7. The first night was spent tossing and turning

The first night was spent tossing and turning because of a combination of nerves, heat and withdrawal symptoms, as I had not got enough to drink by far. In one of my crazy moments I decided that night to go ‘cold turkey’. Always seem to do things the hard way; a forward training camp is not the ideal place to go dry, most people get into a Rehab center where they get the proper care and nutrition. What the hell, made about a month clean time. So much for the first night in-country. The next morning I awoke and looked around, the tent was similar to any army tent but all the sides had been lifted, this was because of the extreme heat. You will notice that I mention the heat often; in South Africa if it gets below 19 degrees I complain but very seldom do I feel it is too hot. The floor was, sand. Outside the tent was partially cleared bush and footpaths. Near the tent we were in was a huge Baobab, I was to see plenty more during my stay, and one of the Rhodesian guys was kind enough to share his knowledge of all the different things a baobab can be used for. The seed pod makes a decent cup, the seeds if ground up make a coffee-like drink in hot water, the bark can be cut into strips and use for various applications even a pair of make shift sandals. Also, more often than not the fork in the tree is hollow and one can find drinkable water up there. One has to knock wooded pegs into the soft thick bark and make steps to get up these huge trees. Not visible from my first tent was the Rio Longa, noticing the reeds I took a walk and was surprised at the sheer size of this river. On the map it is marked as a smallish river, in real life it is wider than the Vaal in full flood, by far. It is a muddy brown colour and seems to be moving at a sluggish pace. This is a deception as a few months later we saw a whole island the size of two Mack trucks rush past us at about 20-30 km an hour!

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