So every month we try and post news. Generally this is pictures of scenery, birds animals and sometimes guests (and sometimes ourselves pretending to be guests). But anyone that follows our facebook page will know that we also are not shy to post what goes on behind the scenes. People are generally interested in how it all works. For the last month or so we have been embarking on a fairly major project to upgrade the staff village. Kaingu now employs 25 contract staff for ten months of the year. Last year we added 3 new houses, but more facilities are required.
We decided that another new double (flush) toilet was needed (ladies and gents) and a double shower block (four showers) was needed to supplement the existing ones. A staff kitchen (monkey-proofed) was also added to the list, as were re-thatching of Nkutas (outside shelters) and some new ones. So Mr Gibson (thatching grass) and Royd (contract builder) were engaged.
Of course part and parcel of bush life is breakdowns and repairing them! Out old Mitsubishi Canter is getting a bit tired, but it struggled vainly on moving thousands of bundles of grass, dozens of poles and all the rest...
Nkutas are found in all the village homes. They are areas where people can cook, sit around the fire and shelter from the rains and the sun. We have small ones and a massive communal one where all staff not on duty gather to eat and chat (and yes, sometimes party!). This small one below is for JohnD and Jenny:
The large one for the staff is matched by another one behind the kitchen. Eating and sitting area for the guides who cannot bear to be away from the wifi signal!
The staff kitchen is a major step forward. Up until now the cooking is done by the staff chef (Vincent) in the large Nkuta on an open fire. The staff kitchen below is having a gas range, shelves, cupboards and sinks for washing up. Our staff is what makes Kaingu, well, Kaingu. We firmly believe in trying to make their lives here as good as we really can. Wood smoke from open fires in Africa is a huge problem for people's health.
Royd was also asked to add to the contract a small outside seat and flower pot for each house. Small details, but at least the houses can be a bit more like home for everyone. Of course some of the "rugged" guys like Bo haven't actually planted anything. The ladies seem to be in the lead on this one. The house below is Chef Lizzie's house:
The thatching looks a bit like a bad hair moment, but after the first rains it all flattens down. Pictured below is the new shower block which is now finished except the tiles and plumbing. Mike is on that job as I type:
Now constructing a proper kitchen gave us another idea. In fact the idea came from Willard (camp hand, not the guide!) who jokingly told me that now there is no smoke inside the large Nkuta we could put a TV there. We started to think about it. Why not? So.... 4 solar panels, an inverter, 2 deep cycle batteries, a charge regulator, a dish and decoder and a HELL of a lot of alignment and we now have DSTV with dozens of channels as well as a charging station so everyone can charge mobile phones while watching shocking Nigerian movies (that seem to always be one of only two themes - infidelity or witchcraft. Some of the better ones combine both topics). To be fair I did find guides Kaley and Israel watching a Nat Geo programme about the Amazon.
And then we finish with an improvement that benefits everyone - a new solar pump. After our second submersible solar pump packed in (due to water ingress) we decided to install a surface pump where all moving parts are on the river bank and not submerged. This meant a few things - firstly a chicken house for the pump to go in and secondly a large extension to the panel array. So far so good. The pump is quiet and vibration free. Of course nothing is easy. People will sell you a pump, but to get fittings to plumb it in??? Our good friend Congo came to the rescue and fabricated some special flanges for us. Okay, I have to stop now because I can literally talk about pumps the whole day! We are really pleased with the staff village improvements and we are proud of the fact that we are really trying to make everyone feel that Kaingu is a good place to work.
Look at it! All shiny and sleek. Stainless steel and other bits. Sexy. I can sit for hours and just listen to the gentle whirring noises. Art in motion.