It’s Monday 24th Jan 2005 and the ants live!

It’s Monday 24th Jan 2005 and the ants live!

The first few days of the week continued in “flood mode”. For light relief we decided to do something new and boat from the bar to “RoJo” – our house only 350 meters behind camp. To do this it meant boating down river some three kms and into the huge lagoon system behind the Nkwali land.

I had visions of pulling the boat through mud and portering it over dry ground in places. So we set off at three in the afternoon with the prize of cold mosi beers by sundowner in mind. It was a great feeling of adventure as we were in new boating territory. However, it soon became clear that is was a doddle. And we had to slow the process down a little to keep the adventure up!

The engine was turned off and the bamboo poles were put into use. I decided that my odd experiences of punting at Cambridge and Oxford in my distant youth made me an expert poler- (its a sort of throwing the pole up technique) – which I have to say lasted about five minutes. I soon sat down. Very tiring on the arms it turns out!

But there were hazards after all. Apart from encountering the odd swimmer, including a huge monitor lizard (and of course a number of surprised hippo), every blade of grass, every bush was a dry island for the flightless insects. You can imagine the urgent directional instructions loudly given from time to time as someone steered too close to an ant-heaving-bush. I could not help telling all these thousands of insects “hang on, you only have a few months to go!!” Seemed an impossibly daunting task to me. Finally we reached the house at least an hour early and the offer of tea was immediately rejected for the ice cold beers.

It is hard to describe the seasonal contrasts in the Luangwa. It still staggers me every year and this is my sixteenth green season !! Here is a picture from our balcony taken in October – with the ellys drinking in the same place we moored the boat.And note we had pumped the water – ok only a small cheat. Early this week we could have boated throughout the landscape in the picture. The seasonal contrasts here are really mind blowing.

The day ended with the view of a beautiful ‘white winged altas moth’ landing on our window screen. The ‘eyes’ in the wings were transparent – like tracing paper. A stunning creature.

So from a now relaxed team, although packed and ready for a flood at a moments notice, we say have a great week.

All the best

PS Who would have guessed that the plug would be pulled so soon. The water is now over a meter lower !! And many of those stranded ants will be on dry land again.

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