Many people who know me well have commented about how I seem to have the most extraordinary luck in getting things or meeting people or doing things that just fall into my lap. This week has been a very good example of this unusual and very fortuitous phenomenon, but to a degree at which I can still not quite believe.
Earlier on this year I was thinking about visiting Lamu, but wanted to connect it with my research somehow. There's a big port development going into Manda Bay very near to Lamu, to basically ship out South Sudanese oil, when they finally build the pipeline, and I thought I would advertise my marine biology skills to any conservation groups who might like some information. I tried WWF to no avail, and then through a contact in Watamu, who mentioned someone up here who I was told had a turtle conservation project. I called and they said that they would love to have me up here and could provide accommodation and a boat. However not until I got an email from them confirming details did I know that the person I had spoken to was also the owner of the Peponi hotel, the most luxurious hotel in Lamu!
Paul (a visiting marine researcher at A Rocha) and I travelled up on the local coach, being bounced around in the back of the bus, and then across to Lamu town in a very dodgy bus boat which was insanely overloaded and then ran out of fuel with a rapid tide pulling us back in a mangrove swamp. When we finally did make it to shore the Peponi speed boat picked us up, delivered us to our stunning rooms and the whole world changed. Suddenly everything was clean and worked and people were answering to our every need. I felt like saying, "You don't need to do that, we're not paying, we're just scientists!". I really couldn't believe that we had genuinely arrived and were genuinely staying in the room where I am now writing this post from.
After a great moonlight party, that just so happened to occur on the night we arrived, we set off for the first of two reefs we visited during our time here in the super fast speed boat with its 150hp engine. We had a great day of fieldwork and I was really encouraged by a sense of confidence in my own ability as a scientist. People are starting to respect my knowledge and skills in the water, which I still find a bit surprising and I often am afraid they will discover I am a fraud!
After the fieldwork the two local guys we were with, who are both connected with the hotel and who we were going to help with their petitions for saving the reefs in that area, took us to a deserted island for lunch. We were asked to choose some food lunch in the morning, but I really wasn't expecting the full scale picnic that had been carried out there for us! These guys, who we had spent all morning hanging out with as equals and colleagues, then started serving us with great gusto, barbequeing fish, serving drinks, all around a lovely picnic table complete with a table cloth! The Peponi doesn't skimp on any detail or luxury. It actually started raining quite heavily during the meal and the four of us sat in the dripping wet, laughing a lot, while I contemplated what a weird and exciting life I lead.
|Stek flambe au Peponi|
|Stunning underwater scenes in Kinika rocks near Lamu|