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Deadly Current

Wundowie — 2000-02-22

I never would have thought that we would find a place with our camels as perfect as this. Base Camp 3 as we call this place here offers everything we need. Our camels enjoy themselves in a really large enclosure. They look splendid and appear to feel better from day to day. Ever since we’ve been here they are no longer suffering from the horrible mosquitoes that used to draw, as already mentioned, up to 100 millilitres of blood per camel every day. The quality of hay is better, too, and besides, it is less expensive. We can constantly watch them from our caravan and study their behaviour. They seem to have finally clarified their hierarchy.

On many a hot day I sit behind our caravan under the overhanging fig tree and enjoy its shade. With temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees, the summer apparently wants to demonstrate once more that we are here in Australia. I bring back to mind our past few months here and still find it hard to believe what we had to, or should I say were allowed to, experience. I’m worried about the design of our saddles. Time flies, and we must urgently start with the saddle design or we’ll be late once again. In the middle of my thoughts I perceive the familiar sound of dripping water. I turn around and notice that the hose coupling to our caravan is leaky. I put aside the idea with the saddles in order to put an end to the waste of water. The water pressure being quite high, I have to mount as many as three hose clamps to get the dripping under control.

I’m in the process of tightening the third hose clamp, holding on to the caravan frame with my left hand at the same time, when all of a sudden a violent electric shock goes through me. At first I kneel on the floor dumbfounded and gasp for air. “My God, the body of our caravan is under current!” After recuperating from the powerful blow, I get out a little measuring instrument that is an important part of our equipment and allows us to measure current problems with the cameras or the solar energy in the bush, and test the caravan.I cannot believe the result of the measuring, everywhere, at all ends and corners, there is a full 230 Volts flowing from the caravan body to the ground. I dread thinking what would have happened if one of the kids had touched the caravan on bare feet. Already a few days ago, Tanja got a shock when she opened the door, but we thought it was an electrostatic charge.

I, too, was extremely lucky considering I kneeled on the damp floor and was apparently hit by the full 230 Volts. Without any further consideration I pull the power cable from the main socket and call an electrician. It turns out that we were lucky indeed. The feeder cable to the caravan is defective, and the earthing of the caravan was not connected. Furthermore, the entire cabling system of the farmhouse is improperly installed. The old fuse system has never worked. “You can thank your lucky stars that your caravan did not burn down on you. These things catch on fire so quickly that they burn down to the ground in a matter of minutes. There have been cases where the people inside didn’t have a chance to get out on time and were cremated.”, says the electrician, knitting his brows. Tanja and I are relieved. Everything we own is inside this caravan. If it had really caught on fire, we would have never gone on this expedition.

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