A Travellerspoint blog

Visiting Labs in South Africa

semi-overcast 23 °C

I can't believe how quickly the time has gone by. I have only 3 more nights in Africa before I head to the UK. There are times when it seems so impossible that I could be here that I forgot how far away from home I am.

Today Jemina and I visited two laboratories and met with pathologists and cytologists at each site. The people I've met in the labs have been extremely nice, friendly, and helpful. They are very excited about taking the next steps in improving their standard of care from the conventional.

Jemina and I had lunch in an area near the airport and then returned to the office. Jemina finished presenting the RS training lecture with me and then I did some business planning with Belinda in the afternoon.

My hosts have gone above and beyond each day to keep me entertained but recognized that I could probably use a quiet night in tonight - which was right! I got caught up on some reading and presentations and had an early night. We have a key meeting tomorrow morning so I want to get my rest! It's morphology training on Thursday and Friday and then leaving for the next leg of this incredible adventure!

Posted by mquick70 12:34 Archived in South Africa Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Training in the office

overcast 22 °C

Today was a relatively uneventful day but productive. Jemina and I spent the morning reviewing the RS lecture, presentation styles, and how to best interact as a facilitator. Belinda joined us for lunch and then we countinued in the afternoon. Our original plan to visit physicians this afternoon is temporarily on hold until we meet with one of the labs on Wednesday.

Belinda and I discussed plans and strategies for after their market evaluations and the schedules for a "reality day" when lab staff can come to the office laboratory and have hands on experience with the equipment. We also discussed an agenda for their open house event in mid-May. Her husband, Arno, joined us for dinner - we had great sushi out by a lake in Centurion. They are great people who have become good friends.

That's all for today. I'll be better about photos tomorrow. I can't believe that I only have 3 more nights in Africa! Then it's off to the UK for 5 nights then finally HOME!

Posted by mquick70 23:48 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

The Africa part of South Africa

rain 25 °C

Today I am spent the day with one of my hosts, Jemina, and her family. Jemina picked me up from the hotel around 8:30am and we went to their church in one of the townships in Pretoria. Her family attends the Church of Christ. They are currently raising funds to build a building so they are meeting in a tent. The weather today was very cloudy and overcast so the temperatures were very comfortable. There were approximately 125 people in the church. Jemina's husband, Kenneth, runs the sound system. There were 6 languages spoken throughout the service. They had a translator so English was always one of the languages (thankfully)! They sing songs without an instruments but it was fantastic! The songs were sung in Sotho, Zulu, and 1 in English (for me, I think... - I surrender all). Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
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After church Jemina, her husband Kenneth, her son Mothusi (12) and her daughter Sentle (8), and I headed out for our day's travels. Our first stop was at Maropeng - The Cradle of Humankind. This is the site of some of the oldest fossils of our ancestors, dating back 150-200 million years old. The exhibit starts off with a boat ride under the ground, demonstrating the 4 elements needed for life to begin. The boat ride drops you off into a series of interactive displays about the path to humanity. It's remarkable to think about how all humans on the planet can trace their origins back to this spot. Sentle quickly became my new friend while we were at Maropeng and we took turns trading words in our native language.
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From Maropeng, we went to Lesedi - meaning The Place of Light. Lesedi is a cultural center which recreates 4 villages of the tribes of South Africa. On our way there, the skies opened up and we were treated to an amazing lightning storm - unfortunately, this makes it difficult to tour Lesedi. We were treated to an indoor revue with dancers and singers from each of the cultures. The drums were incredible (and incredibly loud)! At the end of the show, the rain had let up enough for us to get an abbreviated tour of the villages. After the tour, we had nice dinner together in a lodge in the center and then headed back to the hotel. Another full day in Africa!
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Tomorrow it's back to work!

Posted by mquick70 14:10 Archived in South Africa Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

On Safari in South Africa

semi-overcast 24 °C

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I have been very much looking forward to today since I found out that I was coming to Africa - Safari Day! And as much I built up in my mind what it would be like, I could come close to imagining how incredible my day was!

Belinda picked me up from the hotel this morning with her husband and her daughter. They have a wonderful family and were very gracious to give up their day to spend with me. We had a great time getting to know one another in the relatively short 45 minute drive out to the Lion and Rhino park outside of Johannesburg. We got to the park around noon and the pavement gave way to all dirt roads. We followed that path to a small lodge where we had a light lunch. It had been cloudy during the morning and the skies finally opened up with a light rain. It actually cooled the temperatures down nicely and only lasted for a relatively short perious of time.

Our guide met us at the lodge and directed us to an open-air Toyota Landcruiser for our afternoon game drive. The headed out around 1pm and the rain had slowed to a light mist. The Lion and Rhino Park is a non-profit reserve but is definitely not a zoo. All of the animals are kept in the park - 1600 hectares (nearly 4,000 acres) but within the park there are different "camps" to keep the natural predators from eating the rest of the animals.
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We were only a few minutes into our first drive when we came across a lion just walking towards us down the dirt road -then noticed several other lions just off to the side in the grass. I couldn't believe that there were no fences! YIKES! It was incredible to be that close. Our guide told us just to be very quiet and completely still - as he drove our truck by the lions. I tried to snap a couple of photos while I was less than 1 meter away from a lion right outside the truck - but was so NERVOUS that I completely missed. I did get some great before and after shots, though!
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Our journey continued through the park to the wild dogs. They are often mistaken for hyenas but are apparently much better hunters. When we found them, they were in the middle of the their lunch. There were two packs together, each feeding on a different animal. The next scene was incredible.

There are two prides of lions at the park. They only get fed once per week. Today was the day! We arrived just as the pick up truck carrying a dead cow was driving into the second lion area. This feeding area is behind a chain link fence. A chain had been wrapped around the dead cow's body and as driver placed the other end of the chain around a metal pole so it would catch. As he drove off, the cow fell out of the bed of the truck and landed on the ground. As soon as that truck entered the area, the lions all came running from a distance - CHOW TIME!

There was an immediate struggle between the lions and lionesses for feeding spots. Our guide explained that the pride watches out for each other, will lick each others wounds, etc UNTIL it comes time for feeding. They swipe at each other and the claws are not retracted! We watched these lions devour this cow - it was so primal! The sounds they made while eating were so incredible you could hear the power in their low growls while they feasted. We could even smell when they got to a new part of the carcass!

We stayed and watched for a while before moving onto the next of the Big 5 of Africa: the Cheetah. We found the cheetahs also enjoying their lunch. There were 3 of them together. They are beautiful creatures - the only big cats with non-retractable claws - and the fasted land mammal on the planet - clocked at over 70 mph! We were right next to them without any fences. Incredible!

Our driver took us throughout the park, highlighting features of different animals we saw. One of the other highlights was seeing a white rhinoceros (another one of the Big 5) with it's new calf - only 4 months old. The rhinos had more of a reddish color than I had seen in the zoo because they take on the color of their surrounding mud (more red in this case). Early drawn pictures of the rhinoceros from the European explorers had them "armor plated" - with rivets and all!
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Our game drive lasted about 2 1/2 hours and we saw lions, rhinoceros, wild dogs, cheetah, wildebeest (black and blue), springbuck, ostrich, zebras, crocodiles, Blessbok, Gemsbok, Impala, vultures, and mongoose. At the end of our drive, we had the opportunity to "play" with lion, cheetah, and tiger cubs. I was a bit leary at first but they were so much fun (and didn't seem to interested in eating me - just wanted to play).
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We had a full day at the game park and then headed back to town. Belinda's friends had invited us over to their neighbors for a Brai (BBQ) and some to watch some cricket. We stopped at the grocery store and picked up meat and drinks and headed over. We had a truly internation crowd for our brai. Two families were from the South Africa, one from UK, and me from the US. We had a great evening sharing what life is like in our part of the world, where our travels take us, the challenges of leaving family when we are away, and more. We had a very relaxed and enjoyable evening. At the end of the night, I was dropped off back at the hotel to reflect on a very incredible day.

Posted by mquick70 12:51 Archived in South Africa Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

The rains down in Africa

overcast 26 °C

Tonight's entry will be short - it was a very productive day from a work standpoint. Belinda, Jemina, and I were able to all get on the same page with the plan for next week. We also spent time today reviewing Review Scope training, T2 maintenance, Gyn processing, and T2 installation. Jemina brought me back to the hotel around 5pm and then I took a car over to the Menlyn Park Mall to do some shopping.

I grabbed a quick dinner at a Pizza place called "Debonairs." I found one of their ads very interesting:

"The Family Get Together"

Choose 2 large pizzas...

And get a portion of delicious beef cocktail sausages and potato wedges to top it all off...

YUM-O!

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow - Belinda and her family are taking me to the Lion and Rhino Park outside of Johannesburg. Should have lots of great pictures tomorrow! See you then!

Posted by mquick70 14:47 Archived in South Africa Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

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