Where do I even begin with this past week? I’ll just quote Tamara – “amazeballs!”
Seriously though, this past week might have been the best week in my life! On our way back from Damaraland and straight out of the field, we stopped in Otjiwarongo at Spar (our grocery store) and guess who I happen to run into? Nick. Haha, so it wasn’t exactly a perchance meeting, he had been planning on visiting for almost two months now, but it was great to see him! He piled in our now very packed car and we headed back to CCF. A huge storm started rolling in – the first real storm since April here! It was dark and windy with lightning strikes all around. Just so powerful and magical.
I had the day off Friday and just got to decompress from our travels and relax for a bit, which was so nice. Then everyone went to a restaurant in town called the Stables to celebrate Bart’s 30th birthday. It was literally an old horse stable that had been converted into a restaurant and the food was awesome (not to mention the seemingly endless supply of drinks), we all had such a great time that we continued to celebrate when we got back by having a little dance party on my porch which turned into wrestling on the concrete (I still have cuts and bruises all over). I beat Tarik, but Bart just sat on me. Not fair.
5h00 Saturday morning hit HARD! Every second month, 8 people (usually interns and volunteers) are sent out to one of our properties called Bellebeno to sit in a hide at a waterhole for 12 hours to conduct game counts. They record what species they see, the sex, age class, body condition, and if the animals use the waterhole or salt licks. We only have 4 interns currently (and one already left on Sunday) soooooo that means I had to go out too. Yay. Of course, I made Nick come suffer with me and he ended up sleeping for half of it. 😛
For 12 whole hours. All day. It was hot. No phone service either. TWELVE HOURS!
Okay, maybe I am complaining a little too much, it was actually really cool to watch such amazing animals all day and I even had my first caracal sighting!! I also saw this ancient, grizzly-looking bull giraffe. He was all scared up and missing half of one of his osicones. He was just awesome! AND I got some pretty good photos too. So, while it was a rough morning and a very long day, it was pretty interesting and at least I had good company (when he was awake).
Sunday through Wednesday I worked my normal hours, but it was so nice to have a visitor to hang out with during my lunch breaks, come out on my camera trapping work at the reserve, and to have come bother me as I gave the Centre Feeding talks. Plus there was something going on every evening whether it be a game of Tac with the gang, braaiing out, or even cooking a nice dinner in Tamara’s and my new potjie (think cast iron Dutch oven over the fire).
Monday night was Halloween so everyone dressed up for dinner and Hanlie put together an AWESOME Halloween-themed spread. I had NO idea what to dress as so while sitting in the office with Ashely at 4pm Halloween day I happen to look over at Bart at his computer desk and though “hmmmm… I could totally dress as him for Halloween, now that would be scary.” So yep. I went dressed as Bart – fake beard and everything. I even won best costume! Woot woot!
Everyone came over to our place before the festivities to get ready. Samara dressed as a tacky mummy with toilet paper falling off all over the place (my house looks like it got TPed). Tamara went as a witch. Mel and Tarik had awesome face paint done by Nick and went as sugar skulls typical Day of the Dead style costumes… I know there is a fancy phrase for it, but I cannot remember it right now. Maybe when our internet comes back, I’ll look it up online.
I took off work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Holy cow! Three whole days off in a row! And it was sooooo nice, we did absolutely NOTHING on Thursday other than relax and watch movies all night. I cannot even remember the last time I spent a day watching movies and doing nothing. It was very much necessary. That night Nick hosted his soon-to-be traditional CCF Pubquiz night. Everyone grouped into teams of 3 and we struggled to answer impossible questions such as “what is the smallest species of bird found in Africa?” Tarik, Mel, and my team somehow pulled off a win! (That’s 2 wins for me out of 2 pubquizes – I am on a roll) 😉
Saturday Sam, Mel, and Tarik were all also off so we drove out to the big field and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch atop of Carl’s Hide overlooking the reserve field. We got back just in time for torrential downpours. I thought we were going to need a boat to get to Tarik and Mel’s, but luckily the rains let up and everyone gathered together for a big braai cookout to celebrate Katrin’s birthday. Katrin laid mattresses all over her living room floor, we barrowed the projector, and had a big movie night watching V for Vendetta. Almost all of the CCF staff was in attendance – it was great!
Now back to real life and normal work again. Boo. But it truly was such a fantastic week!