My fieldwork posts up until now give an idea of my feelings towards the Karoo. There is something enchanting about its humble beauty, its complexity that not everyone can appreciate, and its tranquility that not everyone gets to experience. It comes then as no surprise that I found myself hopelessly drawn to this place. And so, I decided that I want to make it my home for a while. Now here I am, sitting at a charming little restaurant called the Lazy Lizard, leeching off of their WiFi, over a chocolate milkshake and mozzarella, tomato and basil ciabatta sandwich. I promised I’d write about my time here at least once a month. Here goes…
My first month here completely flew by. I drove, with my father as the self-designated passenger seat driver, from our home in Cape Town to my new home in Prince Albert on 2 April, a Monday. It was my first long drive, and it came to pass very smoothly. That evening we stayed at a little guesthouse with an appropriate, witty name: The Bougain Villa (it was crawling with bright pink Bougainvillea). And the next morning, I set off on my new adventure, accompanied by the intern I was replacing: a young chap named Stefan, who was to become a very good friend and wonderful company.
Since my arrival here, Prince Albert has not held back on sharing its treasures with me. On one of my first occasions in the field with the researchers I am now working with, I was lucky enough to encounter lithops that were in flower. It was my first time seeing them flowering, looking like little candles in pebble-shaped holders. I do believe I may have fondled one too many Glottiphyllum plants, which feel particularly pleasurable after having bathed in the morning sun. The following week, I was greeted with glorious storm clouds, and consequently, some of the most gorgeously flamingo-pink, to lobster orange, to pomegranate red sunsets I have ever seen. Being fortunate enough to live right next to a koppie (a little hill), I was able to get some really great viewpoints for these stunning displays.
Among the other treasures I was fortunate enough to stumble upon was a Namaqua chameleon (Chameleo namaquensis) – a species which my supervisors have observed only twice in all 30 years they’ve been living and working here in Prince Albert… in the 1980s! What a privilege it was to see one during my first month here. A lucky find, I’m sure, but I hope to see more of them now that the area has greened up a bit.
As part of my work as an intern, I am required to assist with scheduled field data collection. Sampling for one of the long-term ecological studies ongoing at TKRC required that I stayed over at the research huts, along with a fellow researcher, for a little less than a week. Tierberg, which is just under 30km outside of Prince Albert, was a pleasure to spend time in. Three words that encapsulate some of the most memorable moments spent there are: silence, sunset, and… geckos. My word, the geckos… as a hint to their size, I nicknamed one of them ゴジラ (“Gojira” or Godzilla). A wonderful experience all in all, and not the last that I’ll be seeing of Tierberg, because I am expected to do data collection there once a week.
Here are some choice photographs from April, the last one showing my current situation. If you’d like to see more photos of my adventures in Prince Albert, please follow me on Instagram (@hana.petersen)!