Tuesday, November 1, 2011

High and Dry

No sooner had I wrote that positive entry than my permits were suspended for some unknown bureaucratic or political reason. Last week I managed to fill time with data entry and other little tasks, but was plagued by growing frustration and not to mention heavy rainfall and long periods without power, (apparently rain causes transformers to short). On Thursday I woke up to torrential rain, no permits and no power, so not even my computer worked. Some how I managed to fill the time, but on Friday morning I awoke to torrential rain, no permits and still no power. What is the point!?
Over the weekend some cool guests showed up including a guy called Jeff who is friends with Heidi, a researcher working from A Rocha at the moment. He was leaving on Tuesday, so I decided if nothing was sorted by then I would go with him for a little safari and trip around. We headed to Mombasa and spent the first night there hanging out in the old town and doing some shopping. On Wednesday we travelled up country to where he was working in Kamba land about 3 hours east of Nairobi on the Western edge of Tsavo East.
Its a really poor area up there. No tourism or industry, just farms of barren red earth, waiting for the rain, which has so far only blessed the coast. Its the kind of place where no one has ever seen a Mzungu, so I attracted a lot of attention where ever I went. Even the prices for piki-pikis (motorbike taxi) are lower than the coast, despite that petrol is the same price everywhere, showing how much poorer people are and how little they live on. I don't know how people make any money, never mind the $1 a day statistic most of them probably fall in.
The place where I stayed in Kasiyani was probably the wealthiest apartments in the place for people like the school teacher opposite. The “apartment” is a single 3mx3m room with corrugated iron roof and cement floor. There are communal long-drops and washrooms. All water comes from a single tap in the compound when it works, or from the tap in the village when it doesn't. We take bucket baths and water is always on the mind as a precious resource. We are the lucky ones, some people on the shambas (farm land) have to walk several kilometres to the nearest water point an then somehow carry the 20 litre containers, I struggled with across our courtyard, back to their homes.
Standing on koppie in Kamba country
Stay tuned for updates from my time in Mombasa at the marine conference. I'm quite behind in writing, but lots of cool stuff happened when I got back down to the coast.

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