Our second week of the Ulovane Marine Guide ems here in South Africa.
Our first two afternoons this week snorkeling along the rocky shores here in Kleinemonde. These were two of the most enriching snorkeling experiences I’ve had in my life. We got to see twenty or thirty spotted grunters swimming in a tidal pool searching for food, in addition to several beautiful starfish. We traveled to Three Sisters on our second day, and collected invertebrates, such as giant turbans and black mussels, for Paul’s (our host) famous seafood chowder. We even saw an octopus in one of the pools – how cool are they!!
We found some time in the middle of the week to catch up on our studying, so Thursday we were able to rent a barge to travel up the Kowie Estuary all day. We saw a host of birdlife, including my personal favorite bird of prey the harrier-hawk, and each tried our hand at fishing. Unsurprisingly, none of us had much luck other than a few heartbreaking bites.
However, we were able to rally ourselves to catch a giant mud crab and large tiger prawn and nature even blessed us with a fresh cuttlefish floating on the water’s surface. Friday night came time to reap the rewards of our hard work with a delicious chowder. It was some of the best seafood I’ve ever had in my life, all caught by the group itself.
Saturday came our second exam in which everyone made huge improvements from last week and we are all on track to pass our marks as we prepare for our final FGASA exam. That night we attended the cricket party at the country club, and it was so amazing to see so many friendly people of all ages coming together to enjoy an evening. I made a host of new South African friends who I can hopefully re-connect with as I continue to find my own way in this country.
Next week we leave Paul and Jane, and I can speak for all of us in this group when I say it is going to be very tough. They have been a second family to us and have done more for me personally than I could have possibly imagined.
“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.” –Sandy Gringas
Hello everyone and welcome to our third installment of the Marine guide blog.
My name is Musaab Ibrahim and I’m an intermediate guide from Nairobi, Kenya, my home and country of operation. This will be my first time with Ulovane, I previously took both my Field guide and Trails guide up in Limpopo.
The date is 16th March and we are still in Kleinemonde. Our last day before we go down the coast to Port Elizabeth.
The last kayak ride planned for the East Kleinemonde River, we are on the lookout for our last kingfisher; the half collared kingfisher. An elusive bird that is known to inhabit estuaries and narrow rivers with dense vegetation. Which prompted us to be especially vigilant with the many tributaries that we passed. But the river had other plans and decided to bless with a rare yet wonderful sighting, an osprey on the hunt.
At first, we were rather confused, perhaps it is a juvenile fish eagle! But no! The colors are all wrong! As we continued to watch it launched itself off an electricity pole and swooped over the water successfully nabbing a fish that had been lurking just below the surface.As the excitement died down and we proceeded up the river the sides of the bank became more and more densely vegetated our anticipation grew.
The river widened before narrowing into a canyon on one side and a shallow bank on the other side. As we slowed down to have a look around a small bird landed on the other side of the bank, drawing attention to it we proceeded to observe it through our binoculars before realizing that it was the kingfisher that we had so eagerly looked for. Finally, the set was complete. We allowed ourselves a small moment of jubilation before moving further upriver.
The cliff faces was peppered with river euphorbia and the pièce de résistance a giant cycad. It was superb massive green fern-like leaves dotted with seed pods. The first of its kind that I had ever encountered. It was then that the environment changed into a deep river thicket, green as far as the eye could see, the lapping of the small waves crashing on the shore and pure and a scene that would be more appropriate for a survival show in the middle of an unpopulated jungle in the middle of nowhere, yet we were mere kilometers away from civilization.
We rowed slowly soaking in the bird song and greenery till we came to a stop at a fallen tree that blocked our progress up the river and got off our kayaks and had a small break. Deciding to start heading back before the wind started to pick up. We trudged up the same river we so calmly came down on. To find that once we had cleared the denser area that the wind had already started blowing with quite the force.
As I buckled down and started rowing the wind picked up another notch, forcing me to power on lest I be pushed back the way I came by the relentless current. My arms became a repetitive blur of stroke after stroke. My focus was entirely dedicated to moving ever onwards until my shoulder flared up! Due to a recent motorcycle accident and subsequent surgery the arm wasn’t about to be put through such rigorous exercise without complaint.
Thankfully our instructor and mentor Mr. Pretorius was nearby and noticed me lagging behind and stopped to wait for me to catch up before insisting we take a short break. Slowly but surely we pushed up the river and onto the small pier where we proceeded to take our kayaks out of the water and secured them onto the trailer before going home and taking the afternoon off.
That night we had planned a small dinner for our hosts; Mr. and Mrs. Cowley as thanks for the generosity and kindness that they had shown us in the weeks that we had stayed with them. The mood was festive and joyous as we concluded our last day in their company.
My 2 colleagues and I ended the night with a small speech. Each offered our thoughts and gratitude to the lovely couple whom at this point we considered family. Closing the night in a festive mood with lots of well-wishings and promises to visit we went to bed with an eager yet pensive mood for the week to come.
“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard.” –Psyche Roxas-Mendoza