Friday, August 29, 2014

The Gokwe Kid - Rogue Rhodie on a Roller: Part 14. Totally lost!

Day 25. Thursday 21st August (continued)

When I was a 'good' Boy Scout, I was taught the fabulous skill of orienteering. The maps Rhodesia had, at a scale of 50,000 – 1, were suburb pieces of work. Once, maybe at the age of 13, I went into the pavilion of the Rhodesian Air force during the Salisbury show.

There they explained how they made the maps. A plane would fly a grid and two cameras, spaced slightly apart took pictures. They had some weird magnifying glasses and after 'relaxing' your brain, all of a sudden, the left and right images joined in 3D! From this and other stuff, they made the maps.

Dotted around, depending what area of the country, the Rhodesians had built height markers. This was just a column of concrete, about adult shoulder height, topped with a metal four sided flag painted black. And somewhere would be painted an exact navigational position and the height above sea level.

The most incredible thing were the contours. Spaced every 50 metres, I had no problem creating the 2D image into an actual interpretation of the landscape I would be in. However, a compass was a very handy thing to have. Sure, we were taught emergency adaptations, but it was rare we took a glass of water, a needle, a magnet and tissue paper with us in case a bad man stole the compass. This method does work, the magnetised needle, floating on the tissue paper, would point North/South, until it sank into the murky deeps of the glass.

With this method, you had to wait until after midday and clock the travels of the sun to work out where was north? It also helped to recall that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, except on the weekend because everyone is too drunk to see either.

During the Bush War, and on patrol, I was always in charge of the maps and directions we took, and convert every night our position into Shackle code (which I later found out had been long ago cracked by the Russians). I found it rather surprising that most of our stick, could simply not compute. I was lucky, it was for me so easy! Once I had north, I could 'see' each and every gomo (hill), in front and behind us. I could orientate us to any possible river for water and get it right to 200 meters.

Once you have worked out your exact position, using the compass, you would have to go, say North- East for 10 clicks. There are no roads, there are no man made landmarks. Nothing but bush.
The trick was to place the map on the ground and place the compass on the magnetic north. Now, one had to decide where we are traipsing. Wander in some direction looking for nasty gooks to kill them.

Once that was decided, a direction was concluded and then you needed some kind of 'something' in the line of sight as far away as possible. It could be a gomo, or if in many a bad case scenario, just some large tree. Whatever, it was imperative to hold what you chose in vision. Upon reaching that point, you simply redid the whole thing again.

Easy. Deep in the bush, not a problem. BUT, equipped with the finest technology known to man, within 80-90 odd clicks south of Prague as the crow flies, in the United Nations sanctioned developed country of the Czech Republic.. – I got lost!

(To be continued)

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