Sunday, 24 July 2011

The case of the wrong GPS co-ordinates

So I was in charge of entering the GPS coordinates for our 4x4 trip in the north of Namibia.  And I did a bloody fine job, I may say.  Until THAT DAY.
We were travelling the Gemstone Route skirting the western side of the Brandberg.  This was a trip especially for Hennie, who loves rocks.  It was clear from the very faint tracks that not many other people loves rocks that much, and we almost missed the turn-off.  The road got worse and worse.  We were aiming for the first co-ordinate.  The Fortuner was travelling in front, finding the way for everyone else. Adri does not have a GPS, and Carl-Hein complained that the routes are not on their GPS. Every now and again Hennie stopped to get out and look at rocks, and started filling the car with various samples.

In my defence I can say that we do not travel much with the GPS off-road.  Thus I missed the warning signs.  The GPS was showing a very winding route, and the next moment there was this line perpendicular to the route, straight as an arrow, to the GPS point.  If I knew more I would have been suspicious.  As luck would have it, right at the point where this straight line departs our route, you could almost imagine there has been a road, some 500 years ago.  Soon the road disappeared, but we found some other faint traces of a road, so we back-tracked a bit and followed the new road.  We were no longer on the GPS indicated line, but we have been off the GPS tracks numerous times before on the trip, so no alarm bells yet.  Soon that road also ran out, and it was clear from the rocks in front of us that no vehicle can go beyond that point.

Hennie and Anita decided that since we have come this far, they are going to walk the approximately 1 km to the GPS indicated point.  The rest of us stayed behind at the cars to talk crap and do nothing.  In the end we got bored of that as well, and the remainder of us went back to our respective cars to do  nothing there.  After what felt like an hour or even hour and a half, we saw Hennie and Anita approaching.  At the same time Mari-Louise came to me to ask if I was sure I entered the GPS point correctly, as according to their GPS the point lies on the road we were travelling, before we turned off.  Seems she was right.  I put the NS coordinate of the first marker, and the EW point of the second marker in.  Hennie and Anita was walking to nowhere.

In the mean time Carl-Hein decided it was an opportune moment to go off on morning ablutions, with his shovel, toilet paper and lighter.   Of course he did not tell anyone what he was going to do.   Just when Hennie and Anita rejoined us, we heard Carl-Heins screams in the distance.  We could see him, but we could not hear what he was shouting.  He was clearly in distress from the tone of his voice.  He was jumping up and down on his one foot  and waving his shirt in the air.  I just knew there was trouble.  Do not know who first interpreted it, but the message came through that he has been bitten by a snake. HKGK.  In my mind Carl-Hein was a goner.  It would take us probably at least 4 hours to get to any civilisation or cell phone reception.  We did not have anti-venom with us.

Mari-Louise set off at a pace, and halfway through the distance to Carl-Hein she could finally hear what he was shouting.  BRING DIE BRANDBLUSSER.  Not sure why she ran back, fetched the extinguisher, and sprinted back.  The next moment she trips on a rock and falls down face first.  Hennie did not think she was going to get back up, but the next moment she is up and running again.  The rest are following a distant second, and I was still trying to get our extinguisher out of our car (Yes, our car would have burned down by the time I finally wrestled the damn thing out of its holding place).  When Carl-Hein wanted to burn his toilet paper the felt caught fire.  He could not believe how fast it happened, and he was worried about the cars, as the fire would be in our escape path.  The flames were all around him, and he could do nothing.

Luckily they could stop the fire.  Carl-Hein hurt his big toe (he has already hurt some other toes previously in the trip).  Poor Mari-Louise was bruised and grazed from her shins to her chin from her fall.  She looked terrible.

And everyone blamed me...

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