Sunday, December 15, 2013
Hello from the other side of the world! My flight was long--babies crying--and the drive from Windhoek was hot--broken a/c--and gasoline spilled in the trailer where our luggage was, but all of that nonsense and frustration drained away as soon as I drove through the gates of Harnas. And it only took me two days to figure out the internet here, so I think I'm all set.
My good friend Cornelia, from Munich, joined me in Namibia, and our bungalows are next to each other, so we are already having lots of fun.
My African dog Pickles greeted me as soon as I got here. I stood on the lapa lawn and called out her name, and soon she came running, bouncing up and down like a springbok. She belongs now to a man who works here named Conrad and I try not to steal her outright when I get here, but Pickled DID come scratching at my door in the middle of my first night, so of course I let her in and she slept next to me in bed. I found out she nearly died from some illness that spread through Harnas this year, so I'm especially glad to see her and find out she's all right.
Marieta looks wonderful and seems so happy now that Harnas is all hers again--after struggling to get it back from greedy developers who wanted the Harnas name. There's a whole new book in that story, I tell you. She's carrying around her newest baby baboon--Ollie--so tiny! Ollie came to me almost immediately and they were astonished because she hardly goes to anyone but Marieta. That made me so happy and I didn't even mind when she peed on me at dinner.
Great news! There's a new baby cheetah named Tyson. He's only been here about 2 weeks and is still wild because the volunteers are scared of him--he hisses a lot, but it's all show. Marieta asked me to tame him while I'm here. Hallelujah! I couldn't have picked a better assignment and I soon got Cornelia dedicated to it also. I've been in his enclosure with him four times so far for about an hour each time, and now he'll take food from my hand and even let me scratch his head. There's a lot of hissing involved, but as I said, it's all posturing. It's amazing to me how much I've learned about cheetahs over the last 7 years--their sounds and their body language. It's all about gaining his trust and spending lots of time just sitting with him and talking. We also play pounce with a stuffed animal. Apparently I'm the first person to touch him. How happy do you think that made me? Soon I'll have him purring. I'll keep you informed. That's his picture up top.
So much else! I visited Atheno the 3-year-old cheetah, whom I adore, and he purred nonstop while licking me all over. I just wrapped my arms around him and buried my head under his chin.
So many babies to visit and get reacquainted with. The days will go fast. But I'm home.