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Presence Learning Village

Alien Party

The weekend of the 10th till the 11th of March 2012, the students of the PRESENCE Learning village went to the Baviaanskloof to participate in the FOBWA hack. Alien clearing at Rooihoek. Literally translated Rooihoek means ‘Red corner’, and that is exactly what it looks like. Majestic red coloured mountains, folded in a corner around the river bed. At the place where the Kouga and Baviaans river meet (Kruisrivier). A beautiful place to camp, for nature lovers, adventurers or people who are just searching for peace of mind….Or not!? Although aliens make no sound, they definitely disturb!

The alien clearing team, which already works for years in the Baviaanskloof, did a great job in this area. About two years ago, the whole river bed was still totally infested by alien vegetation. Now we could actually see the river bed, and were mainly doing a follow-up and tackling of some areas that hadn’t been reached yet.

We started Saturday morning, clearing our enemies, which consisted mainly of Sesbania, black wattle and few Port Jackson species. Chainsaws make too much noise, so we chopped, sawed and sprayed, with machetes, handsaws and loppers. All pure muscle power and fixed minds. It was good that in our researches we had all experienced the damage alien trees cause and what nuisances they are, so the resulting aggression came in handy. We did use herbicides, otherwise the alien vegetation will return as fast as they are chopped down. Fortunately the herbicide we used is selective and won’t harm the native vegetation or animals.

The work was heavy and there were several encounters with hornets and the possibility of an encounter with a puff adder or Buffalo. Jumping in the river with all your cloths on during work, was necessary to cool down every now and then. The mutual feeling of tackling problems together, by taking immediate action was great. It was a nice change for us after sitting behind our computers for days.

The working atmosphere was very positive, but the weekend was not all work. On the Saturday we returned from hacking in the late afternoon, because it was getting buffalo time and we could smell them already. That evening we gathered for a Braai and got to know each other a little bit better. Which even resulted in teaching each other some words in Afrikaans and Dutch. Not all words taught where completely positive and polite words, but we had lots of fun. The rain disturbed our evening and some of the students went on with the party in the car, while some others went on a night drive spotting several animals and being spotted by the buffalos, instead of the other way around.

The other hackers were fully equipped with tables, chairs and other luxuries, like you have at home. They laughed at our tents, because they were so small, that we would never all fit in them. Three people ended up sleeping in the car.

Next morning we had an informative walk with Japie Buckle, explaining interesting facts about the area and its formation. After which we put all our energy into the last hours of clearing and finished totally tired but satisfied with a dive in the clear, refreshing water.

We are already looking forward to the next FOBWA hack!