There has been great excitement this past week here at the Mahlahala Campus. Between lectures on radio procedures to botany, basic vehicle training, and almost 20 hours of practical drives so far, we definitely could tell that our course had really started with a bang.
A busy weekend of first aid certification was followed by few long but fascinating days in the classroom, broken up by some chances to show off our driving skills and physical prowess during vehicle assessment and tyre change training.
On Wednesday afternoon it was time for our first practical drive. A fine balance of anticipation and eager excitement swam in the minds of the students who would be the first to conduct a drive, and I can confidently say that is was an incredibly memorable experience.
Over the next four drives, we collectively couldn’t believe how much we had learned from the bush, and even more so that this was only a drop in the ocean compared to the vast wealth of knowledge that could be gained from it. The information about medicinal uses of tree leaves, the patterns of songbird calls and the fine details of mammal tracks, (amongst many, many other topics) felt as if it was being poured out of the minds of our trainers into ours, and spilling onto the pages of our notebooks.
Some highlights of the drives included the Thembe lion pride attempting a hunt then drinking at a pan, cheetah along the fence line, chameleons, rolling dung beetles, birds – the likes of many of us have never seen before, and of course some truly breathtaking sunsets.
After our workbook and study session on Saturday, despite the rain, we were all very keen for a bit of R and R, whether it was relaxing by the pool, doing some birdwatching, or venturing into Hoedspruit for some well-deserved weekend refreshments. The cooler weather with plenty of rain was very much appreciated. Sunday was spent revising and studying for the next day’s tests on guiding skills and botany.
All in all, a very busy second week, but incredibly fulfilling first ‘real’ week. Personally, and I’m sure I speak very many others, I cannot wait for the next one.