Well, I'm on the island of Wasini right now. I'm doing my time on the marine half of the project. It's very different from the Shimoni house. There is an actual base with different buildings, but since the town of Mkwiro is a stricter Muslim community all women have to cover their heads, as well as their shoulders and knees, when we leave the base. It has a beautiful spot to sit and watch the sunset. One fun activity we get to do almost every day is the water run. We don't have running water on base, so once a day we grab our water jerries, and walk down to the ocean to fill them up and carry them back to the house. We always have to time it to the high tide because we go down a set of stairs to reach the water, and at low tide we would have to walk around 400m. It's the same for fresh water and supplies. They come over from the mainland, so we have to walk down to the beach to collect them from the boat.
Last week on Saturday when I left Shimoni 5 other volunteers and I went to the Shimba Hills reserve to do a safari. I packed up all my stuff before and left it at the staff cottage, because I wasn't moving over to Wasini until the next day, and I didn't want to take most of it with me. We had our driver and guide meet us there. Once we arrived at the park our driver opened up a big skylight in the top of the van and we were able to stand while we drove through the park. That area is beautiful, with lots of trees and open grasslands. We saw Sable antelope, some warthogs, and a giraffe before we went to our hotel for lunch. I would recommend the Shimba Hills Lodge to anyone. It's a beautiful place in the middle of the forest, next to a lagoon. We ate a tasty 3-course meal, then had a rest, I showered, and we went out for an evening game drive. We saw 2 differnt giraffe right next to the road, and they were amazing. That one was nice and relaxing, and dinner was another 3-course one. It was more food then I'd eaten in a while, and quite rich. The next morning all of us indulged and showered again. On our morining game drive we got to see an elephant! We also got to walk down to a waterfall. It was nice to get to stretch my legs. After all that we drove back to Shimoni, with a stop at the supermarket for chocolate. Back in Shimoni we hopped on the GVI boat (Squirrel) and went over to Wasini.
On Monday I had my marine training, which included lectures on the types of animals we are likely to see. This includes around 8 different types of dolphin, and 2 types of turtle, not to mention innumerable kinds of fish.
On Tuesday we went out on the boat for the first time. This is Bardan, the larger GVI boat. I spotted a group of dolphins while we were walking along the beach, which was cool. We saw 3 different groups of dolphins as we set out for our snorkel spot. I've only been snorkeling once before, and this time was better. We saw hundreds of fish, and lots of coral. We were keeping our eyes out all day for Humpback whales, since it's the season for them to be here, but none were seen that day. Oh well.
On Wednesday I did land based surveys. We walked out to the east side of the island with telescopes and looked for any animals. Unfortunetely all we saw were tourist boats. We also got to walk through the mangroves around the middle of the island. It was super muddy, and my boots got covered. It was awesome! That evening two other volunteers and I had a cooking class with some women in the village. It was great to see how Kenyan food is cooked. We made chapatis, veggie samosas, and pilau, which is rice with tomatos and potatoes. We all got a chance to roll the dough and fill the samosas. The whole lesson took over 3 hours, and the food at the end tasted amazing.
Thursday was a bit of a write-off in terms of research. It was very stormy so we couldn't do boat or land surveys, so instead we did data entry and photo identification. We also did a debate about whaling, which got quite heated.
On Friday the other interns and I crossed over to the mainland and went to go see one of the KESCOM (a sea turtle commity) projects. They have a cool info center set up, and there are 5 nest on the beach right now that the staff are patrolling. It was super interesting to see how keen they are all to help the turtles. Back in Shimoni I had my training for when I go to the satellite camp in 2 weeks. I go to the village of Kidong in the Taveta region. I'm very excited about it.
Now another week of dolphin watching awaits me!
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