11. Another go at getting the pump running at Busami

I got up early and packed up then went to the kitchen for breakfast. I was really sad to be leaving because Aisha and Yusuf have looked after me so well, but we need to stay closer to Busami because the drive is just way too long after a late finish.

It was just Nicola and I in the car this morning so I started his interview as we drove. As we drove past the Serengeti I spotted three elephants walking along!!! And then a herd of wildebeest.

As I suspected, Jose, who we were supposed to collect at 8, was not at the junction and when we called he said he was half an hour away, so we stopped at a cafe and had tea and donuts. That’s when I finished Nicola’s interview. The only trouble with waiting was that of course the dude didn’t show up! But someone else decided to join us and made us wait even longer! Then we had to collect Jose from a different junction further down the road. So it was 1030 by the time we started work.

I sprang into action to get the team working on pulling 950m of blue control fibre through separate 50m sections of the black pipe. It’s really hard to imagine how large a pile of 950m of cable looks like but it was daunting. We got off to a shaky start with some serious knots but after a few goes we got into a rhythm with different people knowing their roles. One guy was really good at coiling the cable so it could easily be fed through the next section.

One of the team members who was very good at coiling the control cable neatly

I oversaw various parts of the work but I also spent ages hauling the cable through the duct. It was pretty good exercise!

Local helper feeding a long length of blue cable into the protective pipe from neat piles

That task took all day and involved a dozen people working constantly with lots of different tasks to secure each section of the pipe.

A team member feeding the guide wire into a long section of protective pipe

After we finished threading the cable through the pipe at about 5pm, food was ready at George’s house and so the work party all piled in to enjoy some rice and tiny fish. I was lucky enough to be given my own plate along with a couple of the other guests, rather than eating from the communal plates as I had expected.

A plate of rice topped with tiny fish

After lunch I helped Nicola run a continuity test on the cable and then I got back to work with Jodie closing up all of the gaps between the cable duct sections and taping them together. We put the cable into the trench and then a work party followed us along, filling in the trench. We were in an enormous hurry at this point because I had spotted a horrible storm rolling in. So when Jodie went to find more duct tape, I ended up sprinting up and down the trench with two guys helping me to get it done before the worst of the storm hit. I had my rain jacket with me – I wasn’t taking a chance that I’d get as drenched as yesterday! I reached the end, but found that one section of the trench had been prematurely filled in as it formed part of the road, so I took shelter to wait for the worst of the storm to pass and then Jodie and Nicola arrived from different directions and we waited for a work party to dig out that section so we could drop the final section of pipe to be buried safely below the road. It was dark at this point so I held up a light, thankful that the rain had mostly passed.

A small flock of Guinea fowl

Our journey back was eventful, with Jodie’s car getting stuck twice on one of the wet muddy diversion sections. We saw a snake slithering across the road but as we stayed overnight at JN Lodge, we didn’t get to pass near the Serengeti again, so no more elephants on this trip!

I checked into my room at 9pm, had a shower and washed my filthy clothes and then sat outside in the restaurant area noting what money I had spent over the past week, while waiting for Jodie and Nicola to join me for dinner. We had quite a feast, with rice, beans and a tomato sauce, as well as Chips Mayai (omelette with chips in). After dinner, I finally interviewed Jodie and gave them both a commemorative Winston Churchill coin before saying goodbye to Nicola and heading to bed.

I was trying to type some things on my phone but I was so tired that I almost dropped my phone on my face so I went to sleep!

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