Project Manager David and Medic Amy are greeted by Country Director Mark
The rest of the staff members have now arrived and it's been all go ever since. After the advanced and permanent staff excitedly pounced on the tired travellers as they got off the bus, they were shown around their new home (complete with welcome banner and flowers) and were plunged straight into training. There will be a group photo as soon as we can get everyone in the same place at the same time! But it wasn't all work work work as we also got to witness Puja, a Hindu ritual whereby all our work tools at fieldbase were blessed to keep them functional and safe. Our computers, phones and even the cars were decorated in a colourful ceremony that we were all lucky enough to witness and gave the new team members an extra special cultural start to their expedition.
Mark blesses the office and above, the cars and bikes all dressed up for the ritual
In another break from the intensive training we took a trip into central Mysore to try and catch the elephant parade as part of the Dasara festival. However, thousands of Indian tourists and locals had the same idea and we ended up in the middle of what can only be described as Mysore craziness. Some of the group did manage to jump above the heads of the ever increasing crowd and see part of the parade but unfortunately, most of us just saw the heads...
Trek training was also on our schedule this week. We split into two groups and trudged happily off from field base with all our equipment on our backs. Luckily the weather was perfect for trekking; cloudy, dry and breezy which we were grateful for as although we had many interesting sweat patches, we were all aware they could have been worse. We reached our campsite, on the other side of Chamundi Hill for lunchtime. Medical training and general camp craft were next on the agenda and after our superbly cooked evening meal of noodles, we sat around the campfire swapping trek stories and finished the day with a quiz. In the morning we still had to conquer the hill so with weary legs we decamped and set off up the steps for another few hours of trekking before returning to fieldbase.