Monday 7th- Sunday 13th
Monday morning began bright and early with Katy's assessment drive, I heard that she did really well, but during the debrief JP said that he would only pass her if she did an extra 4x4 driving session. So she has passed but just not officially yet. Jacques went on his drive in the afternoon and also passed. I spent the day revising for my assessment drive and made some cakes for the drive too.
I woke up early Tuesday morning to do some last minute revision for my drive. Dan was my tracker and we got the hot box and the car ready to go. The exam started at 6am and after three hours I had only made it up the airstrip to big dam, so instead of finishing the route I had to just turn around and come back the way we had come! When I dropped everyone off JP and I went out for an extra hour to find tracks and trees that I had not had time to identify on the drive.
I did quite abysmally on the trees but I think I somewhat redeemed myself with the tracks. I identified them all correctly and even the way that they were going. I managed to identify a scorpion track which JP was really impressed with, apparently even level 3 guides have trouble identifying scorpion tracks, so I thought it went really well. I passed in any case, with just a couple of assignments to do. It was all done, finally the exam was complete and I could spend the next couple weeks worrying about nothing but trails guide. It was nice to know that I could relax for a while and concentrate on planning the week off to Addo and working on finding a placement. Evan also had his exam that afternoon and he did really well and passed too.
On Wednesday half of us went to Kruger while the others stayed behind to go on Candace and Anthony's exam drives. We left at about 4am and headed down to Orpen gate, on the way we stopped and crossing the road there was a leopard! It had obviously escaped from the nearby reserve. After it crossed the road it hid behind a rock and watched us from the Quantum. After a minute or so he turned around and ran off and we continued on our way to Kruger.
We got there around 6am and had a nice day viewing animals. We saw buffalo and elephants which was great because we never see buffalo at Garonga because they keep all the buffalo in Makalali in an enclosure to breed to a stable population and so that the predators do not prey on them. Anyway it was great to see them more, and they were wallowing in the mud and rolling around trying to stay cool, which was fun to watch. We stopped for lunch at one of the rest camps and seeing as it was so hot Ulla, Ben and I decided to go for a swim at the little public pool and cool off while everyone else got some food.
After lunch we started heading back towards the gate, I was rather sleepy and fell asleep in the car (unsurprisingly!) but I woke up in time to see a couple of lions that were resting lazily under a tree. It was a lovely end to the day and sad to think that we would probably not be coming back to Kruger for a long time. When we got back Candace and Dan told us all about their exams and how they both went really well. They didn't see much on their drives but Candace did have an adult Antlion fly onto the windscreen of the car which was pretty cool.
Thursday was Stefan's assessment. The other half of the group went to Kruger while the rest of us stayed here or went on drives. I stayed here and just work on my assignments so that I can relax a bit more over the weekend, and actually got a load of work done. When the others got back from Kruger they told us about their amazing day. They saw a Serval today which was pretty cool, amongst other things as well, but I guess that was the highlight. Apart from all the storytelling that evening not much else happened.
So Friday was the first Friday in a long time since we had no studying to do! All the tests were done besides the FGASA one the others have to do next week and we spent much of the day doing nothing, however Mark did come by to chat to us about placement. As of yet they haven't found a placement for me, which I thought was really not on seeing as my placement could have been sorted in the first week I was here because I already had my FGASA L1. He is going to try and sort some stuff out about going to Botswana to do elephant research but I don't think he really is going to try that hard. He turned round and said that I could always go to Nkambeni as a back up, but after telling him in the first week here that I did not want to go there because I had done my L1 there and would rather guide somewhere else for the six months I felt that they had not listened to me and had left me with no options. For one of the first times here I felt utterly let down by my trainers and realised that I would have to take matters into my own hands and start sending out CV's tonight to try and get my own placement sorted. So this evening I managed to contact about eight reserves and research units particularly dedicated to elephants, so fingers crossed something comes of it.
It was weird not having an exam today, instead the others went to a lecture with JP to find out what would be most useful to revise for the test next week. A few of us then headed into town to the outpost, while some others stayed at home. It was a lovely afternoon, we had lunch (which was awesome! I had Gnocchi with cheese sauce, and it was delicious! We all sat for a while chatting until we decided to go for a short walk to the bridge overlooking the river. We stood there for a while taking in the beauty of the river while the wind blew a lovely cool breeze. After a while we decided it was time to go, and so walked back along the bridge to the restaurant and went home.
That evening we had a braai as usual but then Ben and I decided to spend the evening planning our week off. After so many of our weeks off spent at the farmhouse due to car trouble and saving money for a special trip we finally decided to go on a road trip for ten days to Addo elephant park which is down in the eastern cape. The whole evening was spent deciding where to go on the way, where to stay, what activities to do and what else we want to go and see. It was so much fun! I love to organise stuff, I can't help it!
On Sunday I finished the last of my assignments and my workbook, it was a relaxed day but I was so tired from staying up late organizing what is going to be the most epic road trip in existence that I decided to go to bed early and watch a movie. I can't wait, only one week to go until we go on holiday!!!