HI, and welcome to my blog! I am a field guide in a private game reserve in South Africa and below you will find stories and pictures of my amazing job!

October 12, 2011

Namibian Nuptials

The wedding was truly magical.  I have to say that originally I had harboured reservations about getting married in the middle of nowhere in a desert, but now that the day has passed, I am grateful for Rika’s decision.  There is no way that I can put into words the magnificence of the country of Namibia…but I will try!  The road from Windhoek to Wolverdans lodge was long and arduous but against the back drop of the indescribable scenery, and the anticipation of the days ahead, the journey flew by.  More than half of the 7 hour marathon was spent driving on gravel roads and bearing in mind we were in a rented minibus, I’m sure that some of us will have standing visits to the osteopath in years to come!  In all fairness though, the roads were in excellent condition despite rainfall up about 400% on the annual average.  Any discomfort we might have felt was soon dispelled as we marveled at the terrain as it rolled past.

To say that the area was unpopulated would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions.  We passed perhaps 1 car everyone 100 miles, no shops and no petrol stations for hours on end.  The journey took longer than expected and by the time we entered the Namib-Rand national park, the sun was beginning to set in the great expanse of the Namibian sky.  The expected terrain of vast expanse of red sand had been replaced with a blanket of grass in light of the rainfall and in its wake, had brought with it a multitude of wildlife.  These desert areas often cause game populations to dissolve far and wide in their struggle to find enough resources to survive but we were greeted by herds and herds of Oryx and Springbok as the sandy road meandered deeper into the park.  Spectacular silhouettes drifted past our car, backlit by the fading light as we pulled into the car park.

Wolverdans itself is a rustic camp set atop a huge sand dune against the back drop of a jagged mountain range.  The following morning, upon venturing outside we were able to take in the full glory of our surroundings.  Today was the wedding day.  The benefit of having the ceremony at a lodge is that the logistics are not ours to worry about.  This luxury afforded us time to prepare for the day.  Rika spent the morning having a champagne breakfast in the honeymoon suite and attempting in vain to improve upon perfection.  I however, had given up on trying to make myself look more presentable and was able to enjoy a game drive with family and friends who had also made the marathon journey to share this special time with us.  3 hours of sweeping roads through the reserve followed; dreamscape landscape interspersed with regular sightings of Oryx, springbok and hartebeest and some of the more unique members of such an arid ecosystem.  Some new faces to me included the endearing bat eared foxes and ground squirrels, unrelated, though sharing obvious behavioural aspects to the meercats in the way that they scanned the horizon perched upon their hind legs.  Bird life in such a desolate area was also surprisingly abundant and I was able to check off in excess of 15 lifers for my ever expanding portfolio.

The location of the ceremony was a surprise to all of us, as the morning game drive had purposely taken us in the other direction.  Trussed up in my wedding attire, we arrived at the venue still not really knowing what to expect.  This is going to be where words fail to describe the scene that greeted us.  At the summit of another huge dune, a small gazebo stood amidst the brick red sand.  The wind had caused waves of ridges to form in the sand and one had the feeling of standing in an ocean as we took in our surroundings.  In front of it, a steep drop led to a vast open plain of grass stretching into the distance until it rose again to meet a distant jagged mountain range.  I have thought for ages on how to best bring to life the horizon that peered back at us and the best I can do is to imagine what the surface of Venus might look like beneath its shroud of thick clouds.  A cacophony of colours shone back at us ranging from red to yellow, green to brown.  Not even Dulux could hope to match some of the tones that were visible.  I never knew such a vast spectrum of colours existed.

However, my epiphany that no greater beauty existed anywhere on this earth was short lived with the arrival of my bride.  A vision in white, Rika floated up the dune on the arm of her father and when I saw her, the magnificence of the landscape dissolved into nothing more than a blur.  There are defining moments in one’s life that are etched into memory for all eternity and Rika approaching me in her wedding gown, soft curls falling around her face under the veil will live with me forever.  The ceremony went perfectly and no one knew of any just cause why we could not be bound in holy matrimony!  Rings were exchanged and registers signed accordingly.  Friends and family were all given disposable cameras to snap away during the proceedings and we were fortunate enough to have a couple very good amateur photographers in our midst.  Some photos of the event are already on facebook but there will be many more to follow when we have the time to go through them all.

My 2 best mates made the long journey. Owen of the left as best man and Brucey on the right as....himself

The new extended family

Mum and I at the lodge

Look how happy they are too finally get rid of me!

My sister Alex

Alex and her husband Gerry.  Look at the stance...could he be any more French!

Enough said....

Rika's Dad preparing to her his daughter away