Apprentice Field Guides
And just like that everything starts coming to an end. Our second last week where everything we learned gets put to the test in the form of our final assessment game drives, in which we host and guide real guests who have been invited to Ulovane especially for the game drives.
The week started off with a lovely trip with our instructor Justin to an area on the reserve with the most incredible view (see pictures!!), very aptly named ‘God’s Window’. There is a natural cave just below the lookout that we went specifically to explore. Personally – this excursion is not for the faint-hearted! It is quite a hike! And walking both up and down the steep limestone cliff is a challenge but nonetheless, very exciting and safe to say we were all challenged with this task. There were some members of our group who were very afraid of heights; it was absolutely amazing to see the pure will and determination it took from them. They knuckled it down, and ‘prayed’ to make it! A true-life lesson I learnt from their actions is that it doesn’t matter the obstacles that face you in life, if you believe in yourself you will succeed!!
Then ‘D-Day’ for our assessment drives arrived! It was nerve-wracking, I tell you! Even through it all, however, it made me realise and understand how important a role Ulovane and their great team play in the type of guide we turn out to be. And YES, a guide is most definitely what I want to be!
We were fortunate to host the under 13 rugby boys from a school in Port Alfred for one night. They spent a night in camp with us, where we all sat around the fire and told stories and appreciated being under the stars and in nature. Those young boys had a ball! This past week was ‘Arbour week’, a national holiday usually celebrated only for one day, but here in South Africa due to the amazing diversity and abundance of the indigenous forest we boast, we have A WHOLE WEEK dedicated to this important event. So these special boys planed a tree for us here at Ulovane, a tree that will live for many, many of their generations. The ‘Bush Boer bean’ tree (Scotia latifolia), has been said to live for up to 800 years! How special that these boys will be able to watch this tree grow with a little piece of their hearts in its history, as each player and Coach Vush got to throw some soil in to plant it.
Yet another great initiative by Candice and Schalk to teach children about saving our environment one tree at a time.
This activity led me to thinking even more, to doing our part too and giving our guests a little gift in the form of a Spekboom ‘Tree of life’, sapling to take home with them as a thank you gift for coming and to please plant it at home in honour of Arbour week!
Have you heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?”. We say, “Plant a tree a day, and save earth for your kids one day”.
By discovering nature, you discover yourself. Maxime Lagacé
We kicked off our second week of marines with some early morning yoga which was quite interesting and fun! What better place to be at than on the beach to have the right motivation to exercise! We also had a lecture on marine conservation and human historical habitation, which is always a fun one. Most of the information we covered we had already learned on our Apprentice Field Guide course; it was good to refresh our memories with it, and then add some new facts to that too, especially when it comes to marine conservation. For example, in comparison to what we learned about mitre drains, soil erosion and bolsters as Field Guides, here we learnt more of why we have aquariums, which we all found really interesting, as well as why we have marine protected areas, why they are important and the benefit they provide to the coastal environment.
Our bright and early start to the week on Monday for exercise sadly didn’t continue into Tuesday, even though we had every intention of doing so!! We had a fantastic day however in Kenton-on-Sea, snorkelling in beautiful weather. We saw so many little shoals of fish, plenty of different algae and other animals and sea creatures we are all so fascinated by. The highlight of our day was the two-star fish that we saw! I really enjoyed our lecture on marine mammals, especially learning more about whales and the specific things they do with their tails, for example, have meanings behind them, which we learned in our marine animal behaviour lecture. Mid-week we had a little fishing trip and tried our hand at fishing for some food to eat; I caught two fish but alas they were too small to eat so we decided to put them back. We also got to see some impala and bushbuck while we were fishing which was great.
With the marine guide outdoor trips being totally weather dependant, Thursday had us indoors as we had a much-needed rainy day. The time was well spent as we got to cover three more lectures which means we will be able to utilise the good weather coming up in the next few days outdoors. The marine birds lecture was quite fascinating as I learnt about birds I didn’t even know existed. Birds on the coast and out at sea live vastly different lives to the birds we know and see daily in our gardens and in the bush. Did you know that some sea birds like the magnificent Wandering Albatross, after having become airborne at about 2 years of age, will not land again until it’s ready to breed which can be for up to 10 years!! Afterwards,we did marine fish, which was very exciting learning about sharks, and all sorts of colourful fish and sliver fish and how they work in the great ocean. We watched ‘Finding Nemo’ but we now saw it through completely different eyes! It is such a thrilling feeling learning all these new things we are and then being able to apply them.
Our week ended off with our exam on three modules, and the weather was marvellous on Sunday so we took full advantage and had a nice day at the beach, ending off another fantastic week with a braai and some games between us to relax and start the new week refreshed.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. Rachel Carson