Well here we are suddenly one week into the trip, Sunday morning and there is almost time to breathe!
The first extended workshop is over with only a few visits from Murphy, which is par for the ( pardon the pun) course. This time we had the odd collapsing table, a spontaneous projector shutdown (overheating? I thought we'd blown the bulb) and we quickly got used to finding ourselves locked out of our room after lunch (conscientious cleaning staff). Apparently matters of state ( those 4pm Friday ones) left us waiting till the 16th hour to find out who would present the certificates of graduation - never mind, all done!
It was then I was told that the next courses on quarantine inspection, which will be Monday/ Tuesday and Thursday/Friday this week, will probably have 30, not 20 people attending, and no, no lists of names yet. We had allowed for 20 in each course as advised, been prudent and organized for ten extra sets of printing and certificates - as we now face 60 I guess we go back to the printer. Not the highlight of my weekend, eh?
Speaking of printers, he swears blind that next week's materials were delivered to the Ministry office on Friday, though no one has spotted them yet. Apparently they were handed to a lady named 'Lady', who (I think) is the tealady- this at least is reassuring, as the tealady generally knows everything.
Yesterday (Saturday) we had made arrangements to hire a car to set ourselves up for next week's work and generally get around without having to master the minibuses which are the local public transport system. Therefore as happens when travelling with a horticulturalist, a tour of the local botanical gardens and herbarium was in order. These have as their museum a building established by Rhodes as part of the Cape to Cairo plan; sadly the whole thing is neglected, with few plants labelled and little maintenance in general. At one point the 'trail' supposedly led across a very questionable footbridge (see photo album) - we chose to go bushbashing to find a better route and found one of Rhodes' original steam engines (or so I say) and an old bone graveyard with elephant skulls etc. A not so disappointing visit after all!
Next to the city's premier nursery and plant / cuttings importer - a very professional setup with a cafe that makes real (read 'fancy') coffees and other very nice provisions. Lunch!
By this stage it's achieved a dry heat around 35C, not uncomfortable but more than warranting a hat and sunscreen. The latter has proven elusive to find, but I have acquired a superb 'Ascot hat' which only just falls short of a sombrero in it's dimensions, but is happily made of light material with a wired rim, so if folds away without any fuss (unkink the wire upon retrieval).
We had fun and games getting our course materials, given we need plants, fruit, veges, seed etc. The list was compounded by the news upon arrival that though the Ministry has approved the issue of basic inspection equipment to inspectors, this hasn't actually happened yet..... Asking a few questions, I gather they tried to put all the equipment we recommended last time on a single tender. All well and good, but they have combined basic stuff like knives and magnifying lenses with lab gear and entomological dissection kits (and who knows, maybe a mass spectrometer?) no wonder not one supplier can provide the lot! Have suggested they put each item to separate tender and meanwhile it's time to improvise, given the course practicals. We found Bruce an Inspector's knife that Mick Dundee would be happy to own, and the trainees will have to cope with cutlery. The magnifying lenses proved extremely difficult, with our final triumph the purchase of several pairs of the strongest reading glasses we could get, and a set of precision screwdrivers. One pair of glasses = two magnifying lenses... Where there's a will there's a way.