Raymond Glover’s Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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July 25, 2009: First steps in Africa

Team 1 All the travel arrangements worked out perfectly. I met up with Gustavo at Schipol Airport before our overnight flight to Nairobi, and then the trip down to Mombasa, from where we took a taxi to the rendezvous point. The drive down Barack Obama Road (quite recently named I suspect) was my first real glimpse of life in Kenya, and it was a real eye opener. Having met up with Bronwyn and Sean who were already there, and having a couple of hours before official pick-up time we walked into the old town and visited Mombasa's most popular tourist attraction, Fort Jesus, which dates back to the 1600's. Once inside we found that the Environment Trust of Kenya we holding a prize giving ceremony for a painting competition for schools called "communities unite in combating climate change." We then walked through the back streets following one of the signed routes and decided to have a spot of lunch at a local eatery, which was quite entertaining! We then headed back to the rendezvous point to meet up with Timothy and Dr Martin Skov, our Earthwatch leader for this team, and the drive to Gazi. The route took us across the on the Likoni ferry crossing, which operates 24 hours and carries 170,000 people and 3,000 vehicles a day. An hour and a half later we arrived at Gazi Village and were shown into our accommodation and introduced to Dr Kairo (from KMFRI and an Earthwatch Scientist who has pioneered community involvement in the mangrove restoration in Gazi) and Mama Nico who would be looking after us during our stay (it is traditional for women to me called after the name of their first child, hence Mama Nico). We then went for a walk through the village to the sea during which Martin gave us a brief history of the project and the village. On return to the accommodation we met the other 4 volunteers on the project, Tima, Zulekha, Michael and Robert who all live either in or a short distance from the village. After an atmospheric candle lit meal in the canopy (due to a power cut) we introduced ourselves to one another and had a group discussion about our expectations and fears for the coming days. Afterwards Martin ran through the packed schedule for the coming days and outlined some points for our safety and wellbeing around the village. After a packed 36 hours it was time for me to do battle with a mosquito net and a single bed.
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