Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

I “beeped” out the expletives

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This morning I was woken up by a loud, beeping alarm and KP coarsely saying “no, I don’t need you!”
Unless signalling a fire, some carbon monoxide overload, burglary, an air raid, a morning when the sun isn’t going to rise (it does happen here), or worse, we’ve run out of tea, there really shouldn’t be any temper-outbursts, grumpy growling, or alarming beeping. KP says go back to sleep (not possible), and that he’ll “try something”. He seems to know why there is a beeping, but expects me to be ignorant. It won’t stop beeping and there will be no rest.

I would think that if everything was off, nothing would beep – the essence of camping in the wild – but in KP’s magical man cave of a camper, even when there is nothing turned on, something must beep to inform us of a possible problem. Maybe he secretly stowed a microwave and didn’t tell me. Maybe swallows are nesting in the air vents. Maybe Larvelle Jones from police academy has stealthily hitched a ride in the truck rungs, and is loosening up his vocals like an annoying Roland keyboard. This truck has as many bells and whistles on it that the weight limit will allow. KP is a dithering nerd – something I’m normally a fan of, but not at 4.45am. I found out that KP is a fan of The Big Bang Theory (the TV show, not just the world’s birth) and with an interest in physics, he can decipher where an electrical fault is coming from in the same way that I know what the fault in your golf swing is, simple by looking at a ball in flight. Neither of which is rocket science. My approach – the fewer electrical systems the better – but KP loves a little engineering, even when half asleep it would seem.

For most of us, the solution so early, would be to hit the off switch, grab an extra blanket or sweater, and go back to a dream ASAP. The Engineers solution however, and in KP’s case, is to start connecting cables, testing switches, make the beeps play a tune, locate the second back up battery and to stop the noise altogether by supplying enough power to everything that is turned on to see if he can fix it. All while I’m sure he is still in R.E.M.

As much as I appreciate the nuisances and luxuries of technology, lack of electrical power is often a blessing. As much I discussed the problem this morning with KP (at a later social hour), I can’t quite get my head around why we must have beeping. It turns out that the back up battery was making such an racket because it didn’t have enough power to supply the CO2 alarm (there wasn’t a CO2 problem). I then found out two things, 1) the battery has lasted about three weeks with no recharge (time enough to test the battery before possibly dying), and more importantly 2) there is no off switch. I am perplexed as to why you would install any electrical system without it having an off switch. Perhaps installing a switch would send the truck over weight, therefore unable to have that particular whistle. As ignorant as I should have been when the beeping began, I just nodded when KP informed me that the power had died. The dead battery made sense….the beeping did not. I was simply grateful and honestly impressed (albeit grumpy from lack of sleep) that KP was able to fulfil his early morning duties: eventually stop the beeping, get dressed while half asleep, seemingly figure out the problem without any morning coffee, and hatch a plan to soon rectify things.
KP is a morning person. He sensibly won’t make decision after 3pm, and after 5pm you may as well put the floundering sparky out of his misery. At that point, I need to take over – he will gladly do whatever I choose, but not decide himself. It’s a lifestyle choice that I do well to remember, and one which keeps us both on the sane path to social sanity, and friendship.

We do have our moments of frustration, and we have found out that we sometimes deal with them differently. We can currently laugh about our differences and we both appreciate regularly, a different idea, as well as being reminded to do something when we clearly haven’t forgotten. However, following the infuriating alarms, I must patiently console myself with the assumption that if there was no beeping for the numerous, engineered and nerdy systems that KP likes to surround us with (with no off switches), death could have been a result. KP saved our lives.
I learn things everyday from my retired friend and I’m sure amongst the challenges and the frustrations we both sometimes feel, he even learns a few things from me every now and again. I’ll wear my ear plugs more often, and try and go back to sleep.

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Where am I now?

After extensive work and tours through Southern Africa, I’m now mainly in Malawi.
Go Untamed Safaris is now up and running.
Between work days and in the rainy season (December to April); I am planning some expeditions and seek out some experienced individuals keen to be involved.
I will be in the U.K. January to March 2018.

For safari and expedition details:

email: info@gountamed.com

http://www.gountamed.com

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