Through sniffles and sneezes we greet you! Though we have been enjoying sharing friendship, our immune systems have not!
The anticipation for this day has been building for months, or for some even years. The moment had come and we could barely control our excitement. Despite the rain, we ventured out into the elements in order to get to the destination. Unfortunately, our first destination ended up to be Cheetah –less! After some initial disappointment we arrived at the beautiful Cheetah Outreach Reserve. Our dreams of petting these beautiful creatures would soon become real!
During our tour of this amazing program we discovered that this reserve protects more than Cheetahs and most of the animals residing there were rescued from either being personal domestic pets, or being in un-survivable situations in the wild. Animals living at this reserve are ranging from: owls, falcons, meerkats (Sebastian and Minky were the only two living at this reserve), rams, jekylls, multiple different kinds of cats, and Anatolia shepherds.
Interestingly, the Anatolia shepherds (they were well-trained big balls of fierce hair with elegant, intense faces – google them!) were a part of a project that this reserve developed in which farmers are gifted with special and protective companions that help protect livestock. Sadly, Cheetahs are often shot due to farmers protecting their farm animals; however, most of the time these beautiful cats were not actually the ones killing the cattle, goats or sheep. Since Cheetahs are active during the day, these cats are often assumed to be the ones snacking on these animals due to the fact that they are frequently spotted roaming around by farmers. To protect the remaining approximately 7.5 thousand Cheetahs, these skilled dogs are sent to farmers to guard livestock. In the beginning, there was much skepticism concerning this program in the farming community; however, (now that the dogs have proven themselves to be man’s best and loyal friend) the doggies’ popularity is high and a waiting list has been created.
After our tour we had a delicious lunch at a café outside of the winery that the cheetah rescue was on. After our bellies were full, some of us went on a tour of the winery while others went to admire the animals. When the cheetah petting was done, we went on an adventure to a chocolate factory! At this splendid place, Huguenot’s, we got to eat as much chocolate as we wanted to (well during our tour at least). Later, we had a restful night-off despite our sugar high.
Waking from a wonderful nights sleep, we journeyed to a local church in the township. We were welcomed opened armed by the members of this joyful congregation, which led to some thoughtful reflection about historical contexts and how inspiring this experience was in many aspects. To quote Desmond Tutu, “a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterized by strife…and a future founded on the recognition of human rights…and peaceful co-existence.” Most of these members were alive during apartheid so we were humbled by the acceptance of our presents. We all left with smiling faces after witnessing their spirit filled worship of song and dance.
Don’t worry we are taking our vitamins! Bye bye now.