It’s Monday 6th February 2006 and the Aussie speaks at last

Hi howz it. Well after being with the company for five months and skillfully ducking and weaving away from the computer I have finally been trapped into writing an ‘Its Monday’. Hi – I’m Simon, I am reformed and I am the workshop manager for RPS. You might remember me from previous “It’s Mondays” in which I have been holding beers – for other people…

Well a quick background on me. I’m an African born Australian. I have spent the last fourteen years in Australia and the last five working for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. My previous job was a technical officer specializing in pest animal and weed control, planning for fire control, remote area fire fighting and monitoring of endangered and threatened species. I visited Nkwali in May 2005 to catch-up with an old school friend (Simon Cousins, a previous all star of RPS). Unfortunately (imagine a bit of Australian sarcasm) the Luangwa took a grip on me again, as it had done as a child visiting the area with family. After applying to RPS for the workshop manager’s job I gave up my cushy five day a week job in a nice little coastal town in Aussie to come and work in the valley. I haven’t regretted it since.

Workshoptrucks

I have secretly been looking forward to doing Its Monday.  I constantly read about the animals, sunsets and great experiences of guests but have rarely seen stories of the little pixies behind the scenes that make everything run smoothly and make plan B (or Z) when all goes pear shaped.

So what does the workshop team do? Well the team consists of

  • one projects foreman
  • 4 mechanics
  • 2 apprentice mechanics
  • 2 drivers, 1 carpenter, 1 builder, 2 gardeners, 2 stores man
  • and then a varying number of casuals which depends on the time of year.

Oh and in charge of this section of RPS you have me!

drumgarage

This team can do just about anything at RPS. As an example of a typical day for the workshop, today we have one boat heading to Nsefu and Tena Tena doing a food run, bank erosion control, replace a radio antenna brought down in a storm, and fixing a slipping roof. The mechanics are replacing the diff and springs in Dobbin our HJ 47 Landcruiser, the welder is finishing the two demo shade covers for vehicles, the carpenter is repairing two doors in Robin’s House, the builder is making molds to cover the boilers, a driver and six casuals are getting gravel for road maintenance, we are doing a supply run of building materials to Kawaza School and I am doing It’s Monday followed by building a new seat for Nkwali braai area (I get to play with my favorite toy, my chainsaw – see the tree shot – it had to go as it was about to fall into the river and take the bank with it – honest), then fixing some electrics around Nkwali and Luangwa House, and finally modifying the steps at the new boat harbour so they are not to slippery in wet weather. This should all happen along with a range of routine tasks if nothing goes wrong…hope I haven’t just jinxed myself.

tree trunksteps to boat

Anyway enough of the boring world behind the scenes I’ve got it out my system and now you can look forward to hearing about the wonderful animals, plants and scenery of the Luangwa until you hear from me again in six months. As a tease to keep your imagination flowing till the next installment here is a quick paragraph on the natural world.

lion on road This week 10 wild dogs were sighted at Lupunga spur (the wild dog research team happened to be out of the valley at the time… they are not too happy); the lions are roaring across the river from Nkwali all night and camping on the dry roads (see photo); the wood owls are calling in camp; a large buffalo herd is also in the Katete area near the new boat harbour; the cuckoos are constantly trying to find someone called Georgie or complaining about being sick; the white storks are moving through in flocks numbering in the hundreds and leopards are serenading each other; plus sunsets from the boat on evening drifts down the river are absolutely amazing with colours bouncing through the spectrum of the rainbow as they pass through layers of storm clouds sweeping the valley.

See even a work shop manager can make this place sound good (as if the place needed help).

Bye for now catch you on your visit out here or in six months when I write again.

Simon

 

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