Good News and Goodbyes

24 May 2015

Well, I’ll start with the news about my Nature Guide exam!

I passed my practical!

It was actually an incredible drive, down more to luck than anything else. As soon as I entered the reserve, I found a pack of six lions hunting. I followed them all the way to the watering hole of Kwantu’s only hippo, who we could see peeking out the water. “He’s fine” I thought “He can see the lions. He won’t put himself in any sort of danger.”

Then, to my amazement, the hippo got out the water, marched right up to the lions and chased them all away with their tails between their legs! I mean, I knew hippos were territorial but… Wow! It gave me plenty to talk about!

Next we saw some rhinos, but didn’t stick around for long as the examiner was keen to see me do some tracking…

We finally found some droppings which I stopped to take a look at and, just my luck, I’d never seen such a type before! I used my guiding and tracking tools (in other words, a book about poo) and although it took some time and very careful examination I finally (and correctly!) identified them as Eland!

It wrapped up with a beautiful view in the valleys and a few teas and coffees!

That afternoon was my practical exam which, if I’m honest, I felt less than prepared for… I’ll find out the results in a couple of weeks but to be honest, I feel more than satisfied following that practical!

After the exam, Densely took us students on one last unforgettable Game Drive

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Before dropping us off at dinner, where they recognised me on the Kwantu register by my recent CORRECT title!

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Thank god I did that “practise pack” on Sunday though, because after an early morning three hour drive and the adrenaline of a two hour written exam I was ready to drop, and frankly good for nothing. So the next morning, I got up a little earlier to pack my bags and say my goodbyes to the Kwantu staff that had really made my time there as enjoyable as could be!

Mama, who always ensured we had hearty meals and big smiles!

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Tendai, the gossip

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Peter, the absolutely fascinating Action Man who took us on an unforgettable hike

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Caesar the housekeeper, who never hesitated to go the extra mile to make our Kubs Quarters Accomodation feel like home

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Zama the driver, who made every long journey feel like it was flying by

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And, of course, Densely, of Course Leader who was keen to learn as much as he was to teach and was always up for a joke.

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The weekend in Port Elizabeth was our last and had to be one to count. It began, of course, with the inevitable… Cubata!

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Sofia and I decided, for a change from our rather more civilised 2 or 3 beers we normally bring along, it was a perfectly good idea to bring a bottle of gin to share…

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Well I’ll be honest, it was a challenge. When we had but 1/10 of the bottle left, owner and superman José stressed that it really was time for him to close! But, knowing we were leaving, he showed us a few spots for drinks!

First, a rather rough looking super Afrikaans pubs around the corner, which I believe was called Springbok Papingra?? It was a funny old place, by which I mean a dive with typical divey people in it dancing around with each other. José owned the place it turned out, and was kind enough to give us all a free shot of Tequila while he sorted some business behind the bar! Sadly, I destroyed any chance of ever drinking tequila again a few months ago, so subtly passed mine to Oceane who knocked it back without hesitation!

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We were still looking around us warily, when suddenly (and I mean SUDDENLY) the entire room grabbed a partner and started ballroom dancing (despite the music continuing to be of a poppy genre!) It was later explained to me, that dancing of this style was perfectly normal in the Afrikaans culture. Well what else could we do? What would you do? We joined in! Dancing and prancing around, until finally José was finished with whatever it was he’d been doing and off we went to place number two…

Castro’s, where we next found ourselves, was completely different to whatever that first mess was. José was sweet enough to pay our entry while our backs were turned, and we walked inside to find ourselves in a sort of mini Neon Party! Entry included a free glow stick, shot of Apple Sourz and use of neon paint!

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Well, we all looked fantastic of course, and enjoyed a jolly good dance together!

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But José had worked a long shift, and needed to be home soon enough, but dropped us at our original intended destination first!

Aqua had been described on its website as South Africa’s Premier Gay Club… Well, perhaps living in both Brighton and London have caused such a description to induce high expectations! It was small, well-hidden and none too busy, but in actual fact I didn’t know what to expect from a country where homosexuality really hasn’t even been legal all that long.

We actually had a fantastic night here! Once again, sweet José paid our entry and bought us all a round a drinks and bidding us all a fond and affectionate farewell! We then proceeded to the stage (of course the stage, of course!!) to dance our feet off! As the night went on, we also all clambered into a performance cage with a pole in it and danced a little more! Call it bonding, call it silly, whatever it was… We loved every second! It just goes to show, where ever you are, it’s the company that matters!

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Finally though, we were ready for the evening to close… Though not before a quick stop at McDonalds

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You see that?? Just when you thought the Big Mac couldn’t get any more awesome, South Africa invented the Mega Mac!! A double Big Mac!!

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So this morning, you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly in great shape. Although I did muster the energy to cuddle Oceane goodbye, who was flying back to France on this day, it was until around 10:00 that I dragged myself from the bed so we could all go to Something Good for breakfast, before one last market shop.

I struggled to find something on the menu that my stomach would agree with… Finally though, after a couple of Anadin (they really are amazing you know) I found it.

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The Lemon Meringue Pie. She never lets me down.

We all had a surprising amount of success on the market, myself buying a painting I’ve had my eye on more or less these entire 8 weeks, and for a steal of a price of 80R too!

Once back at the hostel, with my stomach finally demonstrating a level of calm, I took my first Malaria tablet.

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As strange as it might sound, I did so with some excitement! It’s symbolic of my next stop, Zambia, where I really can’t wait to arrive and get to work!

We decided collectively, our final evening together should be a more low-key affair, a relaxing sit-down meal. We found a restaurant on the Boardwalk called Yi Pin perfect for the occasion, specialising in both Japanese (a favourite of Nina’s, Paul’s and Coline’s) but also Chinese (Sofia and I had been craving duck pancakes for a while).

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Needless to say, we were stuffed, but still found the energy to wrap things up nicely and spend our remaining Rand at the Boardwalk’s Games Arcade! We managed to store enough tickets from gaming to obtain a decent collection of bouncing balls and a ping pong set!

With the others staying in a hotel for their final night, Sofia and I got back to the hostel about 11:00 and decided to play ping pong with our fancy new prize!

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It didn’t last very long.

But, ping pong causalities aside… this was the perfect final weekend! As excited as I am to move forward, there are a lot of people I’m going to miss here! I sincerely hope we see each other again someday not too far.

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