Daktari 1.5

Sorry, I know some of this is cut off at the edges, and I’ve tried everything, but it’s the best I can do here with what I’ve got.
I think I’m going to spend part of tonight sitting in the genet’s cage.  She is nocturnal so I haven’t seen her yet.  Apparently very shy, but not dangerous so it’s time I got to know her.

Lots of amazing birds too – the hornbills flock around when we put bird food out and some smaller birds, especially these gorgeous little waxbills – cinnamon coloured tops and bright blue undersides – also come to get the leftovers.

Waxbills, taken at James's place

Waxbills, taken at James's place

And I go to sleep every night listening to the nightjars calling and the leopard sounding.  It’s pretty neat.
And now that I’ve got my shower fixed, it couldn’t be much nicer – sun and beautiful bright flowers all around, critters and nice people – life is good!

Impala lilies

Impala lilies

Day 4
Well things are progressing, I think.  I’m astounded at the kids’ level of education though.  These children
we have here are supposed to be in Grade 8, but none know their multiplication tables.   The common strategy
seems to be to mark down dots in groups and then count them.  If, for instance, you were to multiply 34 x 22,
they would mark down 22 groups of 34, then count each individual mark for the total.
Most of them seem to know most of the 4 basic operations symbols (plus, minus, multiply, divide) if they concentrate and pay attention.  They are supposed to be conversant in English at a basic level, but most comprehend almost nothing (may be exacerbated by the variety of English accents) and can speak very little.  It’s really tough trying to teach them anything about the environment and English and math when
you’re starting from such a dismal base and have so little time.  It’s not that the kids aren’t intelligent, just that they have had such  a poor start and have such limited outlooks.

Hornbill guarding food

Hornbill guarding food

Kids on a swim break

Kids on a swim break

One of the rangers here was saying how important the eco work was since they have killed everything – even all the birds – anywhere near the
villages.  It’s pretty much subsistence farming up here without much herding even, so anything that moves gets eaten.  Trying to educate children about why that’s a short-sighted strategy is really an uphill battle.

Don’t remember if I told you, but I have an outdoor bathroom – under a thatch roof and surrounded by a double  wall of poles.  The warthogs  and Eeyore like to try and break in during the night, so that can be annoying  – after you get over being completely freaked.  I also have a lovely frog in my bathroom that spends the nights croaking and the days sitting on top of the mirror frame.  He’s a cutie, and I have to say that after
I leave here I’ll miss having some one to talk to when I’m washing my face and brushing my teeth.
I’ll try to get this posted.  Still can’t get on line – some conflict apparently between Win 7 and dongles, where Win 7 sees the dongle as a CD drive, so it’s not recognized as the correct device.  Don’t think there was ever this much trouble with letters, was there?
Well, only got half of it posted yesterday, so will add a bit and try and get the rest posted today.
I’ve written more – 3 times now and it just keeps disappearing.  I’ve about had it with the computer problems  here.  Got the device problem fixed yesterday, and now there is a further problem that may require a registry hack – so if I “disappear” for several days you’ll know what happened.

Had a small party for the departing students last night, just a bonfire, some games and songs, but some of them didn’t want to settle down afterwards and after warnings up to 1 a.m., two of them got no breakfast this  morning.
Took that group back to their village this morning and also took the staff back to their villages.  The kitchen and grounds staff here work 3 weeks on and one week off as they live so far away that if they got weekends off they’d have almost no time to spend with their families.
And then we picked up the replacements.  Interesting trip.  Ian told me that there is a 49% unemployment rate in Limpopo province and that it’s being made worse on more than one front by the Land Claims situation.

Ian dearly wanted a bit of lawn, and now they've dug it all up for the crocodile pen!

Ian dearly wanted a bit of lawn, and now they've dug it all up for the crocodile pen!

When a land claim is settled on a tea plantation or a citrus farm, a property that was earning revenue for the owners and the government and employing 2 or 3 hundred people will have its trees all cut down and the land cleared for cattle and only employ 2 people.  So no export or tax income, no jobs and the land made basically unproductive.  Lots of people very nervous and many leaving the country even before the claims heard, so their land is also unproductive and jobs lost.  Terrible brain drain and loss of know-how as well.
And under affirmative action, you only need a 45% pass to get into medical school.  No wonder more people are going back to the ngangas.

Saw a troop of baboons on the trip this morning that had learned how to climb electrified fences without getting shocked.  It was funny to watch them, but I doubt the farmers found it quite so amusing!
It’s hot, hot here this afternoon, and very quiet with no kids around and everybody else having siestas.  Just listening to the wind and the birds – got a woodpecker going at it a few feet away.  I’ll try to post this and then I’ll have a siesta too.


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