Early Sunrise Bumble to the Dam

As promised, our Trainers were true to their word and there to pick us all up, just before the sun began to rise and shower the earth with its radiant beams of light. The Trainers casually asked how the night had turned out, with a gleaming smirk written all over their faces. I think that they were pleasantly surprised, although they would never have let on and probably quite relieved that we had “survived” the experience! After checking that we had cleared the site and left no human footprint behind, we headed off on the Landy’s. Where were we going, was the question and what did this beautiful day have in store for us? We drove to a dam and parked on the wall and were asked to observe what we saw and to soak it all in for 10 minutes without comment.

The absolute quietness turned into deafening silence. Oh, what bliss and something, so personal that it consumed your inner being to the point of no return. It was there and then, that I knew that this very special experience, was what I had yearned for since childhood and was what made my heart tick and made me happy. These moments, of which there were many still to come, would be forever imprinted in my enquiring mind and would be the ones that balanced me as a person and made me fully alive with this almost out of world euphoric feeling.

The 10 minutes that flew by, felt faster than the strike of a puffadder, but was enough time, to zone out and gather information, which was the sole purpose of our visit. How we dissimilated our findings would also be a lesson learnt in interpretation and communication which was crucial when dealing with guests, as a Game Ranger. It also taught us that the bush was not all about the Big 5, despite its massive brand in the tourism industry – A bush experience included looking for the smaller detail within the exquisite fauna and flora that we found ourselves in.

Within this small window of paradise and opportunity, lay another world of all creatures great and small. This picture said a thousand words and illustrated the sheer magnitude of our new subject and humbled us to realise just how small we were in relation to the whole scheme of things. We were an integral piece in the million-piece puzzle, and we were the future custodians of conservation and tourism, which happily gave me more pride than a lion.

So, what was it that I saw immediately on this magnificent outing? A Malachite kingfisher, an African Darter (never knew the family name at the time and was made to feel like I had insulted every Game ranger this side of Egypt), a Three- banded Plover, an African Jacana, a Nile crocodile, a raft of six hippo’s and three terrapins. But what else was there and ready for appreciation and acknowledgment? Without knowing the names of what I saw, but what registered with me, was all the beautiful and different grass species, the small bushes and big trees, the landscape and all around habitat that was home to so much, that co-existed in a number of ways. During the next four years, I would learn the scientific names of a number of these tree and plant species, which I found sometimes relevant, but more often than not, a waste of time. What interested me was the medicinal uses of all the flora, because I saw the value in sharing such interesting information and the knowledge of this, also somehow transported me away from the modern era, to a time when life was tough, raw and hard. It was a time, in the old days, where knowing how a plant or piece of bark could potentially help you with the onset of some unidentified illness, due to their being no Doctors and hospitals anywhere and a time that some lived in unison, with all that the wild bush threw at you.

Remember that I knew nothing about the bush, despite having always loved it – my knowledge was so limited that a single piece of thatching grass in a Savanna, would have felt more at home, than me. I was surrounded by young graduates on course, with Zoology and Botany degrees and they certainly knew so much more than me. It was this oil and water combination that also affirmed just how much I needed to learn and just how little I knew. The best part about this developing relationship with the trainees and the bush, was that I could only do better and learn more. I was actually placed perfectly, for the adventure that lay ahead and I was completely and utterly all over it and nothing, well nearly nothing would get me down. Down the road of this incredible journey, I would learn a valuable lesson, one of the most important in my life, but that’s a sneak preview into the 101 guide of how to smash some ones dreams into smithereens and for another day!