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Dark Rain Clouds Disrupt Connection to Outside World

Bad Weather-Camp — 2000-06-09

Raindrops are drumming on our tent canvass and gusty winds make it clatter alarmingly. Tired, bones aching, I slowly open my eyes. Not in the slightest do I feel like leaving my warm and cosy sleeping bag, however, today is Friday and it won’t be long before the first radio station calls up on the satellite telephone. “I must get up”, I tell Tanja who would prefer staying in bed as well.

Before I prepare the interviews we have to mind our camels. We quickly detach the ropes from the trees where we tied them up last light. You can tell how hungry they must be from the way they speed to the nearby lush pasture which seems endless. The wind lashes the cold raindrops into our faces. Hardie is trembling all over. Even his thick winter fur does not seem to protect his sufficiently. There is treeless land as far as the eye can see. Dark and dangerous looking clouds rise in endless altitudes and move quickly overhead to shed their water upon us. The barometer on my clock points to a depression and predicts more bad weather.

After the camels are full up, we hurry back to the camp site and tie each animal to a different tree. While Tanja kindles the fire, I set up another small tent where I’m going to write the update for our web page and give the interviews. It looks like a circus tent just large enough to hold two chairs and some equipment. Actually it reminds me of a mushroom the centre of which is supported by a telescopic tent pole. It has no floor and is open on all sides allowing the strong wind to blow right through it and make my feet go numb with cold. Although I can picture a better place to do all my work, this flimsy roof is better than nothing. It is nearly impossible to give interviews in a strong wind like this, because at the other end of the line you couldn’t understand a word from all the noise. So I’m sitting here now and, though my feet are freezing, at least I’m not getting wet. The battery of my laptop is nice and warm, I can feel their pleasant heat on my thighs. It is really strange how quickly you can cut down your needs and be happy with the little things.

When the Australian radio station RTR calls, the wind is nearing the force of a gale. The connection with the satellite telephone is amazingly bad. Everything the anchorman says arrives with a considerable time delay. „What did you say? Oh, I see! Yes, the communication is bad. There’s a gale blowing out here!“, I scream into the receiver hoping that the man on the other side can understand me. „We … checking … communication … good enough … to go on the air!" I think to be able to understand, additionally impaired by the clattering of the tent canvass. Tense from excitement I listen intently to the receiver. Suddenly I hear music that abruptly changes into a sort of Mickey Mouse howling. Some voices now unite with the music-like noise and I begin to curse about the so-called high technology. „Okay Denis,…. we’ll try it!“ the distorted voice brings me back to reality. Hardly able to understand the questions from the man on the other side, I just talk away hoping to give the right answers. Apparently it works out well, because we talk for as long as 10 minutes .„Okay Denis, speak to you next Friday, same time." the friendly person says goodbye and greatly relieved I put the receiver down. The interviews with Channel 31, some ABS stations and the German radio stations proceed under similar conditions.

At 5 p.m. I turn on the HF radio to get in touch with Jo and Tom as we agreed. I can’t believe when this connection, too, is disrupted after a few minutes. Desperately, I look for the fault. I check the antenna orientation, compare our position with the map again and cannot find any error. „What’s wrong?“, Tanja asks when he hears me cursing. „Oh, the link to Tom was disrupted and I think our Flying Doctor Radio has had it!" I answer angrily. Suddenly I see the light, and I check the 12-Volt battery. The measuring unit displays 8 Volts. Relieved to have found the error I give the radio battery an overnight charge with our big base battery.

Day: 29

 

Sunrise:
07:04

Sunset:
17:16

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