I am now at the nature college, there are two campuses and I’m at the smaller one. It is two buildings located in the middle of the aardvark nature reserve. There are 7 other students, all from South Africa and everyone has decided to educate the Canadian girl. We made ‘mealie pap’, an African maize dish, and I had to eat it in the traditional way with my hands. We’ve had a few braais and everyone is attempting to teach me to speak afrikaans. I know how to say ‘thank you’, ‘hangover’, ‘good meal’, ‘slippers’, ‘surfer’, some swear words and a few plants. All of the important things. We also had a dung spitting competition. Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like.
We have lecture in the mornings, then a break until 3 when we do our practical field work. So far we’ve learned about ecology, astronomy, botany, insects, tracking, geology, climate and weather annd a bit of marine biology (which I ended up teaching the lecture on because our instructor has “no desire to ever go to the beach”). So basically I can find my way around South Africa, tell you uses for most plants, and track animals….but we haven’t done mammals or birds yet so although I can tell who the tracks belong to I couldn’t tell you what the animal looks like…
On my run the other day i came across a herd of ostriches. They were blocking my path, so I basically just had to wait for them to move. Turns out its a good idea to learn about local wildlife before going out trail running in the middle of a nature reserve…but i just pretended they were deer and it all worked out. We also saw baboons on the drive into town! It’s funny being around people who grew up here because when I get sooo excited about the ostrich outside or the baboon on the road they all laugh at me. I now understand how people feel about deer in Canada.
Basically what ill end up with after my assessment is my nqf2, also called fgasa 1. It gives me the ability to legally work anywhere in South Africa as a field guide. So taking people on walking or driving tours in national parks or private game reserves and telling them about south African plants, wildlife, history etc…
I’m heading back to the garden route game lodge after my assessment and will volunteer there and, as long as I pass everything, start giving driving tours to guests in the “bakkies”, aka trucks. Oh, and I can drive! Apparently epilepsy driving laws are a bit different here. Very excited for more hands on work with animals back at the game lodge, but really having a great time and enjoying the company of 8 wonderful people for these couple of weeks at the college.
Missing everyone, but having an amazing time. Three more weeks in this wonderful place.
The nature college, surrounded by the succulent karoo of the aardvark reserve
Learning about plants with Jaques and John. (rose, jaques, Wendy, richard, juanita and john). I really need to lay off the plants and get some better pictures of my class…
A beautiful sunset as seen from the kitchen stoop
Out for some field work in the back of the bakkie. Me and landi in front, lorna, then Paul and Richard in the back
A quartz field, one of the most delicate ecosystems. Some plants only grow here because of the temperature in the white rocks. There is one species of plant that is only found in this specific quartz field.
I’m really liking this red lichen
Ostriches are really intimidating, okay?
The Acacia karoo, my favourite thorny tree. Also called the sweet thorn. You can make excellent rope from its bark.
Crickey, its an aardvark track!
This one time, I put hartebeest poo in my mouth and spat it out. I spat it farther than anyone else. Dung spitting champion right here. I think I’m done with school, I’ve found my calling.
Babys bottom, a quartz field specific plant.
This is how cold it is in the morning. In class, with tea and a hot water bottle and a blanket. Buildings are not heated here…to be fair it isn’t this cold all the time. There was a cold front for a day or two.
Babooooonnn!!!!! It’s so cute, there was a baby too.
But really, if you ever feel like your degree is useless let’s.talk about how I am a South African field guide living in Canada…
I can’t rotate photos on my tablet. Hence all the sideways pictures. Sorry necks.