Helicopter chaos

Annnd I am already failing at posting weekly. But to be fair, things are really super exciting enough right now to share much with you – especially compared to life in the bush.

My days are mostly filled with sitting at my computer in the lab writing up my dissertation, showing it to my supervisors, dying a little bit on the inside, re-running analysis I did months ago and then writing some more. Luckily, Ryno gets to come to the office with me a few times a week (he is totally my dissertation-writing emotional support dog).

Oh, something exciting did happen whilst in the office! I was in on Saturday (yes, legit, this has become life consuming, but also it is not like I have ever had normal weekends anyways)… anyways, I was in the office on Saturday and I just kept hearing helicopters. Hmm, that is odd. Maybe there was a car accident nearby and the news was reporting the traffic? Okay, no. There were multiple helicopters flying so close that my desk was vibrating. I went to the window to check it out and the helicopters had big baskets of water – there must be a fire somewhere! But wait… they are REALLY close! Is the fire on campus?? So I rushed out to go see what is going on and worry about if I needed to move my Land Cruiser or not. The fire was not on campus, but there is a big dam on campus and the helicopters were taking turns in procession dipping their baskets into the water and whisking it off just a short distance away to drop on the mountain.

Well, that was pretty cool. I must admit, I probably spent a good 45 minutes watching these helicopters fly in and out collecting water. Hey, it is definitely not something you get to see every day.

On a social side of things, Cape Town does have a lot to offer – it really is a beautiful city and always has something going on. On Sunday a bunch of us went to the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset concert series to see a band called Good Luck. Kirstenbosch has the most picturesque setting for a concert with Table Mountain lining the background. Seriously, it is stunning! And somehow Good Luck is always playing on my yearly pilgrimage to Cape Town so seeing them has become sort of a tradition now.

But yeah, that is pretty much where I am at and have been at the past two weeks. I have not even had time to go on a proper mountain hike yet, but I do promise that will happen soon – it must!

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Rolling, rolling, rolling…

Good morning! Well it probably will not be morning by the time this actually goes live on the blog. You see, there is barely any network connection here, so I am not even going to attempt to HotSpot my phone to get this online right now. Ryno and I are currently at a campsite in the Karoo about 10-15 km away from Beaufort West called X-Ventures. It is a cute little place and Ryno absolutely adores it because there are tons of dogs running around to play with and loads of waterholes and pools he can swim in. It really is the perfect stop for us since he really has the chance to stretch his legs. Although he has completely abandoned me to go play with all the other dogs. Hehe, I guess 10 hours of my singing concerts was too much for him.

There are, however, the biggest abundance of mozzies here! Just this morning, I swear I have klaaped at least 30 while they were biting me. Mozzies absolutely LOVE me for some reason. Trust me, I have looked up every reason I can online and I gots zero clues why they like me so much. When I was in Malawi just a week plus ago I had over 79 bites at one time (Andrew and I counted)! Do mosquitos love you as well or are you one of the lucky ones that they seem to leave alone?

The Karoo is super dry, since the campsite has both green grass and water, there are wild tortoises everywhere here!!

Yesterday, we did about 10 hours of driving and about 900km. It looks like Dirkie (my Toyota Land Cruiser) is getting about 13.8 liters per 100 km. Which is something I need to know because I am hoping for some big overland trip this year and need to plan out my fuel stops and how much extra fuel I need to carry in Jerry cans.

The Karoo is endless and just so vast in every way – I LOVE it. It is such an incredibly harsh landscape. There are hardly any trees or bushes, just short dry grasses and shrubs. And it seems as if they are always in endless drought. It is amazing to me that anything can survive here. My friend, Michelle, who has done extensive camera trapping and small mammal trapping across the Karoo for her PhD (follower in on Instagram – @karoolady17) told that back in the Voortrekker days, there used to be so many springbok that when they migrated (which apparently used to be one of the biggest migrations before men put up fences, farms and killed out most of the springbok), it would take an entire day for the herd to pass by a single point. I need to look up more on where it ranks as far as land mammal migrations go, but from the tip of my memory (and this could be completely wrong), I want to say that it rivaled the Great Migration of bison in Kenya/Tanzania.

I have seen some cool birdlife during my drive so far along with farmed herds of springbok, sheep and even a big herd of Watusi cattle!! Ryno and I got a little lost and GPS had us turn a bit early trying to find the campsite yesterday evening, but the sweetest couple ever stopped to help us out and invited us to stop by the nearby airport this morning to say hi and learn about what they do there. I really think we should take them up on that!

If you have been following my Instagram, I have been trying to post more in my stories about the trip, so I hope that you have been enjoying it so far. There is a lot of videos of me just rambling and then photos of Ryno sleeping through the whole things and that is about it.

Much needed beer poolside at camp

Well, I think we are going to go ahead and pick up camp and start getting things ready to hit the road again. We have about 6 more hours worth of driving and then we will be in Cape Town!

Update: we made it to Cape Town and drove directly to the beach!!

2020 – does that mean we all have perfect vision now?

Hi there.

Welcome to a new decade!

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I will start this out in pretty much the same way I start out most of my blogs on here that are not designated for publication elsewhere, with an apology. I am so sorry that I have been really horrible at updating you. The only excuse I have is, well, life. Life happened. I think I am going to try and really make it a goal to post something, anything, even if it just is super short. And hey, if I post regularly, then I do not have to make these super long novels each time.

Okay. That’s out of the way, let’s move forward. I am not going to give you a super detailed report of the past two years or however long it has been since I have posted a proper update. Chances are if you follow my Instagram or Facebook stories you more or less have an idea.

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Our little crew for Christmas at Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi

So, where am I at now? I am currently in my house in Johannesburg that I have been renting since June of last year. I spent the holidays in Malawi at Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park and am in Joburg for a week now and then am off to Cape Town on Tuesday. Ryno and I will be driving and sharing our trek across on the country on my Instagram stories, so be sure to check them out.

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We spent the last day of 2019 with this lioness and the rest of her pride in Liwonde National Park, Malawi

What the heck am I doing with my life? Great question. Let’s aim for a little simpler one. What is going on in my life right now? I am currently finishing up my Masters looking at camera trap deployment and how it influences estimating serval densities. Hence this upcoming trip to Cape Town. I am going to finish up my dissertation (knock on wood) in the office at UCT where my supervisors and colleagues are all based out of. While my focus is 110% on finishing this dissertation, I am also keeping an eye out for my next employment adventure. In the meantime, I have spent most of the past year working as a freelance ecologist, taking odd jobs for minimal payment or sometimes just for the experience of it and working on building up my CV. I do have a few ideas and different directions life can take me after this dissertation is finished, but I think I will wait a bit more before I reveal those to you.

How’s Ryno? He is doing great, currently, he has abandoned me in my office for the couch instead. I know he is going to love this next trip; Cape Town is one of his favourite places. He loves the beach and hiking in the mountains there!

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And Diesel? Unfortunately, he is not doing so great. He is my old man at nearly 11 and was diagnosed with liver cancer last year, so I made a special trip out to America to go and see my gentle giant one more time. If you know me, you know how important my furbabies are to me and saying goodbye to my soulpuppy was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am so grateful to my sister and her family for providing the most amazing home for him in his senior years. I am happy I did the trip when I did and that I was able to spend some good quality time with him.

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What else? Ummm…… I am having a bit of a brain fart, but if there are any questions you have, feel free to ask me in the comments or just send me a message and I will post them in my next update.

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