Weeks 1 & 2
23.01.2010 34 °C
The internet here is slow, so I'm just going to write about the first 2 weeks and will write the second entry next weekend! I'm sitting in a tiny internet cafe watching a monkey (with a red bum and blue balls...!) watch me through the grate on the window.. Here's the story of weeks 1 &2!
Jambo! Mambo? POA! Apologies for the delayed post. I've been living in the heart of a secluded elephant sanctuary for the past 2 weeks. I will now be at Makongeni Camp by Diani Beach for the next 5 weeks where I'll have internet access at weekends. So here's what's been happening since January 4th...
After arriving in Mombassa from our overnight flight, the 12 of us (will provide character profils later) boarded a rickety open-back truck for the journey to Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary in the Shimba Hills Reserve. The drive to the sanctuary took around 3 hours, and the majority of it was down a dusty track surrounded by baobabs (!!!)..
The sanctuary is a community based project aimed to limit the conflict between the locals and the elephants. The aim of our visit to the sanctuary was to: assist the locals in maintaining the roads, help out at the school, plant trees to reduce impact on the environment and make paper out of elephant dung to bring revenue to the sanc. The road maintainace was the first project, and my body definitely wasn't prepared for the physical labour it had to endure! My arms have buffed up as a result of all the digging an hoe-ing, and my skin became creamy from the bottles of sunscreen I was pumping on it every day (it was 34'c when we worked!).. We were filling in potholes caused by the rainwater, and limiting the impact of vehicles on the sections. We worked for about 6 days on the roads, and managed to complete two 10metre sections by the end of the fortnight.
Over the two weeks in Mwaluganje we visited the school about 6 times carrying out various tasks including painting educational diagrams (female and male reproductive system), fixing a fence around the play-area, and working in the school's tree nursery planting trees to provide firewood for the villiage. We were swarmed by kids the minute we set foot in the school, and we weren't left alone for the next two weeks! They were all so adorable, but I must say-they got rather annoying after 14days of "hallo what is you name"... Athlyn. What's your name... "Fatuma/Mwanalima/Bakhari... What is your father's name"... That's about all the English they knew (well.. ish..). They would also stand about 50cm away from me when I was trying to paint the male reproductive system on the wall with decade-old paint which made the whole proccess a lot harder!
The work at the school was nice, but we didn't really get to see the end product of the work we did, but all in all, it was a nice experience!
Making EDP (Elephant Dung Paper) was what we all looked forward to after a long hot day digging up the road. It required us to mix Elephant poo with scrap paper and PVA glue, and then slap it down onto the table in A4 size. It was very easy and theraputic, and I came out (after the 2 weeks) with a little diary, a bookmark and some smelly hands!
Our accommodation at the sanctuary was big D of E style tents with skimpy mats and cardboard pillows.. My idea of buying & bringing a tiny 4 season sleepingbag was a bad one, as the only think I could bare to sleep in was my underwear! It didn't drop below 20'c at night, so the tents were always sweltering hot. There was a big mess tent area in the center of the camp where we ate 3 meals a day cooked by Titus and Silus (our chefs). The food is really tasty, but uses the kind of dark/chewey meat Colin and I ask not to have at home!
Apologies again for this bad entry. The internet here is painfully slow and I'm distracted by the monkeys and 'Kenya's most beautiful beach out of the window... Next time I'll plan the entry in advance so you have something nicer to read!
LOVE ATHLYN XXX
ps. I will upload pictures as soon as possible-the computer is just not having any of it!
pps. I've accepted Goldsmiths officially, so I will be in London studying Sociology & Politics next year!
ppps. Hope you're all enjoying the cold weather where you are! I'm only just adjusting to the +32'c weather here. As hard as it is to believe... I've got a tan!