Saturday, September 28, 2013

Camping Weekend!

20 Girls crammed into the back of a closed bakkie... normal!
At the end of July we had a crazy weekend of camping outside of Luderitz, and it was awesome! We started our weekend with the GUTS Girls Group, camping at Stormvogels Bucht, which is a deserted [like everything down here] bay on the way out to Diaz Point. It used to be an old whaling station! This overnight camping trip was the result of months of work with my counterpart trying to secure funds and the location. We took 50 girls out into the middle of nowhere, and along the way almost lost Esme's car to the rocky no-road terrain [as in the car was literally stuck up a rockface and tilted over... it took a lot of skilled maneuvering to fix that]. During the course of the afternoon and morning the next day I, along with Maria, Esme, and Queenie led sessions on peer pressure, self-esteem, and the standard condom demonstrations. The most memorable part of the trip, for the girls at least, was the evening portion.

S'mores and Glow Sticks!

Once it got dark the girls realized that there really was no power or running water, and things got more interesting. After dinner Maria and I broke out the glowsticks, and were in the process of explaining how to use them and handing them out, when all of a sudden, I was mobbed by a stampede of girls trying to get into the room. They had seen a hyena on the mountain next to us! We put the flashlight on that area, and sure enough, there was a brown hyena observing us! Esme told them not to worry, it was just a springbok, and luckily most of them believed her. Brown hyenas aren't actually dangerous, they're scavengers, but it was still a bit of a shock! Then, as we started with the s'mores, a trio of jackals came close to our campfire! Wildlife survives even in the moonscape of the Luderitz area! The girls were thrilled to be trying s'mores for the first time, and overall the weekend was a big success!

The adventure on the dirt road continues!

The next day, two hours after getting back from our Girls Group trip, we headed back out of Luderitz to visit Sarah, our friend who lives at a permanent camp site in the middle of the southern veld. She is doing her PhD on large carnivore-human conflict, which is a big issue in Namibia. Southern Namibia is filled with private farms, and most of the farmers are under the impression that the leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs are killing their livestock. Sarah has camera traps set across a wide range of farms that record where the animals are, and her findings point to the fact that these animals are not generally responsible for killing the cattle. It's a really interesting topic, and Sarah is crazy awesome for living out in the bush on her own to work on it! We've wanted to visit her for the past year, but since she's in the middle of nowhere and we don't have access to a car [nor are volunteers allowed to drive], we've never been able to go! 

Cue a couple weeks prior to this, when we befriended a really fun guy from Walvis Bay, Trevor. He was totally game to head out into the veld for an overnight, so off we went, cooler filled with savannas, chops, and wors for a lekker braai in front of her tent! She really is in the middle of nowhere, but once we arrived it was absolutely gorgeous, right at sunset. She lives on the Namtib reserve, near the campsite of a nice lodge. You can see the red sand of the Namib nearby, and her site is also surrounded by mountains. We were able to go on a great morning walk the next day before we headed back to Luda. The only downer about where she lives is the extreme temperature - in the summer it's the hottest place in the country and in the winter it's the coldest. It was freezing cold when we were there!!! I was so lucky she had an extra sleeping bag for me to use over mine! Overall
the weekend was so much fun, despite me not being a super campy person!  
morning walk!

Luda Crew token jumping picture at the end of a great night in the veld!

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