Well I have finally started my trip and left England. I have to admit to having a big case of the nerves the day before I flew when I was packing but they have now gone.
Firstly I flew to Nairobi and went to the induction of the two volunteers who will be based there. It’s a nice climate – hot but very low humidity – quite easy to cope with. Quite polluted though so I was glad I was not based there. Met all of the key Kenyan staff and now understand a lot more about the project! The Kenyan staff seem lovely – hopefully I will get to meet them again – annoyed with myself for forgetting to take my camera on the nursery tour as it was quite an impressive set up and very interesting.
The Kenyan Tree Biotechnology Trust is an NGO that has evolved from a project into a trust. They grow and then sell seedlings of 12 different clones of Eucalyptus to small farmers (60% of business) and to other NGOs. This is not only new technology but also the concept of actually buying seedlings is a novel concept in Africa! But these seedlings offer a return in less time, are more uniform (huge demand for telegraph/electricity poles at moment and they have to import them) and less susceptible to pests – so all in all seems a good product. The Kenyan project is about looking at the strategy of the trust and the R&D. The Tanzanian project that I am going to is much smaller than and nowhere near as advanced as the Kenyan one.
As I don’t start for a week I flew from there to Zanzibar via Dar Es Salaam for a week to do my PADI open water course – faced with the choice of a week in the UK or a week in Zanzibar before I started it was no contest really! Dar Es Salaam was not only humid but as hot at midnight as Nairobi was at midday – oh joy of joys! I didn’t stay move than 5 hours though. Zanzibar felt a bit better and less humid. Unlike the rest of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a predominately Muslim island and its capital is Stone Town. I stayed here for 3 days doing the main part of my PADI.
Day 1 was long and dreary watching the DVD, going through the book and taking the exam – but I passed with 96% – as with any multiple choice exam you should always stick with your first answer – the two I got wrong I had crossed out the right answers – that annoyed me gurrr.
Day two was the confined water dives in a swimming pool. Ended up swallowing a lot of water – mainly because I struggled with the mask clearing/removal – I kept breathing though my nose! I was the only one doing the course so I had my own instructor and finished by lunchtime so had the afternoon to wonder around Stone Town. It’s a place full of tiny alleyways with shops everywhere – there aren’t many tourists about so everyone you meet is trying to get you to look in their shop. Some nice paintings around but it’s the start of my trip so I won’t be buying anything for a while despite feeling sorry for them – this is meant to be their summer! Everywhere you walk you end up with company whether you want it or not – almost everyone responded to the fact I am English with “lovely jubbly” – David Jason has a lot to answer for! Oddly a lot of people told me that I looked tired – how they could tell when I was wearing sunglasses I have no idea.
I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon sitting at Livingstons – a bar on the beach. Now this was a nice quiet beach with lots of people swimming in the sea (some kids doing some great gymnastic entries!) when suddenly this big car ferry came onto the beach and proceeded to be loaded with all sorts of cars, vans and even what looked like an ambulance. This rapidly became a viewing event as cars and sand doesn’t mix too well! Virtually all the cars and vans seemed to get stuck in the sand and they ended up digging themselves in deeper and deeper. The bus took them 3/4s of an hour to dig out and finally load!
Discovered that the mosquitos here are evil and bite you through clothes – going to be getting though a lot of insect repellent at this rate!