We have all been hard at work reflecting on what we learned about research methods and fieldwork while we were in South Africa. Here are some pictures of us presenting our reflections for one of the assessments for this module.
On Thursday after adventuring through the Mangroves, the energy was high thanks to the interactive and fun walk. We learned lots about the local, rich ecosystem in the area. While we all expected the day’s excitement to be over, after a short trip on the coach we were surprised to find we were going on a boat trip to explore the coast of Durban! It was good to bond with course mates, with lots of fun being had on the boat due to the waves – with sea water spraying in many of our faces! This was also beneficial to allow us to explore Durban’s famous coastline. I know that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the boat trip, and we’d all like to thank Claire and Ben for arranging it for us.
This morning we all got on the bus to the outskirts of the Durban, there we were all dropped off ready for a tour around the mangrove swamp. As we all exited the bus we were greeted by a group on monkeys which we watched steal food from some locals enjoying a day out fishing. Once we were all introduced to our tour guide, we made our way across the bridge into the mangroves. The route through the forest was a wooden bridge twisting in and out of the swamp. Our tour guide would stop every now and again to tell us information about the plants and animals which inhabit the location, such as red mud crabs, fiddler crabs, mud skipper and the white, black and red mangroves. One moment that sticks out in my memory was when our guide gave us all dying yellow leaves. With no explanation he told us to keep hold of these leaves. After a while of walking through the mangroves with our yellow leaves we stopped. All at once we were told to throw our the leaves into the mud. Once the leaves hit the group, a swarm of crabs emerged from the ground and hoarded the leaves back into their borrows. We later on learnt that the crabs eat the dying leaves from the mangrove trees. The leaves then decompose in the crabs den in which the nutrients are then reabsorbed by the plant, as a symbiotic relationship. Walking around the swamp was an extremely interesting experience, given the fact that the mangrove ecosystem is a habitat which we would never see in the UK. I Learn so many things during that morning out, and doing it with a group of people I get on so well with only made the day out even better.
During Friday afternoon after we had eaten lunch and left the Hindu temple, we met up with a fieldworker called Barbara and a group of people who work with her. The purpose of this was so they could give us a tour through the predominantly black township of Umlazi in Durban and some more background on Durban in general. During the tour we were informed about how the settlement was structured, each zone/neighbourhood was given a letter, for example Zone N. There was a large level of disparity within Umlazi that to an extent was quite shocking. The most affluent residents of Umlazi lived in a neighbourhood called Highview and had access to gated homes and private security firms whilst the poorest member of the society lived in an informal neighbourhood next to a large stadium and did not have access to fresh water or electricity. We were informed how, as a result of this, crime rates were higher in this area. Overall Umlazi was an eye opener because we witnessed the levels of disparity within the country firsthand and saw how the fortunes of two people who lived 500 metres away from each other can be dramatically different.
During our tour of the Indian Township of Chatsworth, we stopped to visit the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple, which is a beautiful Hindu temple designed and constructed in the 1980s. We were taught about the founders interesting history and about the temple itself, which has accumulated 2.5 millions guests since its opening. We ate a delicious lunch at their very own vegetarian restaurant situated below the temple, before moving on in our tour of Chatsworth.
After visiting the Nelson Mandela capture site, we stopped for lunch in the small town of Howick. It had a KFC and supermarket, a town seemingly like any other. But a short walk off the beaten track and your breath was taken away, a staggering waterfall! A hidden gem of South Africa and relatively untouched by tourism, the sound of the waterfall was evident even before you caught your first glimpse. I overspent on a ‘hand painted’ canvas that I later saw in multiple stalls in the next town, but apart from this, it was a truly beautiful experience made more so by the element of surprise!
Whilst in South Africa we were lucky enough to be able to go on a safari and see some of the magnificent local animals and learn all about them with the help of the exceptional local guides who could answer all of our questions.
Afterwards we were treated to the rare spectacle of the crocodiles being fed in the reptile park, however the smell of the rotting chickens they were fed was not so much of a treat. Additionally we watched a reptile show about the venomous snakes in South Africa and were fortunately enough after to be able to have pictures with a baby crocodile and python.