I’ve only been in the field for a little over a week now and it’s already starting to feel like home. Lucky for me, I’m not all alone out here with only the lions for some company. I’m conducting the behavioral observation portion of my research with a group of elephants that live at this camp site within the Kapama Game Reserve. There is a beautiful lodge there where guests can stay, go on game drives, eat really really good food and even meet a few elephants throughout their trip. There is a whole team that goes into making these daily operations possible for the lodge and I’m super lucky I got stuck with them, or should I say that they got stuck with me?
My favorite part of the day is in the morning when everyone is just waking up and all groggy. I run on over from my room to the main house where all the chefs and some of the office staff lives. We all pile into a bakkie (Pickup truck) and cruise on down across the reserve towards the lodge hitting some “speed bumps” along the way. I really needed a chiropractor visit before I came here, but every time I have a kink I just hop in the car and hope it jolts my spine into place.
Once we arrive at the lodge I take a big swig of water and prepare myself for the biggest task of the day…saying good morning to everyone. Now this may sound silly, but saying good morning around here is a quest that is not for the faint of heart and can get competitive. Instead of saying “Good morning”, like us boring Americans say, South Africans use the term “Môre” (pronounced mora), which is very beautiful and consists of a nice long tongue roll on that r. Now many of you may know that I am not the best at learning languages, especially when it comes to a language like Spanish which involves heavy tongue rolling for correct pronunciation. Okay, so Afrikaans is like Spanish on steroids. SWEET MERCY! Mom and Dad where was the essential tongue rolling gene when I was created, because I am struggling over here!?! Oh and you don’t just greet someone by saying “Môre” once. Hahahaha, NO! You say it at least 5-6 times… to each person! So everyone sounds like a bunch of little purring cats, cooing back and forth at one another beautifully, wishing one another a happy day, while I’m over here choking on my tongue which refuses to roll properly, so I have to make the Chewbacca wookiee noise as loud and quickly as I can. “MORA MORA MORA MORA MORA MORA!!!” Fortunately for me, everyone is very kind here and usually just laughs at my horrific attempts at trying to speak Afrikaans, but hey at least I’m trying, right?!
Anyway, after my horrific attempts at greeting my fellow comrades, it’s time for some coffee. So, instant coffee is all the rage here and I must admit, though one could say I am a coffee snob after working as a barista for several years, instant coffee is actually pretty good (If anyone from Brew Point reads this please don’t hate me). So, when you decide to make yourself a cup of coffee, if you are the first one at the station you can bet you will have a list of drinks to make besides your own. I feel like I’m a barista all over again, running from room to room asking who needs a refill or a fresh cup of Joe. They even have a little table chart with each person’s names and how many coffees and creams and sugars they take. Fun Fact: When making instant coffee, use a teaspoon not a tablespoon. I almost killed one of the chefs one night after giving him a serious overdose of caffeine in one of my first coffee making attempts. The absolute best part about the coffee making process is that everyone here has their own special mug. For the first week, I would make everyone coffee in their special mugs and bring it to them followed by my unholy shrieking gurgle of “Môre!” I would return to my coffee, looking utterly depressed in its sad plain white mug that was claimed by no one. I never realized how important a little old coffee mug could mean to me. Well, I went into town to buy some essential things for living and such and guess what was at the top of my list?
Home sweet Home 🙂