Monday 19th - Sunday 25th
Our first day back from break, and we had a pretty busy day! We started the morning with going over all the safety procedures and cleaning the camp and then we proceeded to go and do rifle training. We started off with learning how to do the actual blindfolded loading test. This was different to the previous one, in that we only loaded four dummy rounds, chambered a round and then brought the rifle up into shooting position. It was a fun to practice with actual rounds this time, and I am starting to get used to how heavy it is and where to bring it up to the shoulder and how to use the bolt properly so it's getting better!
Heli and Katy then arrived back from Madagascar that afternoon and spent over lunch telling us all about the trip. That afternoon we got to watch some more David Attenborough's Life of Mammals, so that was nice to chill out a bit after the intense rifle training of the morning.
On Tuesday we learnt about biomes. It was different to the usual class, Margaux numbered all of us and split us into groups, then in our pairs we had to do a presentation on one of the biomes to the class. Ben and I were doing Savanna - the largest biome in South Africa! Our poster was very cool, though my giraffe drawings are some what to be desired. I think a five year old could have probably done a better job. But on the other hand the elephant was simply divine! Hmmmm. The presentations went well, and Margaux was so impressed with everyone's posters that they have ended up decorating the wall of the farmhouse! In the afternoon we went on game drive around the Garonga reserve, but not a lot of activity to report, it seems all the animals were lala panza (sleeping) today!
The next day we had a lecture on climate and weather. (Though I am not sure how much of it sunk in because I keep looking at the sky and still have no idea what the weather is going to be!). Then after that we did the rifle blindfold loading test of the SASSETA exam. I was not expecting to do so well either! I managed to load the four rounds, chamber it and get into to position in 10.35 seconds! Boom! The third fastest in the group. JP also said that I have the best positioning for bringing up the rifle and bolt action in the group at the moment so I was just a little bit smug after that, especially with Sheldon and Malcolm because we were having a little bit of a competition, but being the rifle experts that they are I had no chance! So now we are all out watching each other now!
In the afternoon we went out for a walk in the bush with Sebastiaan and Margaux. We all took it in turns to lead for 20 minutes which was fun, during this time we had to point out interesting things in the bush. I found a really cool rubbing post that some warthogs had used to rub the mud off that they had wallowed in, and there was even some hair that had been caught in the tree aswell! Then Sebastiaan took us to this really cool impala carcass that was suspected of a natural death and had been picked apart by some vultures. It was pretty gross smelling, but you get used to it after a while! So yeah that was a pretty fun afternoon.
Thursday was study day and today we were learning about weather and climate and biomes. It was such a long day, there was so much to learn. Definitions and diagrams coming out the ears as well as six flagship species for every biome and all the cloud shapes. However it was broken up a bit by yet more rifle training. It was practicing shooting at targets today (without rounds), basically just figuring out how to line up sights quickly from a standing position. This was all to prepare us for Friday's shooting assessment in town.
So Friday morning we made our way into town and went to the police training academy to learn about all the parts of the rifle and basic rifle safety. Then we were taken to a shooting range where we shot seven rounds with a .22 and 3 rounds with a .303 rifle. I wasn't feeling too well so thought that I was going to be a bit of a failure at rifles today but actually it was quite fun to get in to. It was so weird I was expecting some recoil from the .22 but it gave less of a kick than the air rifles that we do target practice with! Then the .303 was a bit of a shocker, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be though I did accidentally get a smack in the jaw by the stock on the first shot. After that it was easy because I knew how bad the recoil was, which wasn't very much, so I actually ended up enjoying it. My target was pretty good, I got three of my shots in the bulls eye and the rest off to the top left. Apparently it is a good thing if they are in the same area because then its just a problem with the sight that makes you off target and you just have to adjust accordingly. In fact everybody did really well with the targets and we all passed to get our competency license to shoot.
We then waited in town for a few hours because the cars needed fixing and the instructors had stuff to do, so we stayed at sleepers with a milkshake and revised in the sunshine. Once we got back to camp we got our Arthropod and Geology tests back wit ha 92% and 84% respectively. Not bad, but not the best finger crossed better luck this week. So we spent the rest of the evening revising as usual…and as usual most of it felt like it had not sunk in at all!
So the dreaded biome and weather test turned up on saturday morning and I was just glad to get out of there and chill at home today. Some of the others went into town, but because I was still not feeling to well I went back to bed for a few hours and watched a movie which was lovely to just relax. Then when the others got back from town we all chilled out outside and had our usual evening braai with a couple of drinks and some very uncool music.
Sunday was another glorious lay in until about 8am. Then I spent the morning doing a bit of practical work for next week and working on my elephant essay. Then in the afternoon everyone went to watch some movies so I joined in on the idea and watched Jurassic Park with Ben. It was awesome as per usual, and I enjoyed even more in Africa because every time we come through the gates in Makalali I feel like we are entering Jurassic Park! Hehe.