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Night Tracking Big Game

On Sunday night, we booked a night tracking tour seeking big game.
Big Game are wild elephant, lions, leopards, rhinosaurus, cape buffalo.
The phrase was coined by white hunters and describes the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.

Well, the night started out when we met Fernando's match in the distracted driving award category.
Owlfred (soon to be known as Owlful Owlfred) was our driver.
He talked about what we were going to do and all the warnings about the trip....but no one could understand him. Especially the couple from Bulgaria who sat across from us.
I ended up using sign language to explain the dangers and show the escape hatch in the truck so we could hide underneath it in case we were attacked by a big one.
Next to owlfred was his 'assistant'. She was not introduced, did not speak and sat next to the drivers seat with her cell phone in hand. Throughout the trip, we couldn't figure out her role. So, naturally we started to 'interpret' the comments that she was making to him in their own language...it got a bit rowdy to say the least.

Upon arrival in the game park, Owlfred took on a large spotlight in one hand and the radio in the other hand, driving in standard needing to shift, he managed to manuever the HUGE open game truck over bumpy dirt roads in the pitch dark ....perhaps using his feet to steer? Of course we made many editorial comments about how he was pulling this off and the various appendages he could have been utilizing.
We sat right behind him and I offered to use the spotlight, seeing as I was the first and main spotter of eyes in the bush.
He seems downright pissed about my success at seeing the game.

There was one point where another truck saw lions, so we zoomed off to connect. I'm talking ZOOMED and remember this is in the dark and with 'look ma, no hands" at the wheel.

In the first hour we saw many impala, large owls, impala, gnu, impala, bunnies, impala, zebra, impala, hyena, and of course impala. A highlight was several HUGE rhinos who crossed the road. At that time, we noticed that owlfred did put his hands on the wheel because these guys were not planning on manuevering around us. Regarding elephants, we did notice what trackers look for and it was BIG and fresh. but no elephant. So I enclose a picture for those who may be so inclined to know what it looks like. (see below)

After the first hour, Fernando decided that this was not the trip he had hoped for. So he slept. When he woke up, he was angry that it wasn't over yet. So, he asked the guy how long this was going to last. Poor owlfred told him that we should stay out for at least 2 1/2 hours. As if owlfred was not distracted enough with his ADD skills, Fernando insisted that he tell him the time because he didn't have a watch. A discussion about what time it was escalated. The final words being Fernando yelling "I don't have a watch" Needless to say, it was time to turn back.

We really needed a visit to the Shebeen after that ride.
Shebeen is a local workers pub on the resort where they go to unwind after their shifts. We had heard about it and found out that we were welcome even though we were outsiders. We took a Palace car past the cultural village into a long dark road. We heard music in the bush and walked up a path to find a great little shanty with pool tables and dart boards and people mixing it up with the workers. Here we entered a pool game pitting Maritius, East India, South Africa, England, and Namibia against us. Maritius were sharks who turned out to have brought their own cue. The two rand entry (30 cents) was quickly lost.

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Posted by travelDIAS 23:41 Comments (0)

Wrapping up the Race

Well final results of the race are in and it is really a smash.
Out of 2575 birds sent, only 641 managed to make it home. Sadly King Arthur was not on of them.
Here it is Monday morning and birds continue to straggle in. Poor things. they really must have been blown off course. These birds truly have a heart to get themselves 'home'.
But as the only Canadians in attendence, Fernando was happy to accept the Country Challenge on behalf of Claude Rothgiesser from Toronto.
We'll have to find a way to get the trophy to him....Fernando thinks that it may take a long route through a shelf on his pigeon shed for a while.

On Sunday, an auction of winning birds was held.
It was to start at 9 and include the first 100 birds - but only 50 had arrived by the end of race day.
So they delayed to 10 then 10:30 then 10:45 before they actually got going. We watched in dismay to see birds continue to slowly come in during the morning, dropping on their lofts and then letting others come in ahead of them because they were so tired.
By 10:30 a total of 295 birds had returned. That is a loss rate of almost 90%.

Overall the event was fun and full of excitement. We met many new friends from all over the world and can truly see why others come out to these events regularly.
As it turns out, they were happy to snap pics of us to show the international flavour of the race.

Pictures from the opening bbq dinner Click for Pigeon Page Pictures
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Pictures from the Awards Banquet include Fernando accepting for the Country Challenge Click for Pigeon Page Pictures[Right
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Time to say totsiens, and 'buy a donkey' (bya danke) to our new friends and continue on our journey.

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Posted by travelDIAS 23:11 Comments (0)

Canada Represented in Winners Circle

Yestersday's Million Dollar Pigeon Race was a smash.
Birds straggled in with heavy rain and wind impeding their flight.
This left the way open for all contenders to show their strength.
By 6:00 pm only 25 birds had shown.

And Guess what! Canada came through.
Below, Fernando accepts the trophy for the Country Challenge
He has been photographed, interviewed and drank many glasses of wine in celebration.

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Posted by travelDIAS 23:01 Comments (1)

The Pigeon World

We've spent some time at the Pigeon venues and connected with a group of Australians.
(Looks like we might have company in August!)
This is a world with its own celebrities.
We were invited to connect with Dr. Al from New Jersey who got the highest amount for his bird in last years auction at the Florida race.
He and his wife are heading to Cape Town from here and we'll be going also. (The beauty of couchsurfing is that there are no reservations or deposits) Klemens, from Czech Republic is last years winner. He speaks no English but his daughter is with him to translate.
A true highlight was meeting the queen's loft manager. Even the Queen of England has birds in this race.
He gave Fernando a band from the Royal Loft...we are giddy with the celebrity of it all.
People here carry around business cards because this is actually a big part of their lives.
Can't seem to find any Canadian accents in the crowds, but we are still listening for the word "eh!" in the murmuring of the groups.
Everyone is friendly and we are diving in with both feet.
Today is the day of the big race.
2600 birds were sent out and King Arthur is among them.
There are 70 birds in total from Canada....better odds than the 649! Weather is cloudy with a slight breeze from the Northeast - a head wind for the racers.
Expecting the birds back around 3 pm.

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Posted by travelDIAS 22:41 Comments (0)

Riding Elephants

This morning we woke early to go out with local game trackers to view wildlife from the top of an elephant.
The animals were orphans rescued from Zambia where culling took place when the animals because numerous and destructive.
We rode Cherish who was a scrapper male who had lost his tusk while fighting with another male.
They needed to plug the tusk and clean it out much like a cavity in a tooth. The ride was well worth the early wake.
We saw many birds, rhinos, zebras, but the giraffes were hiding.
At one point our ride decided that it was time to eat and we clung for life while he ripped a small tree out of the ground.

I feel like a hobbit.
After we had second breakfast, we went for first nap.
What a life!

Tonight we go to Valley of the Waves for a BBQ for the Pigeon Race.

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Posted by travelDIAS 03:51 Comments (0)

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