Setting up camp

Fulmer diary

Setting up camp

Setting up camp

I returned for the third time a few months later, in May, after the organizing work at home was over, with four Hungarian colleagues. This time it was to start the work. In the towns we bought the most necessary equipment we still needed, and then we headed for the mountains. In choosing the location of the camp, we took into account several criteria of roughly equal importance. For example, to be as high and inland in the mountains as possible, as far away from civilization as possible. By this we mean the physical life of the communities, because we needed mobile phones and internet to keep in touch with the world. On the mountain, if not the fastest, then 3G is available, and we can check the health of the camp through cameras even now when no one is there.

The work was organized from the nearby village, and we went up from there to work every day. Another aspect was to be able to transport the equipment there by car. We had to use paved mountain roads and, although the locals said the countryside was dry, it actually rained every day, so we sometimes had to cross seas of mud to get to the site. With local help, there were sometimes nine of us in the jeep. We were discouraged from setting up on the hilltop because lightning regularly strikes there. The decision to enjoy the special beauty of nature while working also played a role.

In the remote countryside, far from cities and tourism, the biggest difficulty was the lack of food hygiene. Meat is sold in the local market in containers heated up in the sun without refrigerators, and the stench immediately turns people away. There are plenty of restaurants, however, any time we ate in one of them, everything was gone from me in a few hours at a rapid pace. The locals are obviously used to the conditions, those who can't stand the bacteria must have died out a thousand years ago. No one had ever heard of chlorine tablets. I had to switch to biscuits and Coke in the mornings, and later to Fanta, because at least they stayed in my stomach. For lunch I had a bag of soup made from hot water poured over dry pasta, and late at night the food I ate in the restaurant, unexpectedly, but always left around 1am.

The hillside where we set up camp is sparsely covered with trees, perhaps because it has always been used as pasture by the locals. Together with four of my local colleagues and the local forces, we set up a total of four yurts, two for sleeping, one for common rooms, and the fourth for handling honey. Later we had to put up a small tent for the machines. As soon as the camp was set up, the necessary hygiene and comfort was achieved, with showers and English toilets. We were equipped for eight people in comfort. We could get everything we needed for meals from the capital. Food and ingredients are delivered weekly in insulated boxes, chilled with ice and then stored in refrigerators. We can cook with bottled gas, and you can also grill with wood.

Water is supplied by hydrophoresis from a plastic tank buried in the ground. Refilling is done from a mountain stream with crystal clear water. Electricity is developed with solar panels, which provide the basic supply. If for some reason the power generation drops, we switch on an on-site generator. These devices were purchased locally, at no small cost. The hand tools we used to put the camp together were ordered in advance because the shops don't have quality tools. The locals buy cheap, low-grade Chinese tools, the professional Japanese tools arrived just in time.

The camp could have been set up in 2 weeks, but because of the difficulties we finished in about a month. At the end of June we organized a handover ceremony to which we invited local people. They were so curious about us that we had guests from ministries. We made friends and even invited one of them, an economist by training, to work for us. Tariel is a bright young man with a good attitude, and he was already involved in honey. He has worked with local producers. He worked with us to build the camp, which we got to know even better during its operation. We enrolled him in a Hungarian language school, which he does at home, online, we agreed on his salary, and our formal cooperation began.

About the author

As for myself, my early childhood experience has left a fundamental mark on my thinking. In the early 60s, farming was what the land gave you. In the village where I grew up in Somogy, people sprayed exclusively against the potato beetle. I really came from the Middle Ages. My ancestors 500 years ago treated the land just as my grandparents did.