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Why we hide ourselves

Cleary-Camp — 2000-07-04

We tend to our animals as we do every other morning and find that Istan has survived yesterday’s fall with no obvious damage, other than having learnt a very good lesson as he is now as tame as a lamb. Seeing as we intend to leave Cleary tomorrow, we drive the camels out into the big, open field. Until now we have resisted grazing the animals here as traffic on the road from Beacon can see into the field, and since our Mongolia crossing we have decided it’s better not to show ourselves to everyone. Back then our camp was ambushed by two drunken Mongolians and we barely escaped alive after a terrific fight and the use of our weapons. Obviously we aren’t in Mongolia now, but in Australia. Nevertheless, we still feel the shock deep in our bones and it will be quite some time before we digest it completely, until then Tanja and I prefer not to announce our camping spot to every stranger.

We are sitting in the wet grass and watching our animals eat. It’s been raining for weeks and the dampness creeps into our limbs. After about an hour we observe a truck and a ute (utility – open trayed vehicle) coming along the road. They appear to have spotted us as they slow down and finally draw to a halt. It doesn’t take long before the friendly farmer, Peter Cooke, is trudging through the bush in order to greet us. ‘When I spotted those camels out there in the field, I thought I was seeing a mirage!’ He says with a friendly laugh and offers his hand in greeting. We chat for a while in the pouring rain and Peter offers us a place to camp on his farm. We thank him but decline his kind offer, upon which he asks if he may come by later with his wife. ‘But of course!’ Tanja and I exclaim simultaneously and look forward to the change in our wet bush camp.

Jo returns about midday but we can’t work on the load, as planned, due to the constant rain. We had actually hoped to have everything finished by the time she returns, but the rain just wont let up. We are sitting in my draughty bush office as Peter, his wife Cathy and their baby Sandy find us. Peter greets us with freshly baked white bread and we talk around the smoking camp fire. The extremely friendly farmers offer their help once again. ‘Would you like to take a shower at our place, use the computer or maybe make a phone call?’ Cathy asks. I would love to take a hot shower and am dying to know if any new entries have been made in our guest book, so I accept.

At about 6:30 p.m. I take Jo’s car and drive to the Cooke family. The hot shower is paradise and I am overjoyed to find many new and encouraging entries on our web site. I would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks for the huge participation in our expedition and the many good wishes you have sent. My apologies for not personally responding to a lot of the questions posed, but as I have previously explained, due to financial reasons we can not access our web site over the satellite phone. We only have the satellite phone so that television and radio stations can call us and we can give interviews. However, we usually have access to the internet once every couple of months and reading the various greetings and congratulations really picks us up and encourages us to keep going. When we get such opportunities it’s a day of celebration for Tanja and I. After checking our web site and speaking to my beloved parents on the telephone, I sit with Cathy and Peter at the kitchen table. The power has gone down due to the heavy rain and we enjoy Cathy’s tasty meal by candle light. Unfortunately I must spend this evening without Tanja. She is sitting in our rain soaked camp with Jo. Although Jo had offered to look after the camp, Tanja didn’t want to leave her alone. ‘Maybe I can shower tomorrow. You go and send your parents greetings from me.’ She had said and sent me off with a kiss.

Day: 54

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