I can't believe its my last day in South Africa! I fly to Cameroon tomorrow for the next chapter of this adventure, I've not got much idea of what awaits me out there, but one thing I know is that I'm really going to miss life at IPR! Sue's invited me back as a long-termer though, so I know I'll be back, hopefully next summer when they've moved onto pastures new (and bigger and better!). Theres a few things I won't miss, such as Judith the crazy land lady who's forever trying to scam the charity out of more money, but I will miss our scheming sessions for how to get our own back (i.e. Faking an outbreak of Anthrax, moving her garden ornaments about). And I won't miss how cold it is in the tent. But I'll miss my tent club chums and the larks... (see quotes on facebook) aswell as the jackals prowling around the tent! I'm also going to really miss all the animals here, not just the monkeys. Papi's been a bit multiple personality towards me recently, sometimes he'll just ignore me, other times he'll happily sit while I groom him, but occassionally he gives me 'crazy eyes' until I leave him alone, not that I blame him, he's had a shitty life up until now and humans have been directly responsible for that shittyness. I think that being here in SA and working with primates again has stopped me missing Borneo so much too, but I'm pretty sure I'll feel the same about this place when I leave! I've definitely found a new love for the old prosimians here, I've really enjoyed working with the marmosets and cotton-topped Tamarins which are fantastic to watch and great fun to sit in with (I think I acquired a few new piercings from the marms though!)ks (on top of normal monkey duties) I went to Graskop on my days off. We hired a car and drove the 3 hour journey south-east, it was a really nice scenic route and Graskop is a great little town, we stayed at a backpackers called Valley View and I can definitely recommend it, the roaring fire in the living room was bliss after a month of frost-bite in the tent (although I did miss tent club gang including Julio and Pixie!). The first night of our stay we went the Carimambos; a Portuguese/Mozambique restaurant, the seafood and meat dishes looked great but it was pretty limited for vegetarians, a cheese sandwich was the best, no the only, thing on the menu. Breakfast the next day was great though, we went to the legendary Harries Pancakes! (We liked it so much that we went again the next day). It was perhaps not the best idea to fill ourselves up with pancakes before doing the 'Big Swing' which is one of the biggest Gorge Swings in the world! We warmed up for it with an abseil which gave us the perfect view of the 200ft cliff that we would shortly launch ourselves off! Next was the zip wire that took us across the canyon! And then finally the swing itself! Sam and Holly went first, we decided on tandems as it was cheaper, you swung higher and it seemed less scary at the time! Soon enough it was time for Lu and me to take the plunge. We were harnessed up and slowly made our way backwards to the platform edge. After a bit of coaxing Lu got her heels hanging off the edge next to mine and we leaned backwards... The free fall only lasted for 3 seconds but it was incredible, I haven't had so much adrenaline induced fun since my skydive four years ago! Lu said the worst part was the walk back up the rickety steps, most of which we crawled up!
When we got back to the hostel we chilled out by the fire before heading out to Pine & Pint for food, where I had the GREATEST vege burger I have ever experienced. There wasn't actually any burger in it, it was just roasted veg on a bun but it was amazing (Burgertron as Tasha might say). The next day we did the Blythe River Canyon circuit, we went to Pilgrims rest first where we did the museum tour (lots of amusement from posing next to cars in the car museum, etc – see photos on facebook!), then headed to the Mac Mac falls, which were stunning but you could only see them from above, from there we went to the Mac Mac pools, which, in the middle of winter I am proud to say that I swam in (all four of them) along with Sam and Lu, while most other people watched us from the warmth of their polar fleeces! From there we headed to God's Window which has some spectacular look out points over Blythe River Canyon. We also saw Bourke's Luck Potholes (where we ran into some of the guys we'd met at the hostel) which were awesome and surrounded by Vervets! Our final stop was the three round awels, which was the best view I saw all day! I don't know what an awel is, but what we saw were three round hill type things. To Sams dismay I sat on the rock that Steve and Debbie had told us about which overhung the sheer drop, it was a fantastic view though! We drove home that night, it was a shame it was dark as on the way we had vowed to get a photo of the shop with the 'mangina' sign on the window! Love it.
No monkey related drama since I returned from our road trip, but things are coming along with the property, Sue's doing some persuading of banks and owners and I have all my fingers crossed! If all goes well the sanctuary should be rescuing 6 Hamadryas baboons, 11 Spider monkeys and 15 Squirrel monkeys (and possibly some Pygmy Marmosets too!)! Papi duty has continued as usual, we've also been monitoring the Cotton-tops Tamarins to see whether they actually interact at all, BA is so crazy and he just won't get the blatant hints that poor Thimmone gives him (i.e. Scent marking his head). We've also been monitoring Kismit, one of the Common Marmosets as he's seemed a bit down lately, he's been loving the extra attention and will happily sit being groomed for hours at a time! I still don't know all the Marms, I'm getting though, just a shame I'm leaving now!
I don't know when I'll be able to update about my Cameroon adventures as I'll be properly living in a tent (no mattresses, lamps, electric blanket, dogs or the all important mace). So toodles for now guys!