We awoke this morning after a night of interrupted sleep from both the usual village animal noise and the musical celebrations for upcoming weddings. Gazi Village is scheduled for four weddings this weekend!
But first we were off to the field for our final day at Kinondo. Today both the Earthwatch and KMFRI teams were in full force, finishing up biomass measurements, counting wildlings, and (finally!) planting mangrove seedlings. Between all of us, we planted over 400 young mangrove trees – just think of how much stored carbon that could mean! We’re hoping that the planting is successful enough to offset more than just our travel to and from Kenya.
We had our final madafu break (fresh coconuts from the tree) under a coconut tree where Dr. Kairo explained the successes (and failures) of planted seedlings in the past. Our team was
confident that ours would be a fully successful planting, though. Before leaving, Kenyan, Australian, American and Chinese team members alike competed in a coconut shell throwing contest. I like to think we all came out winners.
We took our final bus ride out of Makongeni (the village where the Kinondo plantations are found) back to Gazi for lunch. To our surprise, we were told we’d be having lunch in the village at a wedding celebration that turned out to be one of the larger events in recent Gazi history. After scrubbing the mud off of our arms and legs and finding wedding attire from our limited wardrobes, the full team headed down to the wedding for lunch.
We were invited into a large tented area for special guests where we were served biriani and a beef curry that we ate with our now clean hands. The chili relish was as hot as a nibble pie from Warrnambool. Dessert was equally delicious: coconut milk ice cream and matobosha, a warm dessert that seemed to be a mix between rice pudding and bread pudding.
After our meal, we joined the rest of the village in the streets for music and dancing. Once we had reached sensory overload, we headed through the coconut tree plantation to watch the grand final soccer game between two local teams – Makongeni won.
It was a long day but I think the most rewarding one on the trip so far. It’s amazing what you’re able to fit into less than 24 hours.