A little less than two years ago I walked into Inverdoorn's Cape Town office to start my new job as their copywriter and social media manager. I had no idea what to expect, and was nervous but excited about finally writing full-time. It's been wonderful and I am very sad about leaving this job I loved so much. I did many things I never expected to. I walked with cheetahs, petted baby rhinos and fed elephants. But the best moments I had were definitely with the people.
Monday mornings in the office were usually a nasty surprise, because the rhino poaching figures would often shoot up over the weekend. I spent days trawling the Internet trying to keep abreast of the latest news concerning cheetahs and rhinos, because of our conservation initiatives. This entailed seeing lots of gory photos and reading grim stories. When I came to Inverdoorn I was already aware of the rhino situation and this, coupled with bad experiences in my previous job, left me with rather a negative view of people.
But coming to Inverdoorn completely changed my mindset. A few months after I started, Leah arrived at the lodge as a new cheetah handler. Ever since then she has always made time for me to talk about the cheetahs whenever I visited the lodge, and helped me start The Inverdoorn Diaries so that our social media followers could get updates from the reserve and the animals.
Going to the lodge was always a great experience. I will always remember the interesting discussions with our driver Richard, as we drove to random, out-of-the-way places to fetch guests before heading to the lodge. Once I arrived, everyone treated me like a special guest. I felt so odd receiving what felt like special treatment, but no matter what I said everyone persevered. Mekka would always greet me with a big hug and Carmen would run to make me coffee.
My work at the office involved looking at photos a lot. I would get dizzy from all the cheetah pictures and thoroughly confused when a photo of an animal was incorrectly labelled. Even if I knew the label was definitely wrong, it did not mean I always knew what the animal actually was – which meant I had to consult the "Wilnapedia". Wilna, our general manager, astounded me with her knowledge about wildlife and was always very helpful when I sent a photo and asked "What's this?"
Then, of course, there was my marketing team. The countless lunches, the copious amounts of hipster coffee and the very bad music are always things I will remember fondly. In the last few months we had an intern from France, Sophie, who fit into our team so well with her passion and enthusiasm.
The one bringing it all together was Martial, our online marketing manager. He was always willing to help us and explain whatever we did not understand. Considering that none of us are native English speakers, this was quite an accomplishment and led to a lot of entertaining misunderstandings. There was a lot of good-natured ribbing, but all that aside, we made an excellent team and I will miss the creative energy and enthusiasm that Sophie and Martial brought with them every day.
There are so many people I met and worked with during my time here. People came and went, and I was always assured of meeting new people from all over the world. Every one of them made the world a little brighter with a smile, a laugh or a helping hand; and even though I still think animals are amazing (the cheetah probably most of all), it's important to remember that the most amazing thing we have is still each other.