Day Eleven – Nata Outreach Day 1


The lesser known “Squeaky Bedspring Bird” blessed us with its presence early this morning. I sincerely hope it’s plumage is beautiful because it’s call is not.

I’m laying in bed trying to decide if I want to get up and shower and get ready for the day a bit early.. and I think the answer is yes!

Continued later:

The above was the start to a three day morning tradition at Nata Lodge that I deeply enjoyed. Up at five, out the door between five thirty and six, sit in the bird enclave for an hour and then meet the Team for the delicious breakfast buffet at seven.

This routine was perhaps not appreciated as much by the local Go Away Birds. Apparently six to seven is their scheduled access to the little water pond and a large queue of birds would wait quietly, trying to decide if I ate Go Away Birds, or just pointed wierd little black boxes at them. Closer to seven two Golden Breasted Buntings would drop in for a quick sip and be off.

The brave Go Away Birds

Southern White-Crowned Shrike

The breakfast buffet was definitely the culinary feather in Nata Lodge’s cap, in my opinion. It was a real treat to have freshly made cheese muffins and yogurt and all kinds of fruit and brie cheese. Yum!

After breakfast this particular day took a decided turn for the worse. We were led, with a decidedly lackadaisical air, to the Veterinary and Agricultural compound where a large tent was supposed to await our use. The tent had mostly fallen down after its raising the day before. In response, the gentlemen who had led us to the compound, said he would return to the Lodge to get some spikes [to anchor the tent] and left with an equally lackadaisical air.

We had already arrived at the compound half an hour later than intended due to the Lodge staff’s disinterest in our timeline, and our tent builder’s attitude did not inspire faith in his alacrity, so I got to work trying to raise and anchor the (admittedly giant) tent on my own. The other three were equally busy getting our tables etcetera set up, in the sun, and the wind, in the hopes that we might eventually find a shelter to work under. Back to my tent-building endeavours: a lot of struggle and sweat and falling on my butt [twice] for naught. Half an hour or forty-five minutes later, and I stomped over to let off some steam with Vicki. After we exchanged some heated words, (directed mostly towards the Lodge who did not seem to be interested in fulfilling their host commitments), I got side-tracked visiting with the owners of a Butchery, (yah, its called a Butchery here? Not a Butcher?). They offered the use of their veranda, (covered, cement, STANDING, perfect), for both days of surgery. I relayed this excitedly to Vicki and we immediately conscripted the men who were waiting with their dogs, to carry our equipment across the road to the Butchery.

Our little caravan was halted en route by a young’ish man who clearly felt he was in charge, (he was later dubbed Peaky Blinders in homage to his choice of head gear and the show featuring said hats), and informed that we cannot possible set up outside a Butchery for Public Health reasons.

“Well its certainly a hell of a lot cleaner on their cement than it is in this dust bath”, I huffily retorted, and stomped off to find Vicki and have her sort him out.

I lagged behind and when I caught up to their conversation I overheard him point out that if we set up outside the Butchery Public Health would shut them down by the afternoon. That’s when I realized my veterinary-centric interpretation of his original comment.

*blush* right, so that’s embarrassing.

Eventually we settled on a tiny shack with two windows, and almost zero floor space. It was standing, however, so win.

Olympic Challenge: Backlit Surgery
Vasco in Recovery
Vicki hard at work

Both days in Nata were above 40C. I would wet my surgery cap before each surgery, squeezing it out over the front and back of my shirt, and occasionally down the front of my pants for good measure, and inevitably I would be bone dry by the time I was finished. Except my sports bra. That stayed quite damp. And in the heat that turned into a form of diaper rash.

Nice Melissa, nice.

Day One: six spays, four neuters, one spay died under anesthesia, saw my first Transmissible Venereal Tumour

Oh, also, this is plenty important, but given its position in the post I can see how a person might misinterpret my priorities BUT a person lit a grass fire between our Lodge and Nata proper. It was actively burning at the side of the road and for untold acres beyond, as we drove in to town to start our day. It was still burning, despite Herculean efforts by the locals on our way back to the Lodge. Containment solutions in the desert involve front end loaders and giant sand berms. This contains the grass effectively, however, does not deter the flaming palm fronds from flying wherever the wind takes them.

A tragedy, although, according to Vasco, not entirely uncommon.

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