Probably my final entry before home!
23.02.2010 36 °C
SORRY FOR THE RUSHED ENTRY AND BAD SP!
I'm sitting in Forty Thieves Bar on my FINAL day at Diani Beach, before heading off to Tsavo East National Park tomorrow morning. I'm being serenaded by the awful music playing, which has just changed from some awful cheesy song, to the Exorsist theme tune! The sun is shining as always, and the waves are getting bigger and more full of Jelly Fish!
Last week, we continued to build the nursery brick-by-brick in the morning, and work with the carpenters, or in the hospital in the afternoon. The working week was generally the same, but this time, we seriously lacked in man power! Our group were dropping like coconuts, with stomach upset, sunburn, chronic fatigue, allergic reactions to henna, and untreated Bronchitus which turned into Pneumonia! There's a story behind all of them that I wont go into now, but everyone has fully recovered!
Last weekend, we decided to venture farther than our repetative Saturday nights out at 40s, so we went to 'Shakatak Club' which 'Lonely Planet' describes as "quite hillariously seedy, but fun once you know what to expect". They realy couldn't have sumed it up any better! This seedy African joint was full to the brim with sex tourism, which was rather gross and awkward, but just as the guide book says, "hillariously seedy". Despite my awful dancing skills, we had no problem grooving the night away, avoiding the stares of the fat English and German tourists! The night was really fun, the best we've had so far, and the seedy-ness just added that extra touch you wouldn't get on a night out in Nottingham (er.. To some extent...).
Sunday was Valentines day, and as we were all away from our lovers (pahhah), we did a 'Secret Valentine' where we all presented our hat-picked partner with whatever we wanted. I went for the average chocolates, cards, loving comments and interprative dance approach on Natalie, whos partner was Milly, whos partner was me! We had a craaaaazy love triangle going on, but we didn't let it come between us..
Valentines morning was spent at the 'Jesus Miracle Center' (church) with Duncan, which was a very interesting experience. The church itself was very African, built entirely out of wood and palm leaves, with a massive thatched roof with open spaces providing light. The service started with the entire choir, preachers and congregation (including us Mzungu!) dancing and singing to hymns and songs in Swahili. Duncan had the funniest little dance which amused us all. After the music, everyone prayed rather eccentrically, out loud, with arms high in the air, some crying etc. The preacher then spoke for literally about 20 minutes about the money collection, and how the church needed our donations. "I ask you to go into your wallet and pull out the most excellent note. God will bless you". I personally thought that it was so wrong for a church to use its precious, religious time asking the congregation for money. I guess it shows that however Kenya has moved on and progressed with its laws/politics/gov etc, there is still obvious corruption, even in the church. Despite the money grabbing bit, the whole experience was really cool, and I'm glad Duncan gave us the opportunity to see it all!
I've also seen more subtle corruption since being here, when the roadside police pulled over the taxi we were riding to check they hadn't overloaded the vehicle (which they had-18 people into a 11 seater), and the driver slipped the officer a 100ksh note, which is equivalent to 86p. That seems a very pointless amount of money to slip into your pocket and let Kenya's development slip away with it!
For our last week of work, we had a project arranged where we would be working in the local mangrove which we often swim in. We would be helping a local Muslim women group to excavate a fishing pond, where we would be spending the entire week in the direct sunlight doing hard manual labour. The arrangements fell though, so instead, we got to spend the week at the ocean, snorkelling and being beach bums!! Well, there was actually some work involved!
The work we were doing was with the 'East African Whale Shark Trust' (EAWST) which is run by a guy called Volker Bassen, who decided to 'save the whale' after years of being a commercial fisherman himself. The EAWST also works on conserving the state of the coral reef, which is where we came into the equation.
We went out at low tide every morning, and took the boat out to the reef and were literally told to just "jump in". The Sea Urchins (big black spikey balls) live off the coral, and bury themselves into it, destroying it. The fish that normally eat the Urchins have been almost completely fished out in the area, so the Urchin population has literally exploded. It was our duty to swim around with a sharpened wooden stick, stabbing as many as we could find. It was definitely very satisfying to hear and feel the crunch of their shells in the otherwise silent underwater scene, and I loved seeking revenge on the annoying creatures that went into my foot on our first day at the beach!
We also removed loooooads of seaweed from the coral, as blocks out the sun that the reef needs to grow, causing the coral to die. We became human underwater coral mowers, and were ripping up huge handfuls every minute which again, was very satisfying!
When we first started the project, the reef was quite bare in terms of fish, but after 5 days of ripping and stabbing, we saw so many different species at the spots we'd cleared. I saw lots of Parrot Fish, Angel Fish, Dory Fish (from Finding Nemo!), and some Pipe Fish which are streched out Sea Horses, and are very rare! We also saw a 1 metre long Spotted Snake-Eel, slithering below us.
But by far, the most exciting thing we saw was on Monday, our first day of conservation, before we even set flipper in the water! We were chugging along in our tiny boat about 10 minutes from the shore, when I spotted 25 dorsel fins coming towards us. I had a momentary panic as the conversation had just recently changed to sharks, but then realised that I was staring at 25 Bottle Nosed Dolphins, including babies swimming around our boat! We were told that Dolphins only every cross this part of the week twice a year, and we managed to witness one of those rare occasions! They gave us a good show, and swam with us for about 20 minutes. It was really amazing, and gave a great start to a gerat week!
We leaving for Tsavo tomorrow, so I'm very scattered as I need to pack, try and sort out Mt Kenya and relax on the beach (my excuse for this rushed entry!). Tsavo National Park is where 'Big Cat Diaries' was filmed, and where, if I don't see a Lion, I will seriously KICK OFF! I'm not actually sure what we'll be doing in Tsavo, so I'll familiarise myself with the itinerary for a little bed time reading.
We'll be in Tsavo for 2 weeks, and then we're moving on to another camp for the final week with the Leap. I'm climbing Mount Kenya directly afterwards, so next time I'm on the internet will probably be when I'm back in Southwell, freexing my butt off in temperatures unknown to the local Kenyan (which I'll be by that time!).
I'll write one final entry one here when I'm home, and then I need to start planning my next worldly excursion, but for know, I'm off to ride a camel called Obama!