Monday 3rd - Sunday 9th
So this week has been all about rifles again! After our lectures on conservation management and human habitation in South Africa we had lunch and then went off down to the drainage line at the other end of the reserve to get on with our next exercise. Today was exercise three again (the 15m, 10m, 5m) I passed it first time with an almost perfect score 38/40! We spent most of the afternoon there until about 3pm when the game drives for the lodges start again, we can't stay past that time just in case people drive near the area etc. So yeah the rest of the afternoon we did nothing except writing out classnotes on human habitation and that was that.
Tuesday morning was a grass lecture, we had to make the power point for Margaux in a bid to make the lecture more interactive, so while I was sitting there typing up the slides everybody else contributed with information from the book and in no time we had learnt all there is to know about grass! Then after that we went out to do some rifle practice for the next exercise. After lunch we went on a game drive, there was not a lot around so we did a lot of tree learning today, which is good because I still know nothing about the trees!
The next day we were up early to help out with the gardening and making the place look pretty. Anthony and I were in charge of making a flowerbed around a tree and we dug out the grass and planted some aloe's before outlining the whole thing with rocks that sparkled with Mica. Everybody was doing something and by lunch time the place was looking great! After lunch I started cleaning the pool and Margaux and I also rescued some Eastern Olive toads that had started spawning in the pool. Fingers crossed the toad spawn survives the chlorine. Then of course we all proceeded to get in the pool and have a nice cooling off.
That afternoon we went on a lovely game drive down to the Makalali area just for a little bit of change and Dan was doing his mock assessment. We were about halfway to where we wanted to go when over the radio we heard that there was a Leopard with her cubs only a short drive away. So we went at the speed of lightning down to try and find them. After about twenty minutes we were at the junction that she had been spotted and went off roading through thick bushes like an Elephant through the bush. The destruction left in our wake wasn't a bad thing though seeing as bush encroachment is so bad here anyway. Anyway after a few minutes of battling the bushes we got into the sighting and there was the most beautiful Leopard chilling out under a tree. The light was just wonderful and her fur flowed in the setting sun. She stayed there for a while before getting up and walking around the 4 X 4 while calling the cubs. It was amazing to hear her calling! Then we followed her round the corner and parked in a bit of open grass, there we found the cubs playing in the dense bush. They were actually quite big for cubs, almost the size of the mum in fact, but they were still beautiful. So we were all buzzing about it being our first Leopard sighting on the Greater Makalali reserve, and when we got home none of us could resist showing them all the photo's and telling them the story.
Thursday we had rifle assessment again. This time the exercise was the Immediate action exercise. Our rifle is loaded with three rounds, one of which is a dud. We have 23 seconds to shoot the three rounds at a 10m target, one being a misfire which we eject correctly, then we must reload three more rounds, shoot again and then load another but not fire. I passed it which was awesome so I went on to do the buffalo exercise. For this exercise we had to shoot two targets with buffalo pictures on them from 12m and 8m then chamber the third round all in 8 seconds. I passed first time which was great because there is such a time constraint. I actually really enjoyed the buffalo exercise way more than the targets, you kind of feel like you have something to really aim at. The rest of the afternoon we didn't do anything, just finishing revision notes while JP and Margaux took some friends out on a game drive.
Friday was study day as usual, we got our tests back today and I aced the amphibian test with 97%, then much to Ben's disgust I beat him on the fish test with a respectable 94%, it was really only a joke but later on Saturday I would become the proud owner of a lovely new pen! For once we split the day up with all this revision by going to Garonga to play the guys there some football. Spencer, Katy, Anthony, Dan, Jacques, Myself and the guy who was visiting JP and Margaux all went along and we had a pretty good game. I had never played football before and I did not know a single rule about it (why would I? I am a Rugby girl!), but nevertheless I knew how to tackle, so I spent most my time trying to get the ball instead of actually kicking it. I was rather good at this aspect of the game because I wasn't really scared due to what I am usually used to, but when it came to kicking it I was an absolute failure. I missed it pretty much from a stationary position, however I was doing better at football than volleyball so that is saying something. After the football match we came back, had a quick dip in the pool and then got back on with studying. It was really nice to have a bit of a break from all that revising for once!
The exam on Saturday morning was not my favourite ever, we were tested on Conservation management, Human habitation and Grasses. Its safe to say that grass really is not my forte! Anyways that behind me, I spent the day at home sitting by the pool with Candace and I finally finished that 916 page book that I have been reading since the day I arrived. Finally I finished it! So while in the mood I promptly started a new one. This time a much shorter John Grisham. I also made a cake and wrapped some presents up ready for Ulla's brithday party tonight. She thinks that she is getting old so we decided to do a kids party and play games like pass-the-parcel to make everyone feel young again!
The evening went pretty well, we all sang Happy Birthday and dug into a bit of birthday cake, then we chilled out round the fire before playing pass-the-parcel, which Spencer won (for the first time ever!). Then Ben and Dan wandered off to go and play with their cameras and write a birthday message with torches for Ulla. They were laughing so much that eventually the rest of us wandered over to see what was going on and they had started outlining people in rather hilarious shapes and forms. By leaving the exposure on on the cameras we wer able to do all crazy shapes on people or just mid air. I drew a rather fantastic elephant that any five year old would be proud of, plus I drew Taro as a cherub and Ben as a mermaid. I also attempted trying to draw the boys in a 4 x 4 but that failed more miserably than the elephant! So yeah that was a lot of fun and I think it wore me out because I shortly fell asleep on the blow up chair. Hmmm.
Sunday was a lazy day as usual I got up when I wanted, sat by the pool reading my new book and went swimming. It was lovely. The new book is a lot more enthralling than the previous, I think I am going to have it finished in the next couple of days! The evening wasn't any busier, just doing blog and essay stuff, and that was pretty much my day.