It’s Monday 3rd January 2011 and news from Mkulumadzi

Mkulumadzi lodge works are going very well thanks to Mark and Jenna’s excellent management skills and all the work they’ve put in during 2010. Also, Simon has been making a great contribution, leading the project for the last couple of months, after the young management couple went back to South Africa, to have the beautiful little Charlotte. After a fantastic season at Tena Tena, the multi-talented Simon changed his guide hat for a builder/project manager one and will now let us know about his time at Majete Wildlife Reserve:

building teambuilding team

When I arrived Majete was still dry and I was assured it would remain dry at least till I left in December. Never trust a local weather man! We got a lot of rain which was unusual for this area at that time of year.

Wild flowerKirk's Rock Agama

As many would know building in the rain is not fun however the change in the bush was, as always during the emerald season, miraculous. The wild flowers, frogs, birds and insects all came out of their hiding places and burst into flower or song depending on the best way to get attention.

WoodpeckerWild flower

The morning chorus was tremendous and with lots of the migratory birds arriving in the last few weeks the change in species calling is fantastic hearing the ‘Hello Georgie’ of the African Emerald cuckoo or the ‘pick my fro’ of the red chested cuckoo is always a sign the rains are here .

WarthhogNyala

This combined with the animals all gorging themselves on the new grass and developing nice fat stomachs has made for wonderful trips through the park on my way to various places. Many a trip with staff has resulted in us stopping to discuss the various behaviours of different mammals. But despite all the beauty of the bush I had to remember I wasn’t here to guide but to build a new camp. One of the problems in the October heat is the lack of shade. This makes it difficult for most of us to go outside in the mid day sun topping 44 degrees in the shade. So imagine the relief of workers on the site when the trees all sprout new leaves and shade covers the building site once more.

Main buildingStaff with goats

To help encourage the guys I purchased two goats and nicknamed them ‘Christmas’ and ‘New Years’ I then explained to the staff if we reached targets we would be having goat for lunch on the last day of building. Well these two goats became celebrities and everyone in the village where they had been kept began to call them by their nicknames… We reached our targets.

Cool mothAcrea’s

The rain this time of year falls in glorious thunderstorms that have raging winds ahead of them, spectacular thunderheads sprawling across the sky and buckets of water that they drop in minutes on your head like a swimming pool. The lightening storms are a fantastic spectacle and the storms rarely last more then half an hour and then often the sky’s clear up and life continues the birds sing, butterflies miraculously re appear and the flying ants begin to look for new homes to start a colony. On a building site the rain often bought welcome relief from the heat and work continued on after the 30 minute interruption or when the rain fell late in the afternoon the staff would head home in the truck getting soaking wet and happy that they got an early mark!

Foot bridgeslab complete

Mark and Jenna had left me with some fun projects and with an enthusiastic team we got a lot done. All first 5 chalets now have roofs and the main building has a wonderful thatch cap. We also managed to deck an 80m foot bridge over the Mkulumadzi River, which Mark and the contract builder, Nick Gaunt, started earlier in the year. The back of house stores has also come a long way. A low level crossing was finished across the Mkulumadzi River and hopefully will hold up to the big torrents that race down this river in the rains.

The site and camp are beginning to take shape and we can all begin to see the beauty and promise of this exciting camp coming together. Mark also recently interviewed several Malawian applicants for jobs and after putting them through a rigorous week of assessments with Keyala (from Zambia) they selected two applicants that will go to the Luangwa Valley for training and are ready to become guides next year (steep slope ahead of them). Anyway enough news from this end. Look forward to the continuing stories of development from Mark and Jenna next year

I hope you all had fun over the holiday period and catch you in the bush soon.

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