Saturday, February 2, 2013

Arrived at IPR

It is 7.30am and those of you who know me will be surprised to find that I have been up and awake since 5.30. It won’t last – combination of jetlag and new surroundings.

The flight was long, too long – a sixteen hour cycle of try to watch a movie, try to sleep, stretch legs, and repeat. Add some turbulence and you have all the makings of a fun flight to Africa.

I got in later that expected last night but my first impression of South Africa was how much it looks like England. Green fields and the scenery on the drive from Johannesburg to the sanctuary is oddly reminiscent of the English countryside, much more than I ever expected. In addition, the radio played a lot of British 80s and 90s pop that I rarely hear in the US, and even some of the ads have impeccable English accents. But then, they switch seamlessly between English and Afrikaans.

Since I got in so late, I didn’t have a chance to look around the sanctuary, but I jump straight into things today. There are lots of other volunteers here, mostly from the UK, a few Americans and Australians. The couple who lives next door to the sanctuary, Astrid and Manie, operates a shuttle and tour service, as well as preparing meals for those of us who want to order them. They also operate a bar for the volunteers.
For the next three weeks I am sharing a dorm room with some of the other volunteers (and incidentally, at 40, I am by far the oldest). A bunk, a small locker, one shower between about 18 of us, and plenty of cats and dogs running around everywhere. But don’t worry – I’ll get to the monkeys….

So end of day one, and it’s been a hot one. 40 degrees! A morning of getting to know the marmosets and giving them their nutritional supplements. A two hour break for lunch so down to laze by the pool, and then another few hours of work, today cleaning the feeding trays and then feeding the marmosets again. I then decided to walk to the nearest supermarket. As it happens, this was not the best idea given the heat and the fact that once I got there, it was closed. Luckily they opened up for me but with no power, I grabbed a few basics in darkness and left it at that. I bought a few more bits and pieces at the shop on site so I won’t starve today or tomorrow. But I’m thinking I may make use of Astrid’s cooking skills and take out menu a lot more than I had planned. Since the fridges are so overcrowded, that wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway.

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