Deployment: Day one

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:

This is what a weatherhaven looks like

And then where I’d rather be (and where L and I were last week) …

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12 Responses to Deployment: Day one

  1. yogurt says:

    Such a contrast between your tree house and your tent! And way to go, assertively requesting your bed from a Colonel! He probably respects you more for it.

  2. Harriet says:

    Aw Pete. I miss you. And I don’t even really know you. You’re a good guy, you know that?

  3. Pete says:

    Yogurt – I think you’re right about the Colonel. As it turns out, he’s our commander (for the medics) so I cringe inwardly every time I see him!

    Harriet – Aw, thanks!

  4. litlove says:

    I’m so glad to hear you sounding so chipper! I feel for you – stuck out there in not-great conditions and without L (and my heart goes out to her, too). But you’re surviving, and the time will pass and it must be some reassurance to have the guy replacing you right there in front of your eyes! And I’m very glad you can blog, too – keep us posted! xoxox

  5. You seem to be doing very well so far! Well done for booting out the colonel.

    As for those luxury treehouses, I can attest that they are gorgeous. Clearly we do have lots in common, and one day we will meet, along with your L and your baby, and GTH and my babies, and drink wine and talk books!

  6. Grad says:

    Love the tree house, Pete! Hang in there, buddy. Actually, the view from the weatherhaven is lovely. Look at that sky! And I agree with Harriet…you ARE a good guy.

  7. Pete says:

    Litlove – Thanks! I’m also very glad I can still blog. Admittedly my reading span is short and this is not a place that encourages independent thought but I can still read and blog which is great.

    Charlotte – That would be really great! When you come out to SA to launch your book we’ll have to schedule a wine and books session!

    Grad – Thanks. The view here is pretty good (and quite calming). There’s definitely a mix of good and bad here. By the way, am sure your letter will arrive soon and then L can read it to me. Would be interested to hear more about your son’s experience (and I hope he doesn’t need to go again for a while).

  8. The treehouse looks amazing. I’m glad the first day went okay for you. I can’t wait to hear that you’re back home with L.

  9. David says:

    December isn’t that far away, and yet … so very far when one is in a tent with rations in a box, and oceans away from loved ones. Glad you’re able to keep us updated.

  10. Wow! I was engaged with this post! I love the treehouse! Obviously! Hang in there…

  11. Pete says:

    Lilian – Thanks. Good news is that L is coming up for a visit. Reckon I can bunk out for a little while 😉

    David – Yes, I’m able to from South Africa. Not so sure about Sudan. Will post some pics soon.

    photographyfree4all – Thanks for the visit. You would have loved the birds in the indigenous forest. The Knysna Lourie alone was fantastic.

  12. doctordi says:

    Loving all these photos of the past few weeks – I feel all caught up in record time – and can’t believe you stumbled across Charlotte’s comment in the same guest book – that is CRAZY!

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