Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Website Launch!

The website has been officially launched! I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and it was a great learning experience. Check it out at http://www.desertelephant.org

I'll try to write more in the next day or so before I head off to the desert for another few weeks!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Water Hole Building and Elephant Patrol

I'm a little late with this update but I've had a busy week on the website. Our go-live date is Fri Nov 6th! Hopefully it'll all go smoothly.

Well the 2 weeks after the trek were a lot of fun. I did a 2 week volunteer cycle. There were 5 of us from the trek as well as 6 other volunteers for the 2 weeks. We had a little vehicle trouble on Monday leaving town so we didn't make it to base camp till late Monday evening. While Dave briefed the newcomers, Anneka and I made dinner for the group over the fire, spaghetti bolognese. It was another fun group of people to be around and quite different from the trekkers.

We all stayed at base camp for the night and then Tuesday we headed out to our building site where we would build a drinking hole for elephants, zebra, rhino etc. It might prevent them from damaging a farmer's water tank if they have access to water themselves. We headed back to base camp for the weekend, and spent the following week looking for ellies.

Again I'll just go through the highlights, and I still haven't taken a photo yet :)

- While looking for firewood, we drove into an aardvark hole which is like a giant pothole. If we didn't have the trailer on the back of the truck we might have tipped over. After much digging and pushing, we got back on track. Just another thing to watch out for when we're driving in the bush.

- At the build site there is a lot of dry grass and anything can set off a fire. A spark from a pick axe was the culprit this time. Within seconds there was a quite a big area of grass which was on fire. It took everyone with shovels, stomping and tossing sand on it to put it out. It was scary how quickly it spread but impressive how everyone came together so quickly and killed it.

- It began raining at night, just a few drops the first few nights but torrential on the last night. I woke up in a puddle. Its a little early for the rainy season but thankfully we had a big tarpaulin we could hang from the truck and a tree so people could sleep underneath. I didn't feel like sleeping like a sardine under the tarp with everyone so I slept under the truck. I kept hitting my head off the exhaust pipe when I sat up or moved but I was dry!

- We found some really big scorpions at one of our camp sites. It freaked a few people out but we all came through unscathed and no one got stung.

- We found a new herd of ellies, about 15 of them. They were really shy compared to the rest of the herds, they're just not used to the sound of the trucks. They led us on a chase for 200km over 2 days before we found them. Well worth it though. The next 2 days we left them alone and followed another herd, the Ugab small herd.

There were 5 females and a bull called Cheeky. I got to name of the of females who didn't have a name already. I named her Tamla after a special person I knew.

They were really relaxed in front of us and one even lay down for a nap only about 2-3 metres from us. Tony from our group took this photo.

It was another great trip, even if it was a little more eventful than usual. During the weekend back in town, Rob, Anneka and I went kayaking on Sunday morning in Walvis Bay, another small town along the coast. We were surrounded by a few dolphins and lots of seals.

Monday, while the new batch of volunteers were heading out, I was back on the website. However there was another vehicle problem so they had to borrow Johannes's car. They asked if I'd go out to the camp with them and drive it back the next day. I was packed and ready to go before they even finished the question. A bonus night in the desert, yes please!

In the end Dave drove back with me, he needed to pick up another car from town but he let me drive back for half the journey. Here's a photo of the road we drove on.

Its been a quiet enough week, just been busy on the website. I did some yoga on Wed, I'm slowly trying to get back into it.

I went sandboarding on Sunday in the dunes at the edge of town. The Namibian desert is the oldest desert in the world by the way! We could do either stand up boarding (like snow boarding) on lie down boarding. I did the lie down version. Basically you lie on a piece of greased up ply wood and go head first down a steep sand dune. The first run was scary but after that it was fantastic. I got up to 73 km/hr. I think the fastest of the day was 75km/hr. I ended up with sand in places I didn't know you could get sand. Great day, I'd do that again, as you can see from the pure joy on my face in the photos :)

Hope everyone is well!