I think we’ve got about 45 minutes more power today and then the lights will go off abruptly and I’ll swear as I stumble through to the ablution block in the dark to brush my teeth. No cold shower for me tonight. I’ll save that for tomorrow.
Right now I’m sitting in my sleeping bag in my corner-bed and feeling pleased that I made it through the day without any major mishap. I’m sad that I’m away on deployment (missing L, missing home) and anxious about what will happen here and in Sudan but I’m glad that I made it this far. And L put little scan pics in my books to remind me of our little turtle. I felt bad that I couldn’t comfort her in person when she was feeling sad this evening but I did say that I’d call every day and text her a lot. So far I’ve found one present in my packing (The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds) and of course it’s just the sort of book I love and so it’s one more confirmation (if one was needed) that I’m really lucky to have found L.
Just to tell you briefly about our holiday, we had a lovely three days away in Sedgefield staying in a luxury treehouse. We walked, admired the indigenous forest, listened to the birds, admired the views some more, breathed in the fresh air, cooked, ate delicious food, read, played scrabble, watched Foyle’s War, got lost on the River Walk, took pictures, nearly froze in chilly temperatures, had lovely baths, made friends with a Cape Robin, saw a Knysna Lourie and generally did the kinds of things that you would expect on such a holiday. Perfect. (Thanks to L for booking and catering.)
And on the last day, as I was writing a message in the guest book about our time there, who should I discover had a left a similar message from a year before? Charlotte! How cool is that? I had no idea that she’d been there but it does make sense that we would like similar places since we share similar perspectives on other things.
And then we were driving back to Cape Town and I was trying to avoid packing until I couldn’t anymore and then also having lunch with my family. My sister organised the most beautiful cake in the shape of the map of Africa showing South Africa and Sudan and decorated it with toy soldiers. It was quite brilliant. And L made the most scrumptious trifle in honour of my gran who would have been 108 years old on Sunday (if she hadn’t died 21 years before).
But back to today. Just to let you know that I’m fine and surviving deployment life so far. I’m not crazy about sharing a big tent with nine other guys but they seem nice enough. The guy opposite is M, who will be replacing me in Sudan in December, and we’ve been keeping each other company today since we both caught the same flight and lift here.
Supper was dreary. Rice, stew and cauliflower in a tin box (called a Dixie) and we ate in the dark since the lights went out.
One funny thing I should tell you about. I was just congratulating myself on getting a corner bed when a Colonel walks in and tells me that I’m on his bed. This was like being back at boarding school where the prefects throw their weight around. Except I didn’t notice his rank and so when he told me that this was his bed, I politely said that I didn’t see anything on it when I came in and that I would prefer to stay here if he didn’t mind. He then moved off to the next tent and it was only when he’d gone that the others started laughing and told me that I (as a lowly Captain) had just gone against the hierarchy by standing up to a Colonel. He subsequently came back in later (about something else) and there doesn’t appear to be any animosity although my anxiety levels spiked a little when I thought he was sitting next to me at dinner (in the dark). Perhaps I can just plead ignorance on most military matters and get through the next three months that way.
A couple of pics:
And then where I’d rather be (and where L and I were last week) …