Thought you were done reading me complain about the rainy season? I’ll stop complaining after it stops raining and we can get out of camp!
Two nights ago we were all awoken by our askaris (“night watchman” in kiSwahili) just a few hours after we had called it a night. Many of us in camp had been on edge given the somewhat consistent, dramatic rainstorms we had been having and the threat of things getting damaged by all of the water. If you remember correctly, the last time I wrote, we were worried about the lab tent flooding from poor drainage. We had done our best to fix this problem, and were hoping that we could move onto worrying about something else in the time being. That’s why when our askari woke us up, we knew it was going to be something a little more troubling. Two nights ago when our askari woke us up, it was because the river right next to camp, the “Talek”, was flooding its banks.
This type of water situation is much more dangerous and worrisome. We have at any time 2-3 tents along the riverbank, and depending on how high the river gets from rain upstream, the lab tent (and all of our equipment and data inside) could easily be trashed. Definitely nothing to scoff at!
After pulling ourselves together and out of our sleep induced stupors, we started evacuating the tent most likely to be destroyed: our kitchen tent.
Empty kitchen tent after its evacuation.
At the time, this tent was literally packed to the zipper with fresh food from a recent Nairobi trip, and took almost an hour just to move it all to the lab tent and our dining table.
Kitchen tent’s contents, moved to higher ground and out of harms way.
With the river continuing to rise and the kitchen tent evacuated, we moved our attention to the lab tent. Here, the lab tent was full of months of data: blood samples, photo-ID books, extracted DNA etc. In addition, we have (seemingly endless) essential equipment to make camp run-- all in danger if the river got much higher. And unfortunately for us, it didn’t seem like the river was slowing down anytime soon. So…raise things to higher ground and move all the data and expensive equipment to the cars we did! That way, if the river was still a threat, we could drive to higher ground, out of camp, and into the bush.
Important equipment and data ready to be evacuated from camp if need be.
What? The river is still rising? I guess we better start taking down the (now empty) kitchen tent and hope for the best.
The river had risen to the closest stick in the mud. The other 2 in the background were markers so we could see how fast it was rising.
Luckily the river didn’t get much higher at this point. A few more feet and the river would have literally been up to the lab tent—forcing us to drive things out of camp to higher ground.
In the morning, we all awoke to the wreckage and slowly started putting things back into their respective places. It felt a bit silly putting everything back where it came from knowing that the same thing could happen again the next night…but we’ve got a camp to run out here and we need our stuff in their appropriate places!
Although it has still been raining every day, the river is back down to its “normal” level. We’ve all been sleeping easier in camp, and are doing our best to stay busy and out of trouble by learning new games and watching movies. We’re running out of new ones (already playing various forms of gin, rummy, bridge, hearts), so any recommendations are welcome!