It's only a matter of days before you adjust to the work routine here. Most of the morning jobs involve feeding or cleaning (cleaning out the quarantined monkeys awaiting TB and diabetes testing, preparing food for the troops, cleaning and prepping the op room and clinic and last but not least, cleaning out the baby cage - certainly the most entertaining of jobs.) Now and then we have to take our machetes out to the sickle bushes and long grass to gather additional food for the monkeys. There's nothing more satisfying than swinging a huge blade!
The early mornings have been surprisingly easy to adjust to (probably as I've been in bed by 8.30pm most nights - hardly very rock & roll!) The delayed breakfast have been equally easy to get used to (probably as I had pre-empted morning starvation by packing small boxes of Sunmaid raisins in my luggage.) There's nothing more satisfying than sitting down to a hearty breakfast, having done 2 hours physical work by 09:00. Apparently it's known that mosquitos are not fans of marmite and the experiment seems to be working as my daily intake on toast has so far prevented any attack.
The lousy weather continues and I have to say I have never experienced such horrendous electrical storms as the ones experienced here. The sound of torrential rain on the dorm's corrugated iron roof at night is truly horrifying. Sometimes it sounds as if the whole place is going to come crashing down.
This week we had our first excursion, to Graskop, via the Drakensburg Mountains. It was a bit of a squish with 11 of us in 'the venture' the centre's van for 3 hours but the scenery enroute was spectacular and the town of Graskop was very sweet, especially the Silver Spoon restaurant where we all enjoyed some (ridiculously cheap) grub. We headed on to the 'Big Swing' - a 60ft drop over a ravine, which is supposed to be a 'must' for thrill-seekers. I wimped out and elected to be 'bag-carrier' and 'photographer' instead as I'm fairly certain that my lovely silver spoon lunch would have made a re-appearance, had I attempted it.
This week I also experienced my first braai (possibly the best steak I have ever eaten) and potjie (literally translated as 'little pot food') where you cook your own stew in individual cast iron pots over hot coals. There's nothing more comforting than eating in front of the fire and polishing off the meal with toasted marshmallows.
I have not showered for two days but have become surprisingly used to it. God only knows why I bought my trip clothes with such consideration as pretty much everything is soiled to some degree, by dirt and monkey bodily fluids. I look (and smell) like monkey but it really doesn't matter and I could quite get used to living like a swampy bush pig.