Well hello there.
I have been very neglecting of you lately, and for that I apologise. I have been very busy, and just honestly living life and enjoying every moment of it. Also, when I do have time for blogs, I have been writing some blogs for Panthera’s Field Notes blog (which I always re-post on here for you too).
How is it nearing the end of August? It might as well be 2019 already for how fast this year has blown by! So where all have I been this year? Let’s see (and feel free to Google, because I am just going to drop reserve names here)….. Pilanesberg, Lajuma, Lapalala, Mapeu, Mapungubwe, America (Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, and New York City) to finally sort my visa, Lapalala again, Cape Town, Madikwe and still left for the year Makalali, Timbavati ANNNNNNDDDD MAURITUIS! Basically, I have been doing a little bit of travelling.
I have been trying to keep my Instagram (@jotaylorafrica) and Instagram story pretty updated, so hopefully you have been following along with the photos and the videos on there. If you are not an IG person, no worries, I still post often-ish on Twitter (@tigerbushcat) and my new Facebook page (facebook.com/jotaylorafrica). Because of those platforms, I am not going to make this a hugely picture heavy post, and also because I have horrible connection at my recent site.
Let’s do an overview of the past six months. Highlight reel?
– First survey of the year ended (I actually blogged about this – go me!)
– During that first survey, I met the most incredible man! I finally found someone who works in the bush and shares my passion and love for nature and wildlife. His name is Byron and he is a field guide. Our schedules have us both kind of all over the place, but we manage to make it work out to visit each other as much as possible, and a cool perk is we both get to see and experience incredible reserves together! We’ve now been dating five months and things are going great! He challenges and inspires me to learn new things (I have even gotten into birding!) and he has become the adventure buddy I never realised that I was missing in my life. We have some really cool things planned and I am greatly looking forward to where all these adventures will take us.
We are heading off in two weeks with his family for a week-long holiday in Mauritius!! I have not been on a proper holiday (especially not to the beach) in probably five or six years and am beyond excited for it! Plus, just spending time with Byron and his family is always wonderful, they are all so amazingly sweet, and have adopted me into their family! I cannot wait to unwind a bit, shut off from work for a week and just take in the island life.
– I spent nearly two months in the states (it was only supposed to be two weeks) to finally sort my visa out and I am excited to announce that I now have my five-year Critical Skills visa!!! It has been a painful year-long process, but it has finally come through. Now the next step? Permanent residency! (Here we go again). Since I now have my long term visa, my trips back to the states will be way more infrequent (sorry, guys). So it was really nice to be able to spend some time there and see so many of you! Diesel has my heart, always, and spending anytime with him is simply the best. My baby nephew, Atlas, is getting cuter by the day and it was cool to be able to spend quality time and take in the baby phase which passes so quickly. I made a trip up to Pittsburgh to spend not enough time with Becca and Andy, stop by the zoo to see all my furbabies and grand-furbabies and just hangout with my Pittsburgh crew (Pgh will always be my home in the states). I got to enjoy family time and the small town charm of Poolesville and then the chaos and big city lights of New York city when I went to go visit Panthera’s head office. It was a packed full, but great trip. My next American trip probably won’t be for another two years or so.
– I have been running all over Limpopo and North West provinces setting up camera trap surveys. Although it is a ton of driving, I cannot express how lucky I am to be able to see some of these incredible places and to meet the amazing ecology teams at these reserves! I love that I have friends all over here.
– I spent a week down in Cape Town meeting with my Panthera and UCT teams and have gotten things more sorted and figured out for my Masters (yay)! I have made the decision to officially relocate to Johannesburg, because let’s face it, it just makes sense. I am on this side wayyyy more than I am in the Cape, and I plan to keep it this way. I will pop back over a bit more next year during write up on my dissertation, but home is this side. Ryno has even flown across the country and now resides in Joburg!! He stays with Lisa and Gareth, whom I cannot thank enough for taking in me and my baby boy. I do not know what I would do without those two. I have good people. It is still in the works, but I am hoping to be able to bring Ryno to my latest site for some time too.
– Hmmm… what else? From now until December, I will continue running around setting up and running the camera trap surveys. Oh oh! I have registered for FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) for my level one certification. This is more or less just so I can learn even more about the bush and ecosystems in which I am surrounded and also to have a certification which will hopefully help reserves feel a bit more comfortable with having some foreign female driving around. I am loving the material so far and have signed up for a tracks and signs course (spoor and animal signs) in October! I will be sure to let you know how that goes. December, after all the surveys are finished for the year, Byron and I are planning on a road trip down through KZN and possibly all the way to Cape Town and back camping and exploring along the way! And then boom, just like that it’ll be 2019 and I will be gearing up to start all these surveys all over again.
Even without a million photos, this has become a novel – are you still there? Sorry about that. I just wanted to give you a bit of an update on everything that is and has happened! I will truly truly try to get better at keeping up-to-date on here with more blogs. (I know I always say this).
So, until next time – chow!