Timothy Lees’ Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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July 26, 2009: Marathon

Lecture This morning the prayer sounds from the mosques woke me. Not as noisy as expected, but definitely attention-getting. After breakfast we went to the lab for an intro on mangroves, info on the project and the benefits to the ecosystem. The whole structure and history of the mangrove ecosystem was explained by Dr. Kairo. He talked about the various types of mangroves found in the different parts of the world and what influence climate and climate change have on the growth and development of mangroves. Dr. Skow explained how essential it is to have and sustain a proper mangrove forest, stressing the benefits (eco system services) to be gained from having a properly functioning mangrove ecosystem. He went on to explain the progress and improvements which have been made since the start of this project, showing the before and after data results.
Marathon Marathon
The Marathon is the first part of the expedition and is a hike through the mangrove forest at Gazi village. Along the way Dr. Martin and Dr. Kairo went on to explain more about the types of mangrove species they are using in this project and, using the plants as visual aid, went into more detail on the material they spoke about in the class. The walk started out pretty easy actually but just when I felt like this ws going to be a breeze, bam!!!! There was the mud. We were up to our ankles and me up to my waist in mud at times. I now understood why Brigitte urged me to do A LOT of physical training for this expedition. The walk was intense with, stops along the way to catch a breath and wait for Casualty the 
stragglers to catch up. Of course there were the usual casualties on hikes like these, as the picture shows. 

Bay View After going through the mangroves for about 45 minutes, we came to the boardwalk, where at the bay view area we rested before heading on to meet and have lunch with the Gazi village Women’s group (The boardwalk is an initiative of the Gazi village Women’s group as a tourist attraction and to generate funds for the women to help in other projects to improve life in the village.) The Gazi Women’s group were among the first to officially welcome us into the village and they do this by offering each group a lunch during the Marathon. After lunch I was offered a wrap by one of the women who took pity on me, to cover myself as not to return “indecent” to the village; a gesture which I Me in skirt 1 accepted with both hands. And with my new piece of clothing we continued on the rest of the marathon. 
Womens Group
We returned to the village tired and torn but with much info on what the project was about and definitely more info on the ecosystem. We had a recap of the day after taking a bath, then a presentation by Himisi (One of the team members on loan from KMFRI ) on life in Gazi and a bit about himself. After this, dinner was served, and after dinner we did the dishes and it was off to bed for some well needed shut-eye.

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