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Entry # 29 F –Sixth week with the Penguins
Monday, October 30
VIBES CARD – Be Flexible.
I was supervisor of pen 8 with 110 birds. During our first tubing session, I noticed that there were some penguins with new feathers, but when you touched them, all the new feathers came off in your hand. I told Nola about them and she said that they would be cold and suggested that we bring the worst ones up to ICU for care. There are now 7 or 8 baldies in a pen in ICU. Hopefully, with quieter and warmer conditions, their new feathers will come back.
There were lots of opportunities to practice flexibility today. As we were walking out the door to rain, our guesthouse mate asked if we wanted a ride to work. YES! As I got to every hose, the sprayer mechanism was missing. Most of the people that I had assigned to help in the pen had their own ideas about how things should be done. We had to completely clean pen 8 as it had not been done in a while and we had 6 pens of birds to work around. The fish was not thawed at the time that morning feeding was supposed to begin. As we got to the afternoon fish feeding, most of the fish had been taken leaving some pens with none.
There was a huge delivery of fish today that will help. Even though we take daily counts of how many boxes we used yesterday, it is still more of an art than a science. Some boxes yield fish that is way too soft or too damaged to feed. As the birds get healthier, they eat more (a good thing for them, just hard to calculate how much each pen will eat on a given day).
The weekly schedule (which changes daily according to the number of birds, volunteers, staff, etc) is;
Monday – grade, bleed and weigh the pens. During this chick time, the team is getting through about 2 -3 pens (of the 6 major pens) on Monday.
Tuesday – normally a release day. – Normal duties including cleaning the extra pens of other birds.
Wednesday – alternate release day if Tuesday had bad weather. – Normal duties.
Thursday – second day a week to grade, bleed and weigh if needed. During chick time, the team tries to get to the pens that were not bled on Monday.
Friday – normal duties.
Saturday & Sunday– unless it is chick time, these days are considered lighter. Normally only one staff person is on duty, another on call and the volunteers simply do feeding, treatments and cleaning of their pens, no extra duties. It is a time to catch up on mats if we are behind, but generally, it is pretty light.
The Daily schedule – which again changes according to pen number, (age, weight and condition of the birds) and day of the week.
8:00 - meeting and assignments are put on the board
8:15 – begin morning treatments – usually darrows for the group – 30 to 45 minutes before the birds can have any other treatment.
9:00 – clean the pen – if you have a swimming pool, you may also have to clean that or help get the fish ready.
10:00 - fish feeding – One hour after the last one is fed until they can swim or have any other treatment
11:00 – clean or general maintenance
Noon – additional medical treatments as needed or same as 11:00
1:00 – lunch?? And get fish ready
2:00 – afternoon fish feeding
3:00 - see 11 am
4:00 - final fluids and medical treatments
5:00 - home?
All this can change when you have three sets of fluids and two feeds.
Tuesday, October 31
VIBES CARD – Share a Breath
Pen 7 with Senta as supervisor. We have had teams of helpers from Nature Conservation to help with the birds. Some have experience with feeding and tubbing, but most do not. Raymond is one that can help with feeding. I spent some time being plugged in with him today but had a breakthrough and realize, just because it isn’t my way, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work or get done on time.
Birds were very hungry and for the am feed, we had tiny fish in comparison that what we normally have. I called them minnows, but they weren’t really that small, it just took 2-3 three of them to make up a decent size fish. We are trying to limit fish in the am to only 4, as if we fill them up, they have two sets of fluids on top of that and they tend to start regurging. Even so, if I had a starving one in front of me, they got extra fish.
In the afternoon when we fed, they were taking 7-8 normal size fish with no problems.
Nola had the opposite problems to our am-sized fish as she said she had whales to feed the baldies in ICU.
Bleeding with Nola and Vanessa and a whole new batch of bites, bruises, nips and scratches from the little tykes!
Helped hold for water treatment for a cape gull (felt like a feather) and a cormorant (even smaller and lighter). Someone else put the tube down the throat. I didn’t feel up to holding and tubing for the first time. I learned something as I worked with these other birds – birds that fly have hollow bones, birds that don’t have heavy bones. The penguins feel like ironing hams compared to the gull and cormorant that feel as light as marshmallows.
Ride home with Senta and then cab to my last massage – During the back massage, I inventoried the entire body, organs and joints and thanked them for their participation in this year.
French Facial with Marta that was fabulous and left me wonderfully drowsy. Was a cool evening so put on the winter pj’s and slept very well!
Wednesday, November 1 – My last day at SANCOOB – Release?
VIBES CARD – Seek Solitude
We knew the day before that there might not be enough volunteers who could feed and tube so that it would be a heavy work day for the rest of us.
I was assigned to assist Karen in Pen 1, 140 birds, most that needed medications in additions to the 5 daily handling. In addition, we had the 45 skinniest who are on 6 treatments a day instead of the usual 5.
Today offered me lots of breakdowns and breakthroughs in very short cycles including stop forcing issues and my opinions, by adjusting my position during struggles they ease up, what is wrong with someone else is a mirror of yourself (have a little patience, tolerance and generosity), and one that I still struggle with - when a person talks non-stop, does not pause for my response and therefore hands out the wrong medication, they are to be understood not judged and complained about.
There was a boat release today of 16 birds including #200 and the gannet. This would allow more room in one of the pens that has access to the pool. The team is trying to get birds into these pens as soon as possible as that means they are more mature and it cuts down on the number of fluids that they need on a daily basis. Any reduction in the number of times they have to be caught and handled is always a good sign.
Late in the afternoon, I was passing pen 10 with the smaller pool and got to see the Penguin parade as they made their way into the pool that was being filled. Very cute as they stood in the low water waiting for it to get high enough for them to swim. They were so cute, I went for my camera and got to them on video. Film at 11
I rushed around saying goodbye and ran home to shower and catch a cab to the Africa Café for dinner with Nicole. It offered dishes from all over Africa. After you had sampled the entire menu, you were allowed to request as much as you wanted from any dish that you especially liked. We were both so full from our samples that we only asked for more bread, dip, appetizers and spinach. We ate so much that we sat feeling like ticks as we watched the drumming and singing. It was a wonderful way to celebrate my last day at SANCCOB and the final act of my time in Cape Town.
Thursday, November 2 – blog and do da day
I had thought I wanted to see a few more things in Cape Town, but by Monday of this week, I knew that I needed to back away from more on my list and take it easy for 2 days.
Slept in, doodled around and organized my stuff to get ready for packing. Will probably mail a few boxes home tomorrow. Had a lovely nap, and then joined Sasha and Theresa for a trip to the grocery store for supplies for our braai (bbq) tonight.
We began at 7:00 and I excused myself at 9:00, just as the karaoke machine was being fired up.
Friday, November 3 – Pack, packages to mail, voted, lunch and dinner desert out
More packing today and off to the Postnet to send off my boxes. When she totaled all my boxes, it was over $800 in courier charges. They could not go cheaper from this location. I opted to take the largest ones to the P.O. After another taxi ride with my boxes, I finally got them sent for only $225.
Walked through the grocery store to buy goodies for the workers at SANCCOB and stopped at work to get a few last photos. I few more hugs and goodbyes and then off to lunch with Nicole.
My ballot was delivered today via FedEx thanks to Karen Stickland and I voted and called for a pick up within 1 hour.
The rest of the day was packing, blogging and dessert and coffee with friends from work.
Saturday, November 4 – Fly to JoBurg
Raining as we drove to the airport.
No problems on the flight – full flight 2 hours
Picked up by the Pretoria Backpackers for a 35-minute drive. Hostel is in an old mansion. I had thought that I would begin at the park on Sunday, but I was told that I would be picked up on Monday. With a day off, I investigated the two tours I was interested in – Soweto or the Cradle of Humanity – a paleontology site in the Northern suburbs. Only the Soweto tour was going, so I signed up. I had the afternoon to explore so I got the local map and found that the art museum was only three blocks away. I had been told that Pretoria was safe enough during the day, but not a night. I knew that I would be home in time as I was still pooped.
The art museum was very good. I went to the local shop and picked up some snacks and stuff for a light dinner and finished reading the Shadow of the Wind. It was excellent. I can’t wait to discuss it with the book group in Spain.
Sunday, November 5 – Day off – Soweto Tour
Guide Sam from the hostel was in his 40’s, very jovial and worked hard to keep us on schedule.
Our tour began and it looked like we would be only 4 of us. During our drive, we had a call and it turned out we had to pick up 6 more. On the way to pick up the 6, it turned out we had to pick up 8. Therefore, we had to move into an even larger vehicle. We were very delayed in starting, as we had to wait for an ever increasingly larger vehicle.
There was a lovely couple from England doing a year away, Eve and Antosh and we exchanged ideas on places to visit and where to stay in London.
Highlights of JoBurg – drove into the city proper, saw some historical buildings and the Mandela Bridge. Frankly, this is the part of the tour that I was the least excited about and that it went quickly, I was fine with that. The city is surrounded by former gold mines so there are huge piles of sand. Although some of the mines still have gold, they are no longer allowed to blast, as they are concerned about the stability of the tall buildings in JoBurg.
Soweto – (The South Western Townships) home to about 4 million is actually 61 different townships with 4-5 different levels of housing - informal settlement, original building form the 50’s, hostels, civil servants housing, Beverly hills. Some of the neighborhoods looked like what we would find in the US in the suburbs.
We only had 15 minutes of a stroll into one of the informal settlements with a guide, Sydney who has lived there in for 11 years. They recently added taps in the area and chemical toilets. They do not have electricity and cook on Parafin stoves and use candles for light.
Hector Pieterson Museum – June 16, 1976, Hector Pieterson was the first casualty in the student’s peaceful demonstration against having Afrikaans as the official language in schools for all secondary students. The museum was amazing and in combination with the Robben Island and Township tour, helped to understand the apartheid era. As our time was so limited as we started the tour so late, I bought books at most of the museums in order to fill in the gaps.
Noble Prizewinners street- The former house of Nelson Mandela is now a museum (which we did not have time to visit) is on the same street where the intersection where Hector Pieterson was killed. Just down the road, is also the huge house of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Someone asked why as they were black and living in Soweto, why did they have walls around their houses and alarm systems. Sam indicated that before democracy, although Tutu was never arrested or charged, he was highly controversial and he did what he had to to keep his family safe.
Lunch – Nado’s chicken – took a long time, but it was good. I had a sweet peri peri chicken wrap.
Apartheid Museum – Another amazing museum that was very powerful. One pictorial section based on a photographers book the House of Bondage, was especially thought provoking. The book was not available in the bookstore, but I will try and find it once I get home. The most compelling display was the one after Apartheid that showed the first election and the determination on people’s faces to cast their ballots. Put’s the US election percentages to shame.
Again, the most amazing fact that has come out of the evolution from Apartheid and before the democracy is that there was no recrimination, no revenge on the white South Africans. F.W. DeClerk (sp?) , the PM that freed all the political prisoners and negotiated with Mandela for the end of Apartheid, wanted to hand him the reins when he was elected. Mandela said that DeClerk would train him and he ended up with DeClerk as one of his two deputy presidents. The more I learn about Mandela, the more amazing I find him.
Botha, who was the PM during the Apartheid era, died this week so the flags were flying at half-mast. The article in the paper said that the Monster is Dead.
I got back to the hostel at 5:00 pm and had been told that there was a braii for the ItoI volunteers at 7:00pm. As I arrived, I was told that I had missed orientation. I had never had an ItoI orientation at my other placements, so I looked around to see if they could fill me in.
We leave tomorrow at 10:00. I went to bed and set the alarm for 8:00. The power kept going off in the mansion and I suspected that my computer might be overloading the system. I unplugged it, and the power continued to fluctuate.