It’s 9.00am, your first day as an Eco Visitor at Local Ocean Trust. You’re jet lagged and wondering how you will ever adjust to Kenya’s steaming humidity, no time to worry though as you head off along a bumpy village track in the project’s van to rescue a turtle. She’s healthy and you are able to release her from the beach. You watch her find the water and disappear with hardly a splash back to the ocean. She is free and where she belongs thanks to you.
No sooner have you worked out the difference between a Hawksbill and a Green turtle, you are standing in sandy mud helping community members replant the depleted mangrove trees so the stunning wild life can return to thrive amongst this magnificent forest. Twenty four hours ago you didn’t know the difference between a mangrove plant and a tomato plant!
With mud still dripping off your flip flops and ravenously hungry, you join the rest of the project staff for an authentic African lunch, struggling to mould ugali into a spoon to scoop up the delicious beans served by Mary, the project’s wonderful cook.
Jet lag is starting to really kick in now but you don’t want to give in and you find yourself sorting through bags of rubbish collected from the beach clean-up the day before you arrived. You are amazed at all the productive and creative ways the project recycles the rubbish and you remind yourself never to use a plastic bag again when you return home.
Then, just as you thought you could rest up, you are invited to join Bootstrap Bill, a patient in the rehabilitation centre for sick and injured turtles, for a sea bath. You realise how unfit you are as you struggle through the waves trying to keep up with a turtle with only three flippers. You snorkel over the beautiful coral reef and watch this wonderful creature becoming stronger and more confident in the water.
You’re really tired now and you wonder how you are going to last until 5 00pm. You glance at your watch, surprised it’s already 4.50, not that time is important here. You amble back to Lallies, your home away from home and flop into the refreshing plunge pool. Other volunteers are lounging on the veranda with cool drinks and fresh mangoes. You share your day.
Night comes quickly in Africa. Going to bed at 8.00pm is unheard of back home but you are on night patrol and that means waking at 3.00am to walk the moon lit beach hopefully looking for a nesting turtle. You’re in luck. A massive Green turtle is slowly making her way up the beach to nest. You sit watching silently as this magnificent creature digs a deep pit to lay her eggs.As the sun starts to glow on the horizon she throws a final heap of sand to disguise her nest and exhausted she crawls slowly back to the ocean. You are awe struck at having just witnessed one of nature’s supreme treasures.
As you wander back along the sunlit beach you do a quick calculation. The eggs will hatch around sixty days and, yes that’s just before you return home. One day in Watamu and already you are questioning how you will ever adjust back to the chaos of modern living. You’re going to enjoy it here!
By Sue, current Eco Visitor