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Time flies

Wundowie — 2000-03-04 - 2000-04-14

We work nearly without a rest every day, and still we are making very slow progress. In one of my last entries I promised myself to write my diary by the camp fire next time, and we are making every effort to keep this promise.

Time and again we believe to have finalized our endless preparations, and time and again something unforeseen happens. We celebrate our departure with dear friends not knowing that we have another two months of hard graft ahead of us. It takes Jo, Tanja and myself over a week of daily stuffing the saddle packs with straw. The two women are sewing on the velcros and making nose leashes. Jo, Tom, Tanja and I conduct many, many tests to make sure the saddles fit perfectly on the camelbacks.

Verne, who is in charge of welding our saddle frames, has – for some obscure reason – problems co-operating with Jo, and is often absent during the important tests. We find a number of minor problems that Verne in turn eliminates.

In this manner, we are passing a considerable amount of time with minute work like extending saddle straps, driving countless rivets into the numerous straps, applying several coats of paint to the frames, cutting leather, attaching belts and sewing them together. More welding work is needed than originally planned. I undertake a number of time-consuming supply trips to the city of Midland which is located approximately 70 kilometres from here, and on top of that I take care of maintaining the important communication with the magazines, newspapers, sponsors, TV and radio stations in Europe and Australia.

I’m also trying to acquaint myself with handling my new satellite navigation equipment, study the extensive map material again, and run the first and fortunately successful test with the computer and the satellite phone. Tom helps me convert the solar system, because, according to his experience, it will take a big 12-volt car battery can cover our energy requirement. Already during the first days of our expedition it turns out how tremendously valuable his potential of experience is for the Red Earth Expedition.

Hardly a day passes without further incidents, and more often than not Tanja and I long to be on a lonesome, peaceful island. One of our camels, Kadesch, panics in a saddle test and once again I escape with a fright. Verne leaves us a few days before we set out for the expedition because he runs out of money, and so we can’t help feeling life is a roller coaster. But we have made a decision to cross Australia with camels, and with every day spent here at Wundowie, with the nicest hosts conceivable, we come closer and closer to reaching our goal.

I have previously reported that the experienced and utterly amiable camel specialists, Jo and Tom Kitchen, entered into our lives like a miracle.

Some time ago, they had happened to hear about the well-fed camels at Wundowie and wanted to find out who the owners were. From that time on, our life here in Australia has changed to the good in a way that is beyond words.

Never before in our entire travel life have we met people who are as extraordinarily helpful as these two. Upon my question why they help us so unconditionally and, what’s more, free of charge, Jo tells me: “I asked God to send me someone I can help, and shortly after that you two stepped into our lives.” Meanwhile we have been together for a quarter of a year and their indescribable helpfulness has rather increased than diminished. After all the problems we have encountered so far with some truly bad human creatures, I feel an urge to thank God, and of course the two of them personally, with all my heart for our being so lucky as to have met Jo and Tom.

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