I wake up early to the sound of monkeys outside my room and I am excited because today is the big day, the day we start drilling! I eat my breakfast and eagerly await my ride. Lucas texts to say they are still setting up the rig, so no need to get to the site early. UGH! I am itching to be part of the activities but instead I enjoy a second cup of tea and chat with the staff at the Sarova Shaba Lodge. Did I know this was the spot of the home of Joy and George Adamson? This is the birthplace of Elsa and her beautiful lion cubs. Memories of watching “Born Free” when I was a littlel girl drift through my brain and I temporarily forget about the drilling. This place is so beautiful. I had no idea how beautiful it would be. Lucas texts again, more delays..so I wait.
Sarova Lodge has a resident naturalist named Chady. He offers to give me a Samburu 101 Powerpoint presentation about the Samburu people, culture and land. I learned how they and the Masai tribe are related, both part of the Maa people. They originally came south from Somalia. Part of the clan stayed in Samburu and some kept migrating south and ended up in the Mara. He explained their culture, rituals and their defined structure of their “manyattas” (the Samburu work for their enclosed communities of huts. Do you know that the earring and long chain in a women’s ear is the equivalent of a wedding ring in western culture? It was all fascinating but now I am really itching to get out into the bush with the team
Finally I am picked up, leave the lodge, drive past the giraffe, go through the gate, over the lava road, past some baboons, jump on the “tar mack road” (as the locals call the highway here), through Archer’s Post, off onto a red clay path for about another 20 minutes (are those camels in the distance? Yes.) until finally I see the rig! WaterLink is here! Lucas welcomes me to the site, shows me the exact spot where drilling will commence. All the while, there is a growing group of children beginning to congregate around me to see who the stranger is. As Lucas briefs me, the crew is collecting big rocks to use underneath 4 big pads to steady and level the rig. This is a very precise operation. The drill must go into the earth at exactly 90 degrees. This takes a while. After much leveling, the rig is finally in place. The drilling apparatus is raised and it hits a tree branch. One of the crew (I’m assuming the one who drew a short straw) is hoisted up on the rig with a huge machete (or “panga” as it is called here) to trim back the imposing branches. With that done, we are finally ready to start!
Drilling is LOUD and DUSTY! There are various people standing around watching the drill “hammer” as it begins to penetrate the earth. Lucas explains that the crew will put the hammer (drill bit) then a succession of 15 rods that are 20 meters on top of each other to get down to 70 meters. Slowly, slowly the drilling starts and slowly, slowly we see the rod disappear into the ground and another screwed on top of it. And so the drilling begins. It seems to me to be tedious work for Charles, the foreman. While the process is so slow and seemingly hypnotic, he concentrates on the earth that the drill is spitting out, watching for signs of moisture. The kids and various elders pass by to check on the progress or stick around to watch. Eventually a soccer game breaks out, young girls scurry by collecting firewood, people come and go and life goes on as the drilling hammers away.
Everyone settles into a bit of a routine as the hammer pounds the rods into the ground, drilling deeper until at 30 feet we hit fir first aqua fir and a sandy, slushy water comes shooting out. Our geological report predicted this but it’s so reassuring to see it happen. Everyone is excited. More drilling will commence until it gets dark but I have to get back to the lodge before then. The crew will sleep and eat out in the bush until the job is done. I say good night to the crew and locals and call it a day. Tomorrow – BIG WATER (I hope)!