Today we spent several hours preparing for the fast approaching Spring season. We don't have students until March, so all that we've been doing is staff training. This afternoon there was a pause in talks and demos for those who will be teaching the academic courses like myself, rather than the adventure activities (i.e. high ropes, climbing, kayaking, etc.). So sheds were cleaned out, gardens were tilled, animal pens swept, wood cut & collected, and sport facilities stocked. The Mesquite down here is brutal to saw; so dense and hard. Like everything else down here, it has thorns too. Huge ones. My hands are all sorts of cut up and rough (from riding this weekend too). It's a great feeling.
The coolest thing that happened today was saving a lizard. While cleaning out the little shed that housed the tennis rackets and balls, we found a foot long spiky reptile on a racket. With further inspection we realized that it got stuck crawling through one of the square holes of the racket. Its hind legs would not squeeze through. Knowing it was in trouble, it patiently waited as we figured out how to free him. The first thought was to force him to move back through the hole, but when we picked up the racket to take a closer look we saw how big his scales were. Going that way was not an option. So I started pulling apart parallel strings to open the square. That did the trick and he scurried away. Neat little guy. Mostly tan and black with light blue stripes on his side and belly.
It's these little experiences that might not be framed as educational or are necessarily part of our training, but serve to familiarize us with our surroundings. To work with your hands in your surroundings, getting dirty and scratched up, having unexpected run ins with wildlife...this is how you learn a place, how you come to appreciate it for what it is. The task will be to correlate this learned appreciation into the lessons I teach and experiential education I put forth.