Notes from Watamu:
We have arrived in Watamu after a long drive from Nairobi to Mombasa, and an overnight stay in Mombasa! Staying in the heart of the city in Mombasa, we spent the next morning walking around the old town, visiting the marketplace and Ft. Jesus (built by the Portuguese in the 16th century) among other things. We also took a ride on the Linkoni ferry across to the south entrance to the city, which afforded us a terrific view of the port. We arrived at the Mwamba Bird Observatory & Field Centre (A Rocha Kenya) in Watamu in late afternoon and spent some time getting to know the staff and settling in to our new digs (and of course taking a dip in the Indian Ocean to cool down after a long hot drive!). Today everyone is reading up on ecotourism and doing research for their independent projects - tomorrow we'll start learning about local conservation efforts - and later in the week we'll be working out in the field with the local turtle conservation group (Watamu Turtle Watch)!
Message from: Laura
We jumped into the Indian Ocean first thing on our arrival yesterday—it was like bathwater!! Warm, green, with blindingly white sand. Headed down again last night for a view of the Milky Way, shooting stars, and my first glance at the Southern Cross---we don't have exact confirmation on which stars made up the cross, but I was assured I was looking at it. It is hot.... “Africa Hot”, but there is a lovely breeze off the ocean and we have fans in our rooms which (surprisingly) help a lot. I'm struck time and again at how incredibly spoiled we are in the States and how so many people do so much with far, far less. Mombasa was crazy hectic—minivans and trucks everywhere, honking, speeding and careening down the streets. It's not clear if people have the right of way, but it certainly doesn't appear to be the case. Would be nice to explore a bit without appearing to be so “American”. Can't quite figure out how to pull that off, though! I think it's going to be weird to go back to the States and, once again, be part of a society where most everyone looks like me.
Message from: Daniel
While sitting on the beach today with Maria and Meagan we watched a dorsal fin ride the waves right up to the shore. We chased it down the shore line trying to get a good view of it and my attempt to run up the shore and get in the water in front of it sounded great until I was in waist deep water with it riding a wave right at me. Were still not sure what it was for sure but our best guess is a small shark (4 ft approx.). I really look forward to snorkeling around the reef that is just off shore and seeing a whole lot more.
Message from Mwalimu Jim:
It's nice to finally have a down day! Buck has been conspiring with Colin from A Rocha and Nelly from Watamu Turtle Watch and we have been setting things up for our next 2 weeks, but otherwise it has been pretty relaxing. I am trying to figure out how to get the students to work on their Kiswahili and incorporate it into their time here, and I hope to set up a site visit with some local sustainability projects possibly through local Peace Corps volunteers. It's good to see many of the students are using at least part of the day to write in journals, catch up on reading, and think about their final papers. The climate here (hot and humid, but breezy in the afternoon) is conducive to sitting still and contemplating for sure!!! And if things get too relaxing you can watch the monkeys steal food from the kitchen!