Monday, December 21, 2009

The continuing adventures of Lizard-Girl

I’ve had an awesome week and weekend and I have SO much to write about, but to do it justice I need more coffee and I have a hectic day planned so I thought I’d dig out one of the ‘secret posts’ as I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit lately (and I love you guys so please keep reading, K?)

Without further ado:

So I have one more story about the farmers on the Eastern side of the Conservancy  this happened a year ago, while I had another student staying with me while she did a couple of weeks of fieldwork.

I was trapping on the Bushpig guy’s farm when I got a panicked call from the other student to say that she’d had a car accident and asking me to fetch her, so I packed up and rushed off to pick her up. It turned out that she’d had a nasty puncture, lost control of her 4x4 and ended up making rather close friends with  fence, a few trees and a rather large rock. She’d called the AA to come and tow the car, but they’d put her on hold, and as she was on a prepaid package, she ran out of airtime, hiked for miles to the nearest occupied house (which was the one belonging to the shirtless tractor drivers, who offered her french toast) and called me.

We came back to the house so I could drop off the lizards and have some coffee and which I drove up the hill while drinking and ended up holding the cup out the window (made for some fascinating patterns down the door) and went to the edge of the highway to wait for the tow truck.

After an hour we phoned the tow truck people again to find that the driver had got lost and decided to go and tow someone else’s car. An hour later we’d convinced the dispatcher to tell him to turn around and come and meet us so we could show him where the car was.

I was fed up with sitting inside by then, so I opened the back of the bakkie and sat on the tailgate, and the other student came and joined me after a while and we pointed out all the rocky outcrops we could see and tried to figure out how to get the them. It was a lovely day and everything was fine until… a goat walked up and said ‘Maaaa-uh-uhhhhh!’

She ran back to the passenger seat and locked the door. i tried to avoid looking into the weird weird goat eyes (they have horizontal pupils, it’s just weird) and I tried to stay as far away from it as possible and not bother it. After a while it made the weirdest noise ever, I got the fright of my life, shrieked like a girl and ran to the drivers seat, leaving the tailgate down.

Big mistake. Next thing we knew the goat had jumped up into the bakkie and started headbutting the dividing window to get to us!

Considering we already had one damaged vehicle and didn’t really want another one, we figured we should try and remove the goat. Except that neither of us knew how. We went around to the back and tried calling it, we picked leaves from a nearby plant and tried to coax it out… and it looked at us and then peed all over the inside of the back of the bakkie. and I mean ALL over. I had no idea goat bladders were that big!

After about fifteen minutes we were rescued by two small children who came from the house. The chased it out and back into the garden of their neighbour, smacking the poor thing with sticks and generally having a great time and scaring us rather a lot. We thanked them and got back in the car, where they came around to the window and started chatting to us. The boy was ten or eleven I think and his little sister was eight. They lived in various houses on a big property belonging to their grandfather (I think they shuffled between their parents and grandparents houses, I‘m not sure how the tractor boys are connected to all of it).

The boy was the type that I could see growing up to be a very typical (albeit rather nasty farmer). He told us about the goat’s owners (the first non-white land owners in the area) in some rather derogatory terms, including blaming their behaviour on teaching the goat to pee in the back of the bakkie. Racism is, sadly, a part of life around here, but generally the adults hide it quite well, the way the kids spoke was just plain scary! He spoke about the land that his family owned, and when we asked if they often saw lizards he replied with “You can’t go there. It’s private property!”

We apologised, explained that we were just curious, and the other student tried to calm him down by telling a funny story about a leopard in the playground of a school she was visiting. Big mistake. You see, she is American, and has an accent to prove it. This little kid went off about how “You Americans think that that’s what life is like in South Africa, and that we all have pet lions and we ride elephants and-“ Unfortunately he messed with the wrong girl, as this one had spent the better part of a year living in various game reserves and probably knows more about South African ecology than most people. She told him this in no gentle terms and he decided to attack me for my American-ness instead.

Because apparently I talk like an American. Go figure.

The girl was about eight or so and very sweet. I got the urge to send her off to boarding school or somewhere we she could learn about the big wide world. She was kind of creepy though and occasionally would reach into the vehicle and stroke the other student. Eventually this got too much and the phone came out and she started calling the AA again, so the girl walked around to my side.

She didn’t mess around but opened with: “Do you believe in God?”

Great, we’ve been waiting on the side of the highway for two hours, there is goat pee in the back of my vehicle, we just got a front row viewing of some random person defecating in a ditch right in front of us and the creepy stroking-girl is trying to convert me.

I replied that I did (I do actually) and thanks for asking. She looked at me quizzically.

“You mean you’re a Christian?”


“Well you’re not a very good one.”

“Excuse me?”

“You should be praying for the AA tow truck to arrive, not just waiting. ” her face lit up “You could close the windows RIGHT NOW and pray for the truck!”

At this stage the other student was trying to yell at the AA through giggles and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this all (but was grateful to have avoided the stroking thus far).

“I think I should wait for her to get off the phone, huh?”

Around that time the kids’ mother called them inside and the tow truck arrived (with a flat tyre, but that’s another story entirely) and we were left wit a rather strange impression of the kids in the area.


po said...

Heeeectic it sounds a bit like Village of the damned, good thing you got out of it alive ;) that goat must have been huge though?

EEbEE said...

I learned that the most effective way of getting rid of children is to annoy them before they get a chance to annoy you.

Squeezing cheeks, asking them embarrasing questions, giving them chores to do (in another room preferably) and farting on them work really well.

Candice said...

Really, Helen! How can you ever expect the AA to arrive if you don't pray for them? I mean, duh!

PS - awesome story!

Kath Lockett said...

Oh My God - those kids doesn't have a snowflake's chance in hell of growing up to be normal, well-adjusted and broadminded, do they?

Helen said...

Po: it was rather a large goat. I think my city-dwelling childhood didn't really prepare me for that kind of encounter!

EEbEE: I'll take that into consideration! Does it work on adults too?

Candice: how could we ever be so sily...

Kath: I think well-adjusted is largely a relative term... but no, it was quite sad to see.