Three summers


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Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Mossel Bay
October 2nd 2012
Published: October 2nd 2012
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Its a SHARK!!!Its a SHARK!!!Its a SHARK!!!

Half a breach and baitgrab
Cape Town

Well I’m back on travelling feet after a rather eventful summer which will be reviewed below. But first I have to say, I love being back! And to make everyone back home somewhat jealous in their dreadful decline towards winter I can inform you that summer is amazing with shiny sun and nice temperatures!

Anyway let´s recap to where I last left you. The last entry ended in hardship and pain after wich I caught an airplane down to Johannesburg. I can inform you that side effects of painkillers, anti diuretics and too little liquids can result in nausea and dry hulking which was the main theme of my three hour flight. Well on site I got a taxi to drive me straight to Johannesburg bus terminal in hopes of catching the daily train to Cape Town which I missed it by 30 minutes. Bummer thought I but maybe next time. I decided instead to catch a bus down there since staying in Joburg was not that appealing. Got on the bus and started to gradually feel better as the liquid balance in my body was replenished. Nice trip of 14 hours to get down to Cape
FoodFoodFood

Well if you throw that at me don't be surprised when I grab it...
Town where I checked into Castle backpackers. Wonderful place, basically a family house rebuilt to suit accommodation complete with living room and kitchen. I spent a couple of days browsing around Cape Town trying to get my legs back into working order. Beautiful, close to the sea and very clean as guidebooks says, it came as quite a chock after traveling around poorer countries for some time to get thrown back into “”westerly” standards.

Sharp and beautiful!

After four days however it was time to get my pretty little behind moving again, this time to start a “volunteer” project with Great White Shark projects in Gansbaii. I got picked up by Rudy, a nice very chatty person working as driver for the company making the two hour drive one way at least once per day. Along with me in the car were Angie, Hanna and later Geoffrey who also was joining in on the project. So the first time you do this will be as a complete tourist which came as a bit of a surprise. So when we arrived in Gansbaii, after a brief briefing, we got on the boat and were giddy as children at the
BreachesBreachesBreaches

Got some decent partial breaches, this was the closest to full
thought of seeing Great White Sharks! And sharks we got, they arrived to the boat almost before we cast anchor. I think we counted 13 sharks on the first day circling the boat. The feeling of just seeing these 3-4 meter shapes moving through the blue water on a perfectly calm and sunny day was to say the least magical. And after this to change into wetsuits and jump into the cage and see the beauties up close was… WOW!!! A close encounter is the least to be said when the beast come sweeping by the cage looking at you with their curios dark blue eyes.

The work

Second day reality started with the work. Getting routine was nice after simply travelling around doing what I liked. Might sound a bit strange but to have a purpose and get up at 6a.m is great. Our duties included preparing for the day by loading and fixing bait, arrange wet suits for the clients and gas for the boat. Well onboard we were the service staff for the tourist, helping them with practical stuff, answering questions and patting them on the head when they started spraying their stomach content
Meanwhile in the cageMeanwhile in the cageMeanwhile in the cage

people go AHHH!!!
over the side of the boat... Also two people were assigned to collect data on which animals we saw and note any specific behaviors as part of a larger database to cover re sights and possible migratory behavior of the sharks.

I soon found my favorite position at the aft, mixing, smashing and throwing rotten fish into the water to attract the beasts. This was a wonderful spot to view the sharks, not only because you thrown them the food, but also because they are attracted by electrical pulses sent out by the engines. This gave cause for very curious behavior of anything standing there giving ample opportunities of observing spy hopping and test chewing of the platform some few centimeters from your toes. This position was somewhat stinky but you cannot imagine how soft your hands got after being soaked in oily fish water for a couple of hours, the stink will wash away, don´t worry…

Horseback riding on quad bikes while zipping wine at the southern most point of Africa…

Well back on land the volunteers had their own house with living room, kitchen, study and bedrooms. One thing that became apparent very soon was
The crewThe crewThe crew

or rather the volunteers
that houses are built differently down here compared to home. There is no insulation in the walls and thus the fireplace was a nice comfort because the nights got really cold. We had a couple of opportunities to make trips around the area since the company organized trips for us on days when the weather was to bad to go to sea or if there were no place for al volunteers on the boat because of many costumers.
Well like the headline says we went on a couple of daytrips during our days of the boat. Quad biking was pretty standard, machines were a bit too weak (125cc when used to 500cc). However it was very nice to be out on dirt tracks, the weather provided us with some small downfall but otherwise good fun.

Horseback riding on the other hand was wonderful, third time in my life on these four legged fearsome fookers… As usual we started with some troth and walk and generally comfortable riding once I found the rhythm bouncing correctly. For some reason tisstles are horse candy and they were impossible to keep from them. Apart from that the animals were very docile simply
Party peopleParty peopleParty people

In Joburg
following the one ahead of them. This off course caused some issues because as soon as the one in front of you changed pace so did the thing between your legs. And to say the least the finish was amazing, Hanna (yes this is on your conscious) asked if we might canter the last bit and after some discussion we got the okay even though only two of us had done so before. I was not one of those and this experience left me slightly bruised, terrified and exhilarated with adrenaline spraying everywhere since I thought I was going to fall off! We also enjoyed some nice vine tasting at different distilleries as well as a visit to Cape Agullus, the southernmost part of Africa. Nice sites and after a couple or more tastings in a row you can definably describe the mind as slightly fussy.

Johan the buck tumbler

And now we get to the gruesome part of this story, it somewhat also included work but on a local rural level. The shark people I was with arranged one day a week were the children of the local village collect trash and bring to a set up
From the carFrom the carFrom the car

at Lapalosa wildlife encampment
place. In exchange for cleaning up the place we gave them some useful and/or fun stuff. The system was point based and depending on how much they brought in they got to choose from different categories of stuff ranging from simple toys up to clothes. We then sorted the trash and drove it off to the dump with the bucky (South African name for pickup truck). On the last trip for the day we transported three constructions sacs of plastic bottles, rather light as you might understand even thought they were big. To keep them in place me and Angie were seated on the back to keep them in place, however in 50km/h these sacs liked the wind a bit too much. The result was a freakish offloading of two sacs due to wind, one of which decided to go through the place I was seated and thus knocking me of with it. Slightly surprised my catlike reflexes were not quite on top and even though I did like al action heroes from the movies i.e. rolling upon impact I got a bit banged up. When the tumble was over I was rather quick up on my feet again, scrapes
Prorridge timeProrridge timeProrridge time

and happy to get that sweet banana flavored stuff
and bruises all over, right foot and left hand felt a bit twisted and hurt when moved. But with the adrenaline rushing we continued on schedule after wich I was dropped at the house. Here I was patched up by a rather chocked Hannah who had stayed at home this day. I can just tell you that when the adrenaline lets go of you after this kind of happening you shake rather uncontrollably for a long time, kind of creepy. But anyway after some cleaning of scrapes from head to toe (literally since I had marks in my scalp and on the tips of my toes…) and some bandaging of hand and foot it was time for an al night bender since this was Angies last day. Alcohol is a god painkiller and I felt rather fine, came home again around 4 a.m. to wake up two hours later and get ready for the morning boat trip. After feeling around for a while I decided data collecting was my task for the day since that was the least moving I could do. Stubborn as some people are, after saying goodbye to Angie, I had to make the second trip as
Banas are for mokeys!Banas are for mokeys!Banas are for mokeys!

yep and they love them
well. However when this trip was coming to an end my foot felt like it was growing out of the boot so the decision was made to head for the clinic in Gansbaii to check it out. After a quick survey he said that X-ray was highly recommended but there were no machine there so I and Moos headed for Hermanus and about an hour later I was admitted with a broken scaphoid in the left hand and two metatarsals of and displaced in my right foot. Bad way to go but suffice it to say that an angel was on my shoulder that day that I made it with nothing worse than that.
To skip the boring details of the proceedings of hospital vs. insurance dialog the decision was finally made that I would be sent to back home to Sweden since my insurance would not allow me to get surgery on my foot in SA. This made me rather disgruntled since I thought it was useless whit such minor injuries but so be the case since had I stayed the insurance company would not have paid for my care. The flew me home business class and I
Valve was wrongValve was wrongValve was wrong

this is an actual ant lion
can tell you that that was surreal, not that I would ever pay for it myself but it was an interesting experience.

The homecoming

Well back home after not getting my check in luggage with me and nearly missing the counting flight due to the enormity of Shipool airport, Amsterdam despite a rather fast electric car getting me to the next flight (also they did a drug swipe of my cask which delayed me somewhat…) I was greeted by an ambulance at Landvetter to take me straight to the hospital. Here they concluded that my hand was wrongly set in its cask and redid that, also that my foot was nothing they would risk operating on since too much other thing can go wrong in foot surgery. It would heal without lasting disabilities, the toes will simply be a bit crocked and it will be swollen for up to a year.
So back home with a sollidified arm and crutch without anyone but my family knowing about me flying home, this was going to provide me with some fun at least. Hilarious to show up at friends home and say hi when they think you a bit
RinohRinohRinoh

rather close
further south, especially since you skyped with said person from my parents, pretending to still be in SA. The face when she saw me was priceless, pretty close to those carton figures as they drop their chins onto the floor, mohahaha!!!

Anyhow this summer back home was spent mostly visiting friends and relatives, taking it rather slow and seeing the world from a new perspective. Somehow I enjoyed being unable to walk without a crutch since it forced me to slow down my normal pace markedly. Also had time to work at the Helsingborg city festival as radio communicator and suddenly the desire to work with more festivals was back, we’ll see were that ends…

And life brightens again…

Well after almost three months in Swedish summer the cask popped of, leaving an amazingly sexy tan, and I was cleared for travel. Took me two weeks further to get the tickets sorted but now I'm back baby!
Started this time in what is rumored to be the most dangerous town in South Africa, not really feeling threatened here, noting happened… Except that I had a wonderful time. Meet up with two people from UK and two local guys and we headed out pretty much every night and made the city of Joburg just a little more unsecure. I had five days to hang around before my project at Lapalosa Wildlife Encampment was scheduled to start. Arrived Monday (20120917) after half a day on the road, saw a bunch of streaking grassfires on the way, neat lines of fire burning entire mountainsides.

The camp

Since we arrived rather late we simply got settled in and went to sleep, but the next day started at 0630 with monkey and pig feeding. Gorgeous little tree climbers, 14 of them, waiting outside the house in the morning for their porridge, apples and banana. They were Vervet Monkeys that in one way or another had been taken care of after injuries or sickness. Since the place is located 1500 meters a.s.l they have no natural food source during the winter which is why food is provided.
After this the days here have varied in things to do, walking the grounds of the reserve collecting old barbed wire and fence pools from previous land divisions is one of the tougher things since we are out for eight hours minimum
Zebra crossingZebra crossingZebra crossing

Knew the name originated from somewhere
dragging wire and metal poles under a broiling African sun, 30 degrees in the shadow and not a breath of moving air. But it’s rewarding at the end of the day when your body aces and you crash on the bed to sleep for a couple of hours before new task are laid before you. Other stuff we spent our time on doing was creosote painting of fences (stinky business, you could almost feel the cells in your lungs going malignant as you painted…), pig-proofing the garbage bins (harder than it sounds cause Bella, damn piece of bacon, was very persistent). Also we cleaned out the pond of fallen trees and other debris clogging up the dam, looks really nice now compared to before when the leaches swam between bubbling methansulphide bubbles. Good place to get into with a handheld saw to cut out the dead trees. And the most interesting thing is that that comment is really not even slightly sarcastic, I simply love doing dirty strange work…
In general I can say this about this place, it amazingly beautiful. Many hiccups still remain to correct before the place reaches its full potential but that also part of
Giraff crossingGiraff crossingGiraff crossing

don't have the same ring to it...
the fun, contributing to restoring and improving a growing protected habitat. Lots of areas to explore, walking among zebras, giraffes and wilder beast to mention a few. It is a good place to get closer to nature and away from technology and everyday stress.

Kruger national park

For the last weekend of my stay we went to Kruger for some real game driving. Second time I’m here and this round was definitely better even though not much can measure up to the plains of Serengeti. However we were extremely lucky with seeing rhinos, seemed like we came upon them at every second turn during the Saturdays drive, including some that were not but two meters from the car. Also we had a nice close encounter with a elefant wo got on the wrong side of our car comparing to the rest of his herd. He got a bit paniced, started trumpeting wildly and ran past the vehicle. Simply a show though but rather intimidating when this beast start rushing towards you. Spotted a lot of other beasts, some lions and at the very end of the second day we got to see a juvenile leopard. This completed the
Lapalosa gangLapalosa gangLapalosa gang

at the final day of Kruger
spotting of big five and made us al very happy, even though we later decided we only saw the big 4,5 since the leopard was not that big… But fur a fun fact, you know al these denominations of animal aggregations like flock, pride, murder and so on. Did you know it was called a couch of wildebeest?

But now my time at Lapalosa is come to an end and I head towards Mossel Bay to partake in an internship researching marine macro predators, well as you might guess buy this it’s time for more sharks! Just a minor 17 hours bus ride between me and the beasties…

Well stay tuned for more stories as this traveler goes towards his third summer this year, hell yeah!

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3rd October 2012

Fantastiskt Johan, BCOT som vi brukar säga till våra barn....Betyder tror du?
3rd October 2012

Heh, låter som om du kommer bosätta dig i Afrika och aldrig komma hem igen :) Blev lite skraj när du berättade om hur du stog några meter från hajarna med oljade händer.... Hur är stjärnhimlen där nu? Kolla in Jupiter på kvällshimlen och Venus på morgonhimlen vet jag. Och ta gärna fler himmelsbilder om du får tillfälle! Ta hand om dig! Andreas

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