Monday, April 28, 2008
You wouldn’t think it would feel so good to be “home” when you’ve only lived there for a bit more than a week, but right now it feels pretty nice. When I left Maun 2 ½ weeks ago, I expected to be back in less than a week, but it was not to be. Since I left, I’ve been living out of my backpack and moving around quite a bit. The last few days in particular have been pretty taxing and quite busy, starting Saturday with the first of my flights after the airplane’s inspection in South Africa. I started out with a bang, shuttling people mostly between Jack’s Camp and Maun all day from 9am to 5pm without a break, and ended the day up in Jack’s Camp. I stayed the night in Jack’s Camp expecting to transfer some passengers to another camp in the delta come morning. Shortly before I was due to leave with the passengers, I got a call from Mark Spicer telling me that there was a patient in Kasane who urgently needed transport to Francistown for emergency surgery after a bad car accident (the patient was not a citizen so couldn’t be transferred under our contract with the Ministry of Health, meaning that Flying Mission would very likely not see any payment for the flight). After considering our options and figuring out how to juggle around the passengers I was supposed to be flying out, we elected to put the passengers on a later flight out of Jack’s while I started on my way to Kasane to pick up the patient (it was a bit of a hassle for the passengers, who were very gracious in shifting their schedules so we could take the patient). I arrived in Kasane around midday and met the patient, an Indian woman, at the airport. After shuffling around and removing some seats, we were able to fit the stretcher in one side of the 207 while the two nurses accompanying the patient sat beside her. Two hours later we had her on the ground in Francistown, where she was whisked away in an ambulance to the operating theater. Finally, on the last of three two-hour legs, I returned by myself to Maun and came back to my house for the first time in nearly three weeks. So here I am at last, once again with a bed and a kitchen and a desk to call my own. Life is good.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
So as I said last time, I brought the Cessna 207 that I've been flying in Maun down to South Africa to have an inspection done on it, fully expecting that the inspection would take, at the very longest, a week. Shoulda known better. The inspection itself was finished by Wednesday (in three days, that is), but on Wednesday morning, as we were putting the plane back together and finishing up a few little details that needed attention, one of the mechanics here found a crack in the nosewheel fork. The fork is the part that comes down over top of the wheel on both sides and holds the axle, much like a bicycle fork. Closer inspection revealed that the crack was pretty serious and extended through one of the bolt holes. Since then it's been sort of a comedy of errors in getting the replacement part here...to make a long story short, the couriers who were to bring the part messed up at least 3 different times and when the part finally arrived days later, it was the wrong part. So currently we're scrambling to see if one part that a shop in a nearby town has is the right one, which is our last chance to get the part from somewhere in South Africa. If that doesn't work out, we're back to square one and have to order the part from the US, and that would take at least 10 days to get here and be horridly expensive. The long and short of it is that I've been sitting at Mercy Air in South Africa (granted, not the worst place in the world to be stuck...I've met some really neat people here) for much longer than I would wish. But hey, you just gotta roll with the punches. One of these days I'll actually make it back to Maun and start being a real pilot instead of sitting on my rear for weeks on end.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Life has been a bit crazy for the last few weeks. I moved to Maun (where I don't yet have regular internet access) and got settled in there, doing orientation and such with Tim for a while. Then last week I stayed two nights at Jacks Camp (which is the camp we're doing most of our flying for from Maun), which is in the bush without cell phone or internet connections (at least no internet that was available to me). Right after that, I flew the airplane down to Gabs and will be flying it on to South Africa tomorrow, where it will have an inspection done on it that will probably take most of the week. After which I make the long flight back to Maun. So I'm sort of all over the place these days and haven't had much time or opportunity to sit down and write anything for the blog. All of that to say, once i get settled again, more updates will be forthcoming. For now, though, things are a bit scattered. To hold you over, though, I put up a few more pictures from our trip last month.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I thought you might enjoy this sign. Stefan came across it while on the way to Kgale Hill, the most prominent Gaborone landmark just southwest of the city. I like the resignation that the sign implies…people are going to litter, so they might as well do it in a convenient place for clean-up. There were of course a few pieces of trash right under the sign, thankfully on the right side of the fence. Littering is a real problem here, and I guess it would probably be a lot worse if the population was higher than it is. I saw a billboard the other day saying something to the effect of “a proud nation doesn’t litter to provide job security,” although I don’t remember the exact wording. Such efforts haven’t deterred everybody though. On my way to Maun, I stopped to pick up a hitchhiker who was walking (under a rather oppressive sun) towards the next village about 5 km down the road. I offered him the last of the crackers that I had been snacking on along the way, which he gladly accepted. He finished off the last two and casually chucked the plastic wrapper out the window. I seriously considered slamming the car to a halt, lecturing him on the evils of dirtying up his beautiful country, and going back to find the trash but quickly thought better of it. I decided it’s much more his country than it is mine, not to mention that his English wasn’t all that good and my Setswana is a heck of a lot worse so I probably couldn’t have communicated too much anyway.