Raymond Glover’s Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya
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August 2, 2009: Lunch at the palace
Today we returned to task of ground truthing the mangrove forest for the
carbon sink project. This was very tough as the area we visited
consisted of very dense mangroves which were difficult to work in and
also the walking distance to the site carrying the equipment on one of
the hottest days so far. At one stage we needed to cross the river, but
managed to find a shallow route and did not need to make a swim for it.
Lunch today was provided by the Gazi women's group and hosted at the
former palace of Sheik Mbaruk bin Rashid, a fearsome local leader in the
late 1800's. There are said to be bodies of eight men and eight women buried
within the columns of the building to help maintain its strength. The
fact it is still standing despite being bombed during the war stands
testament to this belief. The building was neglected for many years
before being used as the local school, before the current one was built.
It is now used for meetings and social activities and there are plans by
the local youth group to maintain it.
This afternoon we were in the lab again, where Tima and I worked on the
last stage of the soil samples by weighing them and recording the data
for later use by the project scientists.
With time to spare before the evening talks, some of us went for a walk
down the coastline. We watched as the local fisherman returned in their
hand crafted boats with their catch, and saw some of the wide variety of
birds and wildlife as we walked. We went past a recently opened small
retreat/hotel which has upset the local community by not employing
anyone from the village, but preferring to ship staff in from outside.
At 7 pm we met up for the last of the volunteer talks, one by myself
and one by Timothy on his home country of Suriname, explaining some of
its history and customs. This evening was the "Village dinner" where we were divided into small
groups and went to the house of a village family for dinner. I went with
Gustavo and Robert (who also acted as translator). When we entered the
house, after removing our shoes, we were seated around a mat on the
floor which is only used for meals and observed the tradition of eating
with our right hand. Gustavo was new to this, although I had done this
before in India, but the family were amused by our efforts. It was a
good way to break the ice. The main room of the house had no furniture,
other than an old television set covered by a cloth. There were 2 small
photograph frames on the wall, but nothing else. We had a very
enjoyable evening exchanging stories about ourselves, home countries and
traditions and it was a great experience.