In late April, we travelled west to Inhaminkala, a sawmill and Safari Camp, not to be found on any map, only fifty kilometres away but the trip took us several hours due to awful condition of the road, to visit our nearest neighbour, David Redpath, a recent recruit to Loxton, Venn & Associates, and his wife, Gill. We spent the Saturday night with them. At 2 o’clock we awoke to the sound of elephants browsing in the forest 200 metres away; an exciting first for us both. The area was a hunting concession on the edge of Gorongosa Game Reserve. Buffalo, lion, leopard and various antelope were their targets. David had established himself not far from the hunting safari camp, so they got to know the hunters and benefitted from a steady supply of venison.
I found several epiphytes in the forest that I suspected were orchids, and knowing that Ernst Burhoven-Jaspers, my father in –law, was a collector, we boxed up samples of what seemed to be different species and sent them off by post to him in Swakopmund. Letters from Greet’s family were frustratingly few, although she wrote often, but a source of great excitement when she received anything.
Already there were reports of Frelimo terrorist activity in the north-western part of the section we were surveying. A truck hit a landmine about ten kilometres from Derek Tawse’s camp, destroying the vehicle, but there were no fatalities. I had to take drums of fuel from Inhaminga to Willem Stuurman at whose camp we had our weekly survey meetings, as his source of fuel was now in a Frelimo-held village.
Co-ord, our name for the visit from our Sandton head-office’s experts in soil, cropping, vegetation, etc. came and went, during which time Greet went to stay with Ann Merryweather, our party-leader’s wife, in Mutarara. She took Shakwe, our dog, with her. She made use of the time, and Ann’s sewing machine, to make for herself three maternity dresses to accommodate her growing tummy.
With the area shrinking due to the terrorist activity, a third of it was to be surveyed by helicopter.
Early in June, I took Greet to Beira for a weekend; two nights in an hotel, saw a movie “The Heist” and ate out at a Chinese restaurant. The city improved her opinion of Mozambique, having been subjected so far only to small towns and bush life. She missed fresh milk a lot and wrote to my parent to say that, when she returned to stay with them when the baby was born, due in October, she hoped they had a big supply for her!The semi-deciduous forests south of the mighty Zambezi River in Mozambique still had a variety of useful indigenous timbers. Some sawmills had long since been abandoned as the immediate area was reaped of the older and larger timbers, but some still operated. It was from these that I hauled in Land Rover-loads of off-cuts to build our house on the edge of the little town of Inhaminga. The Redpaths also built their home from sawmill timber. Theirs was a magnificent affair, a double story with a balcony encircling their upstairs bedroom.
Greet started a vegetable garden of her own which flourished and kept her busy. She learned to bake bread with coals in an ant-hill oven.