Last week we visited a South African school called Southern Cross, whose educational philosophy is based on developing a deeper understanding of nature. We learned about their grey water system, and admired their thatched roofs which blended into the environment. The pinnacle of the morning was hearing from their board member, Yuri, who was one of the only white Afrikaner members of the African National Congress (Mandela's party) under Apartheid. His stories of being labeled a terrorist by the government and jailed during that period held the students captive. After peppering Yuri with questions about South African history and how such a violent regime was able to come to power, we were taken to see two black rhinos before they were released into the wild. There are only 3,000 black rhino left in the world, and by the end of the day we would see three! The students learned about rhino poaching and spoke with the guards who slept in the bush every night protecting the few black rhino in the area. And this was all before lunch!
In the afternoon we went to Moholoholo, an animal reserve in Mpumalanga province where we learned about the endangered species of the region and experienced up-close encounters with them. Molly had a vulture land on her arm whose wingspan was wider than she is tall. Juliana and Eleanor touched the lips of a black rhino, and Megan rested her hand on the paw of a leopard just after Lindsay hand-fed it chunks of meat! We all stroked the back and graceful tail of a cheetah. We met a famous honey-badger named Houdini who is a master escape-artist. Peri, with camera in hand, captured it all.
The group spent 2 1/2 days on a game drive in Kruger and we saw almost every animal you can imagine, from a leopard crossing the road, to three prides of lion resting on rocks, to three cheetah hanging out after a kill. Science class occurred non-stop as the students gathered data about the animals and made notes in their field journals. We waited on our big blue truck as a herd of 100 Cape buffalo crossed in front of us. Giraffe were on all sides, and elephants too. We saw hippo, crocodile, eagles, hyena, impala, and kudu. Some students have tasted biltong, the local jerky that is made out of springbok, kudu and impala.
So much has happened, and the girls are quite busy! Coming up, we are looking forward to celebrating Ariela's quinceanera.