It’s Monday 27th April 2009 and caterers take over camp

Jo asked the three of us to write this weeks It’s Monday and as Lucinda was jotting down a few notes to go through with Emma and Riki whilst waiting for guests to return from their morning drive at Luangwa Safari House she looked up to see three beautiful bull elephants walking towards the lagoon in the front of the House, and there is your answer to a couple of the most common questions guests ask us – what could be more perfect and why do we do it?!

Lucinda, Emma and RikiEles at the Safari House

So why do we do it and what brought us here?  For all three of us our answers are different, but one thing is for certain – we all love it!  Everyday challenges are met, and mostly, overcome!  Perhaps one challenge that is still eluding all three of us is not allowing the ice cream to melt en route from the kitchen to the table, any solutions do please send immediately!  A challenge that has met Lucinda this week is putting on a Traditional dinner as opposed to Western food for the lucky guests in Luangwa House who are staying for 21 nights.  Lucinda is therefore on a crash course learning about local produce – from where to buy it to how to cook it.

Traditional diningLamp light

Perhaps the challenges this week have been greater than usual as the bosses are away and the caterers are in charge – scary thought!!  So off loading supply trucks to liaising with guides have been added to our usual duties.  Luckily all three of us have forged close friendships, so all of this is accomplished with laughs and banter – work does not have to be boring.  The big banter this week was the welcoming of the latest  caterer – Riki.  When Riki arrived she thought she was called Frederike or Freddie, however that soon changed!!  We have a member of staff and a frequent pilot staying also called Freddie – which was far too confusing so the Great Name Debate started!  All staff and guests in camp were asked to submit suggestions.  These names included – Frieda, Otter, Clawless, Giant (all relevant to her surname – Otten), Dutch (which she is) or Oven.  Eventually Riki was settled on and she is being forced to get used to her new name!

Staff diningRiki

The other great thing about having a new caterer in camp is that Emma and Lucinda get to ‘teach’ her the important things like where Cuz Bar is (our sundowner spot – named after Simon Cousins, a guide/manager who worked here for 11 years) and taking her to the local bar – Flatdogs, where we put her through her induction (standing on the bar and telling three bad jokes) all of which we are pleased to report she successfully passed!

Sunset at the Cuz BarRobin's House gets a clean

Riki was put straight to work.  She will be the caterer at Robins House this season which is empty for a couple of days so she is using this time to scrub, sand, paint and polish this much loved house.  Emma (Ozzie) in the meantime has been having a wonderful time as Nkwali camp filled up with Australians for a week.  As Lucinda is a ‘Pom’ this caused much amusement all round – and much more banter on both sides.  (Vegemite v Marmite was visited!)

Bush sundownerBush Breakfast

On a more serious note we also do some work – believe it or not.  As the season is changing, opportunities for guests are opening up.  With the drier ground surprise bush dinners, breakfasts and sundowners keep popping up when the guests least expect them to.  Also with the seasonal change the fresh vegetables are changing much to the delight and excitement of caterers and chefs alike as the first of the season’s radishes and celery arrive.

As you can probably gather there is no such thing as a typical day in the African bush.  Each day brings with it new challenges, plenty of laughs and constant rewards, mainly in the form of the people we meet and the fabulous game and beautiful birds that obligingly come through camp, or whilst on game drives.  Is it possible for any job or location to be more idyllic than this? Our unanimous decision is no.

Emma, Lucinda & Riki

Valley view

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