable to avoid in the road. Both of the pigs had broken limbs. Neither man had a firearm with which to put them out of their misery. The only tool with which they could do the job was a geological hammer, which we all possessed to take samples from the soil profile in the pits. Both men were not the type to take a life easily and they were sickened by having to hack away at the pigs until they died. I took the carcasses off their hands; what a feast we had!
Joey Bowbrick had called in at my friend Charles’ camp and reported that his gaboon vipers in the pit, there, were well. They were being looked after by his old camp-man, who faithfully believed that Charles would return. At Co-ordination, Doc Loxton had confirmed that Charles had been dismissed as he was unable to work in a malarial area. With a few beers under my belt, I had been quite loud in my protest as to the unfairness of that.
I wasn’t expecting to see Charles again, but…