May 27, 2013

The answer, always

It's Monday night of my last real week at work, which is really just a half-week.  Come Thursday I'll be landing in Cape Town to start a 6-week overland camping trip from South Africa back up to Nairobi.  As such, this is probably my last post from Kenya for a bit (unless I get ambitious tomorrow), though I'll be doing my best to keep you all (Hi, Mom and Dad) updated along this next journey.

So, gosh, what to write about for the quasi-last post?

I could show you a picture I finally took of that monkey on my sidewalk.  Talk about why Lamu town is more charming than people give it credit for.  Post images of my legs and let you all vote on whether they're riddled with mosquito or bedbug bites.  But I think the best way to go is with turtles.

Because we all know that the answer, always, is Turtles- all the way down.

I just returned from a lovely long-weekend in Lamu, where (as is apparently my custom) I didn't plan a single detail of the trip.  But luckily one of my companions knew that it was turtle-hatching season.  So, hurrah!

Along with the other 10 muzungu tourists on the island that weekend, we started with a pleasant boat trip through the mangroves, out to Manda Island.


The Lamu archipelago is made up of several islands- Lamu, Manda, Pate, and perhaps another.  Manda is the one from which the disabled French lady was kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2011, and subsequently the reason I was never able to visit on my last trip.  But please don't let that color your impressions.  Manda really is quite lovely.  


Goat tracked beach

 The turtle NGO (I left the brochure back at the hotel and forgot the name), employs ex-poachers to identify nests that are ripe for hatching (mounds of sand that are marked with two sticks).  In the wild, turtles hatch from their eggs under the sand mound and then take about a day to crawl their way to the surface.  It NGO world, the turtles hatch like usual, and then the handlers help dig them out so they can walk a red-carpet runway to the ocean with tourist paparazzi. 

The turtles most definitely did not stay within the prescribed runway

And thus I pronounce you FREE!

They leave the nest in a pretty uniform fashion.

AaaaaaaAway they go!


But it becomes chaos pretty swiftly, in an each-turtle-for-himself dash for the ocean.  Turtles racing each other, flipping over, getting stuck in beached seaweed, going in the wrong direction... Having seen all this, it's not surprising that most of them die when they get in the water.  Not the best instincts.  

Almost there...

Oh no... that's not the ocean!

Not the most flattering picture (hello, new bangs), but provided for scale.  Baby sea turtles are TINY.

Finally, with a few redirections and heroic rescues by the handlers, all of the 60 babies in this nest reached the water.  Probably about 10 will survive the first week.  

Turtles beyond turtles, all the way down to the foam

 And on that bittersweet note, I'll say "Kwaheri Kenya."  At least for the next 6 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kara,

    That was interesting to read. The idea of freeing the turtles sounds like quite an adventure. Hope your trip out of Kenya was great.

    Will be back to read more of your adventures.