Getting the Hang of Things

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Jul 17, 2013

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Where I stayed
N/a'an Ku SÍ
What I did
N/a'an Ku Sê

Flag of Namibia  ,
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Throughout the night i woke up so many times... sometimes it was the geese squawking, sometimes it was the lion roaring, sometimes it was the jackals. I had to go to the bathroom sooooo bad half the night, but was too scared to even walk two doors down because it was so dark and so loud outside. I slept in a tee, sweatpants, socks, and a hoodie. My roommates have sleeping bags.

Woke up to the most god awful noises this morning.... Screaming and screaming and more screaming. Definitely wasn't going out to pee. Suddenly I heard "what is wrong with you?!" from the other side of my wall. It the dawned on me that the god awful screeching was one of the baby baboons. About the time the screaming stopped, it was time to get up. Definitely wasn't funny at the time, but it was definitely talk of the camp all day today. Now, even as I write about it, I can't help but laugh at josh and Reese's experience with the baboon last night.

Had my first breakfast here: corn flakes with milk and dark brown toast with some form of berry jam.  Then it was off to work. 

The "cat" I referred to in last night's post is called a caracal, and we did take it on a walk as our first duty. I took my first ride in the back of a camp truck, and we drove off to pick up the big kitty. It was put into a large dog kennel and then placed in the back of the truck with me and a few others. We walked for a few miles. The caracal, named Alex, darted through the brush and among all of us. Occasionally she'd climb up a tree, but it never lasted long. At one point, as she was weaving through us, she went behind one of the men, Richard, and decided he looked like a good perch. Alex jumped on his shoulder, dug claws into his back and collar bond, and sat herself down so she could have a higher lookout spot. Quickly the bushman that was our supervisor (we always have a bushman when we are walking animals... They are seen as dominant to the animals as they have spent much time with them) swatted at Alex with a plant and got her off of Richard. I never let the cat behind me after that. We did run into guenes on our walk, and Alex was particularly interested in darting ahead in that moment, but didn't reach them in time.

I have no idea how the bushman knew our way back to the vehicle as we were not on a path that I detected, but we managed and Alex was loaded back up. We took her to her cage and fed her and her cagemate as well as picked up droppings. We then traveled around the camp and fed the other caracals. I was fortunate enough to capture a picture, despite how crummy it may be, of one of the cats jumping as high as the fence to catch the meat.

We then returned to camp for a muffin break. Muffins were much better than I expected, since they were just plain. I discovered our "colosseum" for meerkats, warthogs, and mongooses. I was treated by three very chatty hogs, which I now know that I can actually get in with and pet (will do that tomorrow probably).

After muffin break, it was time to walk the junior baboons. Definitely was not feeling up for this one either. Juniors are much much much larger, more aggressive, and smellier than the baby baby and big baby baboons. We were given very similar instructions as the ones I mentioned yesterday, but were told to walk close together so that no baboon could weave around us as that will make them test the pecking order more with nibbles and challenges and jumping on us. Again, no matter what happened, we were to avoid any reaction.

We walked quite a ways with our baboon group. One jumped on Richards back and climbed up to his shoulders (forgot to mention yesterday: Richard is a British gentleman and has red hair. The baboons love him, partly because they rarely see gingers so they do enjoy grooming his hair very much), sat for a minute, tried to leap over to my shoulders, missed and grabbed my hair, swung for a second, dropped to the ground, and pounced onto the woman in font of me. She then fell, as the junior baboons are quite heavy even without their momentum taken into consideration, and got right back up without much of a reaction at all. I was so impressed... The roads we walk on are more like sand and large, uneven rocks. Because she didn't react, none of the baboons challenged her or got aggressive.

We reached a part of the land where a sandy, rocky elevated section appeared. The baboons recognized this as our stop and rushed up the hill to forage and quickly climbed the trees as well. We sat with them for half an hour to an hour and just watched them enjoy their natural habitat. The female dominant (they have a male and female pecking order) came and began grooming our lead. We learned that this female was put in with the senior baboons, but got picked on so was moved back to the junior baboons. The big reason this was allowed is because of how much respect she has for humans. Since she is the dominant, once she shows her affection towards humans, the others hold the same respect. In addition, if the others are mean towards humans, she quickly straightens them out. She groomed our lead for over ten minutes, then went back to do other baboon things. Another female came up and groomed me for a bit, mainly my face, and then left when the dominant came back. We walked back to the camp and let the baboons back in their cage.

It was then lunch time. This morning I had decided to commit to going to Nueras for the week. After a few days I will decide if I want to stay longer. So during lunch, I went and paid for the trip... $1050 Namibian dollars. I will leave Saturday morning.

Lunch was awful. Sausages with bread and some vegetable condiments. The sausage was disgusting. At least they also provided a green apple, which was good.

After I ate, I chatted with a British woman for a bit. She told me there are a few places that do elephant research that I would be able to go and work with if I wanted. I will definitely have to keep that in mind for the future. She also told me about a game site that I can pay to attend through naan ku se. I decided I would look more into it. I heard a few other people talking about how it's one of the best game parks in the country. I then went and showered for the first time since I've been here. I have learned by word of mouth that the showers are warmed by solar energy, and that by noon they are a decent temperature and not busy. We have an hour and a half lunch break, so it is plenty of time. Today it was quite nice to shower since a baby baboon weed on me yesterday (forgot to mention that... On our walk, it sat on my leg, and proceeded to wet itself and me. This is a much more common occurrence than one would think).

We got assigned our afternoon duties at 2:30. My group was put on project work. This meant working on something for the baby baboon enclosure that is being built. We were told to gilet shovels, spades, etc. and dig a water hole for the baboons. Literally the hardest physical work I've ever done. The ground here is so dry and full of rocks. It was miserable. We got a good six to eight inches deep dug in the two hours (no point in a shower at noon). Then Bradley and I headed to the gift shop (it's only open 2:30-5:30). I got a fleece jacket with zip off sleeves, four postcards, and a key chain for $400 Namibian. The jacket will come in handy as (the small was too small ad the medium too big, so I went with the medium) I will need a bigger jacket to put the baby baboon in when I have it over night.

I then went to shower off the dirt, and my group had gotten done almost an hour earlier than everyone else, so the water was even hotter than when I showered at noon. I got bundled up in warm attire, and headed down for baby baboon induction. I learned how to care for a baby throughout the night.

Then it was supper time, and it was quite fantastic. We had chicken with some form of sweet sauce, rice, and mixed veggies (peas, carrots, and corn). They ran out of chicken so the back half of the line had to have pork (again). So thankful I was towards the front.

After I ate, I headed right back to the room tonight. Last night I sat by the fire and socialized, but tonight I am just exhausted. Charlotte (my other roomie) is considering the safari, so I was able to look over hr information. It is $3590 Namibian for a three day camping and more than $5000 for a four day accommodation. The camping takes place right by a popular water hole, so I think it would be fantastic for that experience, but if Sophia doesn't want to go to the coast, I will do the four days as that is the stop for the additional day and it will then be worth the $1500 namibian extra. Decisions decisions.

Pretty crazy... So far ive been weed on by a baboon, groomed by a baboon, sat on by multiple baboons, fed baby baboons bottles, fed baboons corn, and walked a caracal. This is seriously the definition of people living with animals. I'm so blown away every second that I am here.

I can't believe that less than 48 hours ago I was writing and crying because I didn't think I could survive this place. I could seriously call it my home, cold showers, awful sausages, poopy baboons and all.

I believe that we are assigned to research tomorrow. From my understanding that means that we go on game counts, which is supposedly incredible. I cannot wait. Until then, goodnight!
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