Gustavo Maranes’ Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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July 26, 2009: First contact with mangroves

Boardwalk At 5 am the loudspeakers from the village mosque woke me up. The day started with presentations from Dr. Kairo on the research project and by Martin on the mangrove fauna before we jumped into the fieldwork. From the laughs of the experts before we started our “mangrove marathon” we could already feel it would be a difficult start. It was indeed, since we had to find our way through a very dense mangrove forest and mud. We all ended up with scratches and mud above our knees and one of us even lost his pants. After the big adventure we ended up having lunch in the boardwalk built by the village people to show mangroves to Kenyan schools and tourists. It is an incredible project run by women of Gazi to show mangroves to tourists and Kenyan schools. It was a nice surprise to find out that the first phase of the project had been funded by the Overijse town council in Belgium, not far from where I live. After a well deserved shower and dinner, Hamisi presented the village and their customs and traditions. It was funny to hear during his presentation that men have to pay the bride’s family whatever they ask for to be able to get her out of the house and marry her. His story was even better since, scared of losing his future bride to another suitor, he had taken her with his mother far away while he was making some money to be able to pay her family. Now they are happy and have two children, but during the time we were there his wife was seriously ill with malaria. We could feel from the beginning it was a very united community.
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