Sunday, August 19, 2012

The craziness of life

I sit here in the living room, a belly full of amazing homemade indian butter chicken with my wonderful housemates and their amazing, and in Rex's case damp from a recent bath, dogs watching "Julie & Julia" on TV thinking: "I haven't written in our blog for ages and people probably wonder if we are still alive!!

I'm going to sum up the past handful of months in a few dots points and later go back and fill in some of the juicy details.

-1st semester of second year vet went well academically but emotionally was a bit of a fiasco due to some confusing misunderstandings between friends as well as the added stress of trying to fundraise for working with a wildlife vet in South Africa with only the support of David and the "non-support" of most everyone else (in Australia). I put on a raffle, which was fairly easy to find stuff for, but extremely difficult to sell tickets for considering I hate selling things to people.
In the end I raised enough money (from the raffle, selling cookies, a $500 scholarship from uni, and mostly from donations from the amazing people back home that I attained a few years earlier) for plane tickets, travel insurance, and immunizations with a bit extra to cover some of the program costs.

-I went to South Africa and worked for 4 weeks with Dr. Peter Rogers in Hoedspruit.  I stayed with the most amazing family (the Burns) who owned a horse riding school, so I was able to get some courtesy riding lessons from some of the best teachers (in my opinion)!  When there wasn't much to do on the wildlife end I would work at the Provet Veterinary Clinic, which Dr. Rogers owns, but who only does the wildlife, Me-lani is the small animal vet.  The wildlife work was simply amazing, I absolutely loved working with Pete (Dr. Rogers) who was so fun, and getting to touch and experience all the different species that I did was incredible!  I was able to work with: lion, sable, eland, kudu, rhino, leopard, vervet monkey, white-headed vulture, brown snake eagle, squirrel, horses, buffalo, and got to see so many more animals!

On the side of the roads were large electric fences to keep animals in the reserves (mostly privately owned) and it amazed me how often you could see wildlife (zebras, giraffes, buffalo, impala, warthogs, monkeys, baboons) on the side of the road along the fences!  These are not small reserves!  We were just outside Kruger National Park and a lot of the area we were in was in the Greater Kruger.  I did get to go into Kruger, and saw lots of zebra, giraffe, impala, and elephant, all of which were very close up and it was amazing, but I was slightly disappointed that we didn't see more of some of the animals that I hadn't seen before.  While darting a rhino one time we saw a leopard out in the middle of the day, which is extremely rare!

The animals we worked on the most were rhinos, which we took DNA samples from (hair, nail, tissue, horn, blood) notched the ears for identification from afar, and microchipped each horn and one on each side of the neck.  This allows for identification of where the horns originated from if the animal is poached and the horns are taken and recovered.  I got to do so many rhinos, and I even was able to go up into the helicopter once to see the darting from the air first hand!!  I saw so many amazing animals from the air (even a herd of elephants!).

I will have to put pictures up later because to be frank, I don't feel like it right now.  So I will put more details up then.

After I left Hoedspruit I traveled to Mozambique to visit my good friend Shay (who was my maid of honor) who is working for the Peace Corps in a small place just North of Xai-Xai, which is a few hours north of Maputo, the capital.  I was there during her birthday, which we spent eating and on the beach, and we had such a great time just hanging out together.

-When getting back to Perth I started 2nd semester of 2nd year a few days after landing, so there wasn't much relaxing, but I did it anyway.  Luckily I was exempt from one class (Immunology) so I only have 2 classes this semester, which has been amazing for getting things done!  Luckily the friend issue I had last semester has kind of resolved, which is what I hoped for.

I haven't been doing as much uni work as I should be with having this free time, what I have been doing is getting small things done, trying to get car issues done**, being personally trained by my personal trainer housemate, going to soccer practice, and fundraising with the soccer girls for Uni Games, which we are going to (in Adelaide this year) during the September study break (23-30).  Oh, and I've started going to adult gymnastics with some friends (or at least went to one so far) where I did my first front flip!!  David and I are going to take Lindy Hop dance lessons when the next session starts.

**On my second day in South Africa David got in a car accident.  Luckily everyone was ok, and it wasn't his fault, but it left our car undrivable.  David had been taking the bus to work everyday until I got back and we were able to go car shopping.  We bought a little hail-damage 2004 Hyundai Getz for $3999, which is a really good deal!  But we are still in the process of getting the insurance dealt with, hopefully we'll get most of the cost of the car back.

So, all in all, life has had some ups and downs, and we do really miss our family and friends back home, but we really love our new "family" here in Perth and we are having a really great time!

Hope that wasn't too much for you!  I'll put up some Africa photos soon, but until then if you have access to my Facebook I have a lot of them up there. :)

Love, Cassie