Things that amazed & surprised me about south africa

  1. How bad my body would be at dealing with the heat. I went from -7 Celsius some mornings in Jasper, to 40 degrees on the hottest days in Africa. My first few days, it was boiling hot and I was not prepared enough. I ended up having to take an afternoon to rest, and missed a cheetah sighting. It was very sad.
  2. The food. There was milk that you didn’t have to refrigerate, but kept in the pantry until you opened it (non-refridgerable milk is apparently normal in England, Africa, and South America, but it felt so weird to me).
  3. How hard the work would be sometimes. During that month, we had sessions where we moved bricks and dug shallow ditches in 38 degrees.
  4. How incredible our encounters would be (we had lions, elephants, and more,  right by our car!)    DSC_0326.jpg
  5. How much I would love rhinos (one sighting, and I was completely in love. They’re       my new favourite African mammal).
  6. There were mountains! Whenever I pictured South Africa, I guess I just imagined the amazing animals… and that was it. I didn’t picture the background. But there were mountains, and they were beautiful! DSC_0502_2.jpg
  7. How much life there is in the bush. Especially when we first got there, the reserve had been suffering from a drought. Everything was super dry and all of the trees had thorns to keep you from eating them. It seemed like the most inhospitable place for life, and yet life was everywhere.
  8. How diverse South Africa’s people were (I knew a little about it, but being there I got a better sense of it).
  9. How many people I met there who were so passionate about wilderness and conservation. It was amazing to see the work being done by Pidwa and the anti-poaching teams. At one point we went to a bar night that was a fundraiser for pangolins, and there were a ton of people there who lived in the area and wanted to support the endangered species.
  10. How green the bush became after a solid rain. And how fast it became green.
  11. How my body eventually adapted the heat. It took me a couple weeks, but I learned to love electrolytes and respect my limits. One day at Askari we had a volleyball tournament in the middle of the day, and were playing in almost 40 degrees. It was boiling hot. We were all disgustingly sweaty. And my body was completely okay with the heat.
  12. How glad I was that I didn’t bring my laptop to Africa. I left it behind because I didn’t want to have to carry it, and didn’t want to spend valuable time on the computer while I was there. It was such a good decision. I still had internet access via my phone, but when I had free time, I put the internet away and enjoyed my time – playing a game with friends, or watching birds around the garden, or swimming in the Askari pool. I wasn’t always looking for something to post, and breaking down everything into chunks. I just enjoyed the experience, living it, taking it all as a whole, to process later. It was a different experience, and a good one.
  13. How often the schedule changed, for so many reasons. A few times the wildlife vet needed to come for something and we’d drop our plans to go assist and see cool animals up close. One morning our plans got derailed by a giraffe carcass that had been taken down by a pair of lions. We got to spend time with the lions several mornings over the next few days: DSC_0415.jpgDSC_0442_2.jpg
  14. How amazing that was, that the schedule changed so often. You never knew what could happen in a day. An incredible experience or sighting was possible at any time, and it was a very, very exciting way to live.

One such surprise sighting (photo credit: Askari team). We were just driving around when we found this chameleon crossing the road. It was cleverly disguising as a shaking leaf to avoid being eaten by a bird. It stayed a nice green colour, showing us that it was happy and chilled out, the whole encounter. Eventually we left the chameleon on a tree, safely off the road. You just never knew who you were going to meet in a morning:49581037_391795154890485_4555364389993054208_n.jpgDSC_0456_2.jpg

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