Saturday, August 18, 2007

Blood, sweat and cheetahs

I'd forgotten how painfull camping can be. Five days into the and trip I have:

- sliced open knee on broken braai (barbie to the Aussies among you)

- sliced open forehead on roof rack bracket

- nearly sprained finger when head flew off hammer

- bumped head repeatedly on interior Land Rover fixtures

- caused general aches and pains to most of my body with resumption of fitness program after three weeks of farewell drinks and lunches.

The sweat referred to in the title of this post came the day before yesterday when I did something I thought I wouldn't have to do in a very long time - crawled under the Land Rover to fret over the gear box.

We'd gone out on an early morning game drive and become quite alarmed at a loud clunking noise from below. Mrs Blog and I are very attuned to every shake, rattle and roll in Tonka's creaky old body, and this was a new clunk. Definitely.

Returning to base camp I slid underneath in the dirt. After bumping my head twice and receiving a drop of (admittedly very clean) gear oil in the eye, I noticed the high-low range selector was only half engaged.

In a normal world me, a city-boy white-collar PR consultant, wouldn't even know what a high-low range selector was, let alone where to find it, but this is life and death stuff (well, sort of) in Africa.

With Mrs B jiggling selector leves we finally got the thing fully engaged, then disengaged. I'm assuming the problem was due to the gear box's new-ness. Everything seems a bit stiff, so why not the selector?

The alternative is that we (or someone else) has buggered the four/two-wheel drive selector and that next time we find ourselves drowning in mud or buried in sand we won't be able to extricate ourselves. We toyed with the idea of testing him out on a 4WD track, or returning to the Land Rover doctor for a full examination, but at the end of the day neither Mrs B nor I are emotionally equipped to deal with the thought that the world's most expensive gear box may be anything other than 100 per cent.

Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

And now, finally, the cheetahs (if the pic loads).

We went out for a drive this morning from Pretoriuskop to Skukuza. Tonka was ticker-tickering away like a Singer sewing machine and despite the park's busyness, we found ourselves pottering along alone on a dirt road near the southern border.

There, perched on a granite rock, within sight of a busy main road and settlements outside the park, were a mummy cheetah and her fairly mature cub.

Man and nature going about their business just a couple of kilometres apart.

Fantastic. Worth all the cuts, bumps, bruises, scratches and gearboxes in Africa.


Hann said...

Cheetahs are my most favorite African animal, just because of the mother's strong protectiveness, they are very good mothers!
Sorry to hear about all the injuries, it sounds like a rough start, from now on things will go easy I hope.
Thanks for the "Witrivier" mentioning. You should spot enough wildlife now in the winter season if it's dry enough, they tend to come out more now to find food and water.

meggie said...

Hope the Golden Gearbox holds true!
And the wounds heal.

tonypark said...

Thanks all for your kind comments.

I make my litany of injuries sound worse than they really are. However, I do manage to bump or cut myself most days while camping.

My float said...

Nothing quite like being dramatic!Of course, it always translates nicely in the books! Someone's gotta suffer.