Thursday, November 16, 2006

Life skills and birthday blues

Every day Mrs B and I learn more about Tonka, the Land Rover, and discover more and more skills that we are lacking.
Our current list of things to learn how to do includes:
1. Welding. The guy in the workshop here in Kruger's Pretoriuskop Camp said I was welcome to use his welding machine to try and fix my broken gearstick, but he didn't know how to weld and the "welding guy" was not around.  As a result we've been waiting two days for the Land Rover mechanic from a neighbouring town to come out and weld for us.
2. Auto electrics.  Mrs B already knows more than the average motor mechanic about earthing batteries and, as a result of diagnosing problems on two occasions she is considering enrolling in an Auto Electricians course at TAFE (technical and further education colleges in Australia) when we get home.
3. Diesel mechanics.  I think that if I ever get to the stage where I don't have to do my day job to support my writing, I will become a diesel mechanic.  This will save a lot of time and money. 
Today is the diminutive (5'2") Mrs B's birthday.  It's not a landmark one, but it's very close.
She is doing her best to remain chipper, despite the lack of gearstick (which means we can't go out spotting animals which is, apart from writing books, the chief reason we come to Africa).
We went on a night drive from Pretoriuskop as a consolation prize the other night.  Night drives are conducted by national parks guides who drive a 23-seat truck equipped with spotlights.  No one else is allowed to drive in the national park after sunset, so this is a good way to see night animals, and big cats up and about doing stuff (as opposed to sleeping, which they do during the day).
It was a nice idea, and we did see two separate groups of lions (three lionesses on the prowl and two big males snoozing on the sun-warmed tar road), but... we also had to endure a lot of talking along the way.  Backpackers chatting each other up; old Canadians wanting to know if there would be a rest-room on the way (this, half way through the drive, in the middle of the bush!); and the precocious only child with new camera "why can't the lights be BRIGHTER, mom?"
The good thing about night drives is watching the group dynamic at the start of the trip.  The pushiest, loudest people always race each other to get on the truck first and sit up front behind the driver, thinking they'll spot the good stuff first.  What they never count on, however, is that as they are seated above the windscreen, and the trucks have open fronts and sides.  When the spotlights go on the bugs flock to the truck and those in the front seats get moths and termites and all manner of other creepy crawlies smacking into their eyes, mouths and noses. It shuts them up for a little while. 


Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Happy Birthday N-! (Dammit, Tony, will you please stop calling your lovely wife Mrs Blog and come up with something more civilised so I can wish her a nicer birthday on your blog?)

But the gearstick? Majorly suckful. Glad you found some consolation in the night drive.

The Prof says they offer Auto electrical at Meadowbank TAFE.

Anonymous said...

Huge Happy Birthday Mrs B.... Only 12 months to go YIPPEEEE!

Deb said...

Sorry - still getting used to the whole blog thing.... the previous anonymous blog is me.
Love to you both

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Mrs B. I know it's a little late but birthday celebrates last a week in our house so the same applies. Have fun come back soon. :)