Bike riding, game counting, and Bananagram'ing

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

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Sunday, June 30, 2013

Today was my first full day at Neuras. We had breakfast from 7:00-8:00: cereal, bread, jam, the usual. BUT we do get complimentary hot chocolate here, which is so nice. A bigger variety of tea is also available along with coffee (which we hade at the farm).

Then we divided into two groups. One group went with the Matt the runs Neuras and the other group went with the Matt that is the Duke student.

My group was sent to learn how to use the GPS systems, which was done by sending us off on a scavenger hunt. We looked for three "pyramids" made of stone, each in a different location. In each of the pyramids was a soda can that contained instructions on how to program the GPS and therefore find the next pyramid.

When we completed that, after about an hour or so, we returned to the “home base” and got our next mission. We were sent out on bikes to check on a camera trap and do any necessary maintenance. We checked the batteries, switched out the memory cards, made sure the motion sensor was working and the camera was taking pictures. All was in order. The bike ride itself was a bit painful, as we rode through everything from soft soil/sand to large rocks. It's a bit different riding bikes in the “bush” than at home. Thankful that I had some experience riding bikes on gravel roads.

I got back to the home base with an incredibly sore bum (I think it might be bruised) and in time to go through the memory card we retrieved from the camera for the Matt that runs Neuras. We did that for about an hour (the memory card had about 1000 pictures), and then everyone else arrived. Lunch was ready, and we dug in. It was some kind of tuna casserole that took the form of bready bars. It was incredibly good. It was served with potato salad and a salad consisting of a variety of beans (including green beans and kidney beans).

We then had a couple of hours to relax, and I got started on my midterm paper that is due tomorrow. I got a good chunk of the paper pounded out, with the intent to tie up the loose ends after supper and e-mail it before bed.

Noodle, the winery’s Jack Russell, started going crazy. We looked around to see three wild warthogs make their way into the middle of the yard and begin grazing. Duke Matt told us that they are willing to take such chances because of the awful drought. He also told us that at first the warthogs were scared of Noodle and ran, but they are getting braver and a couple have even charged him when he goes after them. We watched and laughed at the exchange among the animals.

During this time, I also learned about what groups of certain animals are called. These are the most interesting:

Zebras – a dazzle
Giraffes – a tower (if they are standing still), a journey (if they traveling)
Wildebeests – an implausibility
Hippos – a pod, a raft, a float
Mongooses - a business
Rhinos - a crash

 Then it was time for my first game count. I hadn’t gone on one at the farm, so I was quite excited to go on this one. We drove up and around the north side of the property. The landscape was filled with beautiful mountains. We saw a jackal, a warthog, kudu, and more than 70 springbok (a very large number, even for springbok). It was a very enjoyable ride, and I got way too many pictures of the mountains.

Then it was time for supper.  We enjoyed a vegetarian pasta dish with some form of thick red sauce and mushrooms. We also had a salad with dressing (dressing! At the farm there is no dressing).

I did end up completing my paper, and the Matt that runs Neuras put it on a thumb drive and let me send it via his e-mail (the internet is too sketchy here for more than a couple of people to use, so it’s only used for research purposes).

A game of Bananagrams broke out, and we all played in teams of two or three. I was with Sven and Beth and am proud to say that we won one of the two games I played. It was incredibly fun and we all laughed so much. I enjoy the game in America, but I must say that it is more entertaining to play with a group of people from around the world.

I’m off to bed now. Not sure what tomorrow will entail since I will be heading out with Duke Matt. 
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