Floored in Zam Zam

It’s great to be back in internet contact again. I was out in the wilderness there for a while and couldn’t even text L.

No major news from this side other than that I’m really hoping that I make it back to South Africa by the middle of December. I suppose I can’t really discuss flight-dates here (although, really, as if anyone would actually read this and act on it) so let me just say that it’s an anxious, uncertain wait. The dates change quite frequently and when I finally do get a date, then I find that I’m going to miss it for x and y reasons.

For the last week I’ve been stuck in El Fasher while I wait to go back to Kutum. Before that I visited Malha, which is easily the best-looking of the SA bases that I’ve seen. The food was good, the showers were reasonably clean and we even got to do a bit of sight-seeing. WordPress won’t let me post pics at the moment otherwise I would show you a picture of the crater at Malha, complete with a herd of camels drinking water.

No-one knows for sure whether the crater is the top of an extinct volcano or the crash-site of a meteor. Judging by all the volcanic rocks in the vicinity I’d go with the volcano explanation. But it was pretty cool in contrast to the surrounding desert.

And then, rather embarrassingly, I managed to injure myself running out of one of the tents here in El Fasher. I had just been summoned by a rather stern-looking major and perhaps I thought that I was in trouble or that he had news of my long-awaited return to South Africa. What happened was that my cap obscured the low doorframe and I hit it at pace and went straight down as if I’d be punched on the nose by Mike Tyson. I’m not sure if my head hit the floor when I went down but I did see a few comic-book-like stars. And then my teeth hurt and I realised I’d scraped some skin off my nose and my scalp. It’s a good thing the wedding isn’t next week because I would have a devil of a time getting there in time, and scarface isn’t quite the look I was aiming for.

I did feel a little better knowing that I wasn’t alone in my head-banging stupidity, however, At least two other guys showed me their door-inflicted injuries as well. And while I am grateful that that I didn’t lose any teeth or get a concussion, my head is letting me know that it doesn’t appreciate this.

The camp where I’m staying this week is called Zam Zam and it’s run by the Rwandans, who are generally a polite lot. “Good evening sir” is quite a common greeting, sometimes followed by “I’m fine” regardless of whether I’ve actually asked them how they are. But then South Africans are known for their “Howzit” so perhaps that explains it.

Some Rwandans stare at me as if a) they think that I might perhaps be French (they blame the French for the 1994 genocide); or b) they don’t like Mzungus (whities) very much. Having said that, thought, I was greeted the other day by “I love you” followed by a hug. Perhaps I looked like I needed cheering up.

I hope to be back in blog-reading mode very soon. In the meantime, I’m still grinning at the news that Di and Llew are the parents of a brand-new baby boy. Whoohoo.


10 Responses to Floored in Zam Zam

  1. I’m glad to hear you’re hopefully going to be home soon, Pete. No major news is good news.

  2. litlove says:

    I agree with Lilian, no news is good news and I’ve got my fingers crossed that you have a fixed date of return very soon. And oh your poor head! Owwie-ouchie! Very relieved you kept all your teeth, eyeballs, ears, etc. Keep on taking care of yourself – the end must be in sight now.

  3. It would be too ironic if, after deployment to the Sudan, a doorframe was what did you in. Those trappings of civilization are a bugger.

  4. Grad says:

    Graceful exit, Pete! I’ve been known to do the same thing on occasion, although in my case alcohol was ususally involved (and I was much younger then). Hopefully you will be home very soon – fully mended.

  5. yogurt says:

    Did the I love you hug happen after the bump on your head or before? Either way, sounds like you would have appreciated a hug. That is really so sweet.

  6. doctordi says:

    Pete, I am *finally* starting to poke my head in at everyone’s blogs to catch up on lives other than my own, and it’s so good to be here – THANK YOU for the smiles on our account – you can keep smiling, too, as it’s all going really well. He is gorgeous! Now, I hope there have been no further slapstick-style injuries at the base!!! I know it wasn’t actually comical at all, but your description was still pretty damn amusing.

    Everything crossed and pressed for news on your return date, and Baby J shakes two fists at the administration!

  7. doctordi says:

    p.s. Zam Zam – surely the coolest place name on the planet…?

  8. Pete says:

    Lilian, Litlove, David, Grad, Yogurt, DoctorDi – Thanks for the support and excuse the group reply. I’m still grounded in El Fasher (where Zam Zam is). Very frustrating as I’m sure you can imagine. At this stage I don’t know when the flight will arrive. Could take another week. But am just taking things day by day and trying to stay motivated and positive. If the flight’s not here by Sunday I might have to buy my own ticket, which at Christmas will not be cheap! Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

  9. doctordi says:

    I think a day by day approach sounds sanity-saving… hope you get good news soon, Pete.

  10. Smithereens says:

    Hope your flight arrives soon enough! Keeping fingers crossed for you…

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