August 25, 2015
A week in Nieuwoudtville
By María Fernanda González
I am a botanist from Colombia, one of the most amazing countries in the world! I’m used to walking amongst giants trees in humid forests, looking for plants. I love to know the scientific names of each plant, and so I spend most of my time repeating Latin names as “mantras”. My dream is to conserve these forests. Currently I am on a learning journey to South Africa, because I want to learn from the conservation community here because this country (which, like Colombia, is also a highly biodiverse country) is working to conserve biodiversity.
I’ve been to different parts of South Africa and recently I was fortunate to spend a week in Nieuwoudtville, learning about Indigo and EMG and sharing stories with lovely people.
Nieuwoudtville was just wonderful. First, I had a workshop with school children. I made a presentation about why I decided to be botanist. I talked about how amazing plants are and why it is important to conserve it. Then we had a session to create some paintings about the ecosystems of Colombia. This workshop was very special to me. I enjoyed hearing the children’s questions and the opportunity to share a bit of my country with them. At the end of the workshop I was recharged with kisses and hugs!
Then, I spent the weekend at Avontuur. I understood why Nieuwoudtville is considered the world capital of plants with bulbs. I understood also that means “millions” of flowers. Spring in Avontuur is the heaven for passionate botanist like me. During the day I walked a lot to see different plants that are in Fynbos and Renosterveld. At night and early in the morning, I “dived” into the books and I tried to identify all the plants. I had many books because Bettina made a very nice “portable library” for me ☺. In just one weekend I could see almost a hundred different species of plants! It’s amazing!!!
Finally, to close the week, I had a presentation about Colombia for Indigo and EMG. This presentation was a brief introduction to the social, economic and biological context of my country. I enjoyed watching everyone’s amazement face while I spoke. Colombia and South Africa are very different. It is wonderful to see how the “normal things” can be so different in each country.
In ten days I’ll be in my beloved country. I will come home with a lot of stories about South Africa. After this time in South Africa, my mind and my heart are full of beautiful memories, amazing experiences and useful lessons. Thanks Indigo and EMG for this “baie lekker” time with you.