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Published: March 3rd 2010
A day out in a hand carved boat with our Guide Mohammad (rear) and our giggling chef (middle)
We had read about a great sounding Eco Camp a couple of kilometers away called Mida Creek Eco Camp. After many frustrating hours trying to figure out the area codes for the phones (the whole region had changed leaving all the information in our book absolutely useless) we managed to get in touch with Billie the manager who booked us in to come and visit for a couple of days.
Mida Creek is similar to a salt water estuary set on the mouth of the sea. It is a large, very wide and not so deep creek running inland, lined with pristine examples of mangrove forests. The area is well renowned for bird watching with many species living off the creek including migrations of pink flamingos.
The ecological camp is a community project set up by a German couple to support the local community in generating a sustainable self sufficient income. All of the staff working at the lodge live next door in the local community, including our guide Mohammad who took us out for the day to visit the mangrove forests and go swimming in the creek. We set off early in a hand carved
Not quick enough unfortunately...
boat, paddling our way across to the mangrove forests. We saw hundreds of tiny crabs, and Mohammad even tried to catch a big one in the shallow water to cook for our lunch but it was too quick and shifty for us and made it’s escape.
We settled in the shade of the mangrove forests for a delicious picnic lunch of fresh fish and coconut rice (the local specialty where rice is cooked in coconut juice instead of water). After a relaxing paddle in the salt water creek we stopped off at an island to visit a local community. Here we learned how cashew nuts are harvested whilst sitting in the shade with a refreshing drink of fresh coconut juice. The process of harvesting cashews is truly amazing. The nuts are coated in a very thick protective flesh which when put on a fire is extremely combustible. We were wide eyed with surprise when they put some dried coconut shells down to make a small fire and then threw the green fruits onto the small piece of tin. The fire immediately erupted into a fierce inferno of flames, with each green fruit on fire. After some minutes the protective
Excellent examples of healthy mangrove eco system
case was burned off and the remaining nuts were cooled off in the sand. A bang with a stick to remove the charcoal coating, the golden nuts were revealed and we now had freshly prepared cashews, delicious! You can understand the reason why they are so expensive having seen the process. Very interesting indeed!
Having befriended Mohammad we were invited that night to taste the local bootshine, palm wine (mnazi). The long winded process of serving it out was entertaining enough. It’s primarily stored in a large plastic gallon tank , then served into smaller plastic bottles (perhaps 2 ltr), then served into a glass 1 litre bottle which is the main source of distribution amongst the group. Once all the theatrics of changing bottles is over it is poured for you into a tiny cup from which you drink. As the name suggests, this stuff is extremely potent and not so nice tasting. We joined the locals in getting suitably wasted sipping through the small plastic straw bottomed with a cotton bud type filter, in my case out of a little plastic medicine pill bottle that had been made into a cup.
Though it sounds pretty rancid,
The boys out fishing for some lunch as it was a Saturday so they didn't have school
the palm wine plays an important part of the local community and traditions. One such example is when 28 gallons (yikes!) is offered to the parents of a soon to be bride by the groom to ensure that if there is ever any matrimonial dispute or divorce in the future that ownership of the children is retained by the father. Important in communities, such as the Giriama tribe that we visited where the younger generations are relied on to support the elderly. Mida Creek Eco Camp
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