It has been busy, fun, full-of-lessons, and a bit of frustration in the mix for a real-life-experience.
We are SO enjoying our bush place. This is true wilderness: there is the full array of bugs and spiders and other bush inhabitants and one must just be a bit smart in how one goes about things to avoid a nasty experience then it is all good. It is not as densely populated with game as a place like Kruger Park is, so each game experience is magical. My heart has just about burst at joy of seeing near to 30 species of bird around our house in the morning; and the quest to see who visited in the night has still not become boring.
Bushbuck, honey badger, civet or genet and PLENTY of ape spoor (baboon and monkey) keep us in a detective mood in the mornings.
The baboons and monkey are NOT our greatest buddies. Part of our first important lessons are how to live: keep doors and windows closed. Remove all items that can be food or toys– they have played dress-up with our tablecloth around a tree, tried to eat fire lighters a few times and got into our washing powder somehow too. Deon is now perfecting skills with a catapult.
Having a chance to go eat a meal in the bush is amazing. We take Old Rusty and go sit at a dam, or have a braai on a hill top, with the beauty of nature around us. This is just so fulfilling.
Other events of the week:
An art lesson! It was great to get back to a teacher and I am looking forward to learning LOTS of art skills again – I feel terribly out of practice.
A visit to a local school where our farm staff are making a difference. Maatla Primary is a government school, and is very representative of many such schools in rural South Africa. There are about 700 students, and the farm staff have chosen to focus on the Grade 7 students, simply because there is too much to do for them across the entire range of learners. At the moment the learners are brought to the farm once a month, given lessons in ecology, taken for game drives and given some food. The next task is to paint their classroom.
We also visited the pre-school section. There are about 70 kids in this class, with 2 teachers. About 30 of these children have been orphaned and are simply left in the care of the teachers. Several others are dropped off by parents on a Monday and collected on a Friday. This is NOT a boarding school: the little ones all cram into the tiny tin huts of the teachers. One teacher who showed us around has 19 children staying with her.
Two of the visitors from the farm were young British boys on their first trip to SA. The experience was eye-opening for them: things are so different in Africa! The school children were struggling as one of the grade 1 learners had died a few days before: many of these children will not make it to Grade 7 because Aids is a big problem in the area. Pens, pencils, books are often simply too expensive to buy. One of the great shocks of the day was seeing the pots of the school, standing empty.
The Government is meant to provide food so that the children in rural areas can eat: for several this is the only meal they will get in a day. The food had not been delivered for almost a week and the children were going hungry. Some of the amazing visitors with us on the day put in money so that we could get some food and the children would be able to eat. What a joy to leave something so tangible for these young ones!
Another event: our boxes arrived from their storage joint! It was great to be reunited with old familiar mugs, plates, pots… though not all were opened. Our kitchen is fairly small and we need to do some building before we can be totally unpacked.
We got to meet our newest family member on a short trip to Nelspruit. Welcome to the family, Kenzie Nilsson! Just four weeks old, but such a gorgeous little thing… Ah! Precious!
We are STILL trying to get our internet connection sorted. Until such time as things work smoothly, blog posts will be rather irregularly posted. We are considering new job options which may take us out of SA for a while again… things can change rather quickly! Fridge did not make it happily from Jo’burg to Lissataba. Somewhere in the week I turned fourty years old.
…. So there is a LOT that has been happening, even in the middle of the African bushveld!
Until a connection allows a chat again, I send greetings with the call of hippos in the background, our garden offerings in flower
and this really awesome fellow who popped out to say hi as we drove past.