Wednesday, October 10, 2012

7 28 12 Dutch returned to Colorado on her way to briefly visit family in California - She is back in Africa!
JUNE 18 2012 SHARE OUR PASSION FOR AFRICA! Mom, Kat, Erin, and Will visit Kenya and TZ June 18, 2012 I can’t think of a better way to usher in summer and family birthdays than with the arrival of the “kids” from “overseas. It had been 13 months since I left for the Peace Corps and arrived in sub-Saharan Africa. So Kat, Will and Erin braved the long flights (from London/ 9 hrs alone!) to see how I was holding up with the work.

 I left the Eco Ethics team in Mombasa for the time being to meet up and cross over to TZ. for a visit to the conservation area of NgoronGoro Crater. Greeted by many baboons and a female lion who led the way down the road after the park gate, we came face to face with the prehistoric! We started by staying at a large coffee farm situated near the crater rim, the lovely terraced plantings revealing the beans at every stage of development. Tourism, coffee and tanzanite are the top economic producers for TZ. Fitting in a second night at historic Gibbs Farm, a stunning landscape which is self-supporting and thriving, farm has been run by the same family for over 50 years. Margaret Gibbs survives at 92, she her husband started with the help of Mary and Richard Leakey, who brought timber from Nairobi to build the cabins every time they came for a dig in the very early years of their “cradle of mankind” research in Kenya and TZ. Now maintaining a dairy and a butchery, and acres and acres of vegetables, this dream has survived German protectorates and nationalistic years of government ownership, the existing 3000 acres now reacquired by the Gibbs 20 years ago. It now is a respite to work and relax along with the local Tanzanian village people. Hundreds are employed and involved in the composting and agro-projects around the lush hills of the farm. The Crater. Descending into the crater the first morning took an hour through the early morning mist. The volcanic rim is 40 miles wide and rich in vegetation, (candelabra succulents, flat topped acacia) establishing itself 2.5 M years ago. We came upon two rhino, both black, immediately upon entering the pan area, (the difference between white and black rhino is the shape of the mouth and their feeding habits, not the color!) These guys aren’t good runners but are formidable, feeding at night away from predators . The herds of grant gizelles, zebras and impalas, and hippos, and hundreds of flamingos (pink because of the algae they eat around the wetlands) serve as an amazing backdrop for the malachite kingfishers, crown cranes, and turquoise throated guinea fowls. No giraffe in this area, too steep and hard of their legs! Sayeri Camp highlights in Serengeti included groupings of giraffes crossing the savannahs, dual lions, baby lions in the trees., crocs…and Elvis, our wonderful TZ guide (we get around by bush planes, avoiding border hassles, bribes etc,, common travel challenges) was lucky in his sightings. The tented camp is restful and we can see across to the gathering wildebeest who cross the Mara River every year July-August for the new growth of food after the rains. While they were not there by the thousands yet, the tales of their howling all night were vivid around the camp. Elvis took us back to a wonderful location with three lions so we took another hour taking it all in, interaction between the lions, all the while enjoying the golden weavers, “go away” and secretary birds. Masai Mara, a conservancy vs a national park (more flexibility in viewing off road) was full of action with morning light bringing on a warthog, high tailing it out of a canyon right in front of me, followed by a huge male lion, who was in the line of sight of three cape buffalo! It takes three lions to bring down one Cape so this was very exciting, and very unusual to witness such a high speed event. The lion got away but the half hour was undoubtedly the most stunning animal chase I’ve witnessed during my time in Africa. Later the same day the cheetah here on the page stalked the impala (always recognizable with his “tear” drop eyes) for an hour and finally took one into a thicket for lunch. The vultures are not far behind. The birds continue to amaze us though, their color and majesty so splendid. With the rolls of the elevated canvas tent rolled up, we were always aware of the uninterrupted visita of the Mara’s dramatics desert and hills. We also spent an afternoon with the anti-poaching team sponsored by Anne Taylor Foundation in MT. The trained Masai are tracking all over the Mara; checking for the animal traps hidden in connecting brush. Most of the serious poaching is for the sale of bush meat and is an on-going problem. The team covers many miles, with the distances assisting the perpetrators. Violators also infiltrate many communities, learning and befriending the locals, gathering information on the habits of nearby migrating animals. The trust has also taught the Masai to use methane gas fueled two burner stoves, though composting with a small “tent” hooked up to each family boma. The gas produced from the manure placed in each tent and fed to the house from installed wiring produces enough energy to cook the family meals. Dozens of community members have learned how to harness the sun’s resource and curb the use of local wood eliminate charcoal! For the kids, the trip now takes a very different turn after the safe, secure guided initial 10 days. We then arrived in Mombasa, the exceptional setting for an Arab trading post, 2000 years ago, later to become the leading port in east Africa. Right away they were walking in my shoes with riding the matatus, and tuk-tuks, walking the rubbled streets, and negotiating the mass commotion, pollution, and throngs of people on the small island. Yet the sights in the old Arab quarter, and visiting Ft Jesus, built by the Portugese in mid 1600’s is fascinating. We visited with my Eco Ethics colleagues, talked about the various fisheries projects we work on, helping the local fishermen with new nets and safety training, in addition to the waste management protocol;s at the port, and environmental education in 52 primary schools. Besides the maritime efforts to protect the coast, we visited other conservation projects such as Cordio Research up the road (coral conservation) and Arosha Kenya where guest volunteers help with bird weighing and tracking, mangrove restoration, and agro forestry projects. Kelly, the nearest PC volunteer to me, works in a health project in Kadszinuni, a traditional Kenyan village north of Mombasa. We were invited up to a lunch of coconut beans and rice, and traditional mandazi doughnuts. Atop the the largest sisal plantation in the world and a 180 view of the Indian Ocean we quickly found the serenity we needed to continue on. Next stop for me was the work of figuring out where USPC would send me, and the kids were off to Lamu Island near north to Somalia Before returning to Nairobi.
Will with AK Taylor Foundation Anti Poaching Team, we toured some snare traps and found out more about their work with covering long distances to track single perpetrators infiltrating through local village relationships.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Almost as far north to Somalia and very beautiful, Lamu sits on Kenya's Indian Ocean safe so far from development! Days can be spent sailing on the traditional dhow, fishing, snorkeling or diving magnificent coral reefs. The houses and dukas in the seawall town and at nearby Shela Beach preserve the charm of Swahili style architecture. The town and local people on the Indian Ocean can be viewed from my room surrounded by a sea of tranquility, dotted with dhows, carrying passengers and goods to nearby islands in the chain. Bikes are the only other mode of transport along with walking ! At night the sea is wrapped in silence and covered by a million stars! A lucky break from the busy Mombasa port! A respite at Luma House Ancient alley streets Arab dukas Arriving by royal launch Captain, Dutch, Aussie Mark Captain's Motto Chinese Pottery chips laden Arab doorway Dhow Sail Dhow with famous lateen sail Donkeys Rule! Famous Giant Prawns Fellow PCVs sail to Manda Island Indian arch windows differ frm the straight across Arab door and archways Inside Lamu House Lamu Fort, built 1100 Local Arab school girls wearing ninga Local Fishmonger Looking for the pot o'gold! Not a line tie or winch aboard! This vessel converts to day sail Photos of Arab children not permitted with their knowledge South Korean Second hand clothes market hurts local Kenya cotton trading Stonetown from the harbor Underway after fresh picnic catch! View from terrace

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kilifi Coast kids improvise with a new baobob tree jungle gym, recently toppled over in the long rains. The root structure of a baobob is up top!
Dutch at Pax Cottage home of International Scout Founder Lord Baden Powell
Dutch May 2012