Raymond Glover’s Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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August 2, 2009: Lunch at the palace

Fisherman 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. Dinner at the palace 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.

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