Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A wealth of information

I’ve just got back from a few days in the bush helping out with the examining for some trainee safari guides.

Man, I wish I could divulge some of the corkers that were said, but I hardly think that’s ethical (or fair). I have done this on and off for – oh my god, really? – almost 10 years now, examining potential safari guides. And I always feel massively inadequate. My knowledge isn’t up to scratch. I’m so rusty. Am I the right person for this? Who am I to put these poor guys through this etc etc. Of course if I’m totally honest I also feel secretly important and full of myself, but that usually only lasts the first two candidates and then my ego goes to sleep and the rest of me just glazes over.

I always try really really hard to make the poor wreck feel comfortable, but I fear that I actually make them waay more nervous. In a different way. I guess it takes their mind off the exam and they start frantically thinking on which tree to climb if I turn really weird. The lunatic on board. I offer them water of they have a dry mouth, grin manically at them. Nod emphatically at their stories about the white browed sparrow weaver (its only the 180th time I’ve heard it), laugh hysterically at their stupid stupid stupid jokes (that I’ve ALSO heard 180 times). The monkey sitting on the branch “ah look, a branch manager” ha ha ha. The zebra crossing the road “ah, zebra crossing” or “Is a zebra black and white or white and black” That bird calling is saying ‘work ha-arder’ in the day and ‘drink laa-ager’ after 6. The buffalo weaver is one of the small five. We also have the rhino beetle, the leopard tortoise, the ant lion and the elephant shrew” Ha ha ha ha ha. HA!

Ah, I am too harsh. Of course there are lots of fabulous ones too, who take you on a fantastic and exciting journey and infect you with their enthusiasm, and when they come along they are a joy. Frankly when you hear about the same baobab tree for the 10th time in 2 days you kindov loose the will. And then BAM you get a sparkling gem and it makes it all worth while.

I have chucked away most of my notebooks from past practical exams over the years but they are littered with things like:

“No, I can’t see the zebra coz you’ve parked us BEHIND A TREE”
“WHAT! A squirrel doesn’t eat MICE!”
“Oh my god! Those are CUBS, not a mating pair!”
“there’s nothing wrong with those binoculars, I tested them myself”
“you have GOT to be joking”
“that is NOT a male warthog”
drive us into the ditch why don’t you?
or just plain


When I did my exams, geez, more than 10 years ago I was a nervous wreck. The paper was fine, but the practical was a nightmare. Since it was a really small community I knew all the examiners really well and they all kept saying to me “Oh, you’ll be FINE! You’ve lived here all your life. You know everything already”. Which was my problem exactly. What if I DO do really badly, then you’re REALLY gonna think I’m an idiot!” But it went without a hitch (aside from a misidentified kingfisher – give me a break!). The next year I did my walking exam (you have be a driver guide for a year before you can take your walking safari guide exam) and the examiners thought that I was one of them, which caused a bit of confusion! I wonder if I’d just carried on, pretending to be an examiner, would they have noticed? Anyway. Bla bla bla.

Had a great few days. So fab to be back in the bush again, hear lions and hyenas at night. Wake up at dawn with the first birdsong.

In the past few days we saw:
A dead elephant, lots of living elephants (plus babies), frisky giraffe, frisky waterbuck, frisky doves, some dik dik, a hippo. Ah man I could go on and on and on! Let me give them to you in collective nouns. I love collective nouns. We saw:

A wake of vultures
A tower of giraffes
A stand of flamingos
A patch of flowers
Drove of cattle (Maasai cattle just outside the national park – one about to give birth)
A herd, a memory or a parade of elephants
A covey of grouse
A deceit of lapwings
A pride, sault, sowse or troop of lions
A tribe or a troupe of monkeys
A company of parrots
A sounder of pigs (warthogs) with their babies (a waltz of piglets) – that make me squeal
A herd, a zeal or a dazzle of zebras
A congress of baboons
A filibuster of buffalo
A prettying of doves
A steal of magpies

And much much more! All in 5 days…

The joy of it all

And there were some sparkling gems too......


Mud in the City said...

That just makes me want to be in Africa!

And I love the collective nouns, a dazzle of zebra sound as though they are just about to head out for a girls' night out in a dodgy club. Brilliant!

Dumdad said...

One of my favourite collective nouns is a murder of crows (which was also the title of a film starring Cuba Gooding).

Or a prickle of hedgehogs or a shrewdness of apes.

For bloggers?

A botch of bloggers?

tam said...

a boggle of bloggers.
Love it Mo, and don't forget
"I think perhaps it might have been a dove.."

Miranda said...

Mud - ha! It does indeed. Love it.

Dumdad - they're great aren't they? A blag of bloggers?

Tam - Ah! I'd forgotten about that one! Ha HAAA!!

Miranda said...

In fact if I remember correctly it was "I might have thought it could have been a dove"!

Janelle said...

welcome back mo. about bloody time. don't think you can just keep buggaring off into the wild blue younger pretending to someone "professional" and leave me here for longer than two days, running and shopping on my own...jesus. get a grip woman. flip. xxxx! YAY! so happy you are back!! XXX j

aims said...

Wow! These are incredible pics Miranda. Just your everyday life are they? Sigh.

david mcmahon said...

What a great post. Thank you for the comment and the nomination for Post of the Day.

I've enjoyed my visit to your blog, pictorially and in the reading of your work.

Miranda said...

Janelle thank you and I won't do it again, 'kay? Shopping Monday? Need some blog material. Eee careful what you wish for!

Aims, thanks. Indeed it is - I am blessed!

David - wow, this coming from you. Thanks!

CrazyCath said...

This is what you do each day? Wow. You are so blessed. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Great writing. Great education!

Over from David's

Louise said...

Came from Authorblog to check out today's posts. What a week! I love your list of collective nouns!