Thursday, 30 June 2011

Land management crazy

So I have spent the last few days doing land management stuff. Tis exceedingly tough, I spent 7 hours today in a council meeting. I have also been butting up against one of the africans on the team I'm working with who is an utter moron. anyway I'm learning a massive amount about african negotiation. As it turns out one of the other guys is great so I've been working with him.

Also I got an article published!

Pretty happy with that :D

So the volunteers and my girlfriend turn up on tuesday, exciting stuff.I'm going to go and get them from the nearish town of Ifakara. It will almost count as a day off. I realised the other day that I have had half a day off since early May. One of the downsides of being the "big boss" is that everyone saves up all their problems for you to solve.

we have chickens which I have just about managed to get to stay in camp. Touch wood. for some reason their presence or absence has a huge effect on my stress levels.

I realised that I had reached some level of aclimatisation the other night, I saw a tarantula when I was brushing my teeth and I spat toothpaste at it until it fucked off. It looked a bit peeved. But minty.

I also discovered that they sell the same kind of palm sap beer that they sell in the Comoros which is epic news. Its stonger here which is kind of a scary idea. It reminds me of good times though.

I'm also negotiating a deal with a local teak company to survey their nontimber woodlands which looks like a really fun project. lots of walking about in forests catching birds and things.

anyway I must go now, boss duties call.

love to all

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

broken car

So I am learning a lot about how to fix cars.
the coolong fan on the waterpump broke loose and battered the radiator. we got a tow to the nearest village where we welded the thing back on and repaired the radiator using tea to block up the joke. i have spent today doing some serious barganing to get new(ish) parts. unfortunately i missed the last ferry back so im in ifikara tonight.

oh also a headless snake slithered into my room the other day. turns out its a legless skink that has no eyes, nose and a mouth thats invisible. its literally like a snake with two tails. bloody wierd. oh also i had a tarantula under my bed, that was awesome. i moved him on. he looked peeved.

I also ran a three day camp in the forest with all the staff which was fun. Its very strange being called boss all the time. the tanzanians are very heirarcical, which as I was the boss of their previous boss means they take it quite seriously.I'll see if i can stick up photos tomoz. bed time now though

love to all

Thursday, 16 June 2011


So I have arrived on the camp in Igota that is to be my home for the next few months. 40km north are the forest covered Udzungwa mountains and 30km south are the forest covered mountains of the Selous game reserve. In between is the Kilombero river and a patchwork of farms, swamps and forests. To get here in fact I had to cross the river via a ferry. The ferry in this case being a kind of truck on stilts that drives across the river bed carrying cars, lorries etc. The river itself is only about 30m wide at that point but crossing on the ferry is somewhat amazing. The camp itself is all made of teak and is very nice. There is high grass in between all the bandas (huts) that means that each hut is in its own clearing and the camp is full of animals. There is for example a lizard that looks very komodo dragon like that is about 4 foot long living behind my banda (i have named him puff). There are also a large number of birds, insects, lizards etc. Something that is a bit of a hazard here is army ants. A column missed my banda by about 6 foot which is very handy as the only thing I would have been able to do to if they had decided to invade my banda would have been to move to another one. As it was I had great fun feeding them cockroaches and slapped mosquitoes.

Rather dramatically on my first night a lion and her cubs walked into the village and unfortunately got shot. I went to see the bodies in the morning and discovered that the mother had a snare around her foot that had made her lame. Unable to hunt she had then moved onto easier prey, in this case humans and dogs. As there was a crowd gathered wondering who the hell I was I decided that this was the time to introduce myself and gave a short speech in Swahili as to who I am and why I am here. I also told them all the reason for the lion coming into the village and I’m hoping to use the incident as an education program. The relationships pretty clear really, use snares for poaching and you risk making a lion lame, which means they will come after you. To further that I managed today to persuade the game guards of the area to permanently lend me the skulls of the mother and cub so today I spent my afternoon picking rotting flesh off two lion skulls. One of the funniest parts of this job is putting the phrase “today I got paid to” in front of any activity I do.

So next week I will meet the rest of the chairmen of the villages I will be working with and I will tell the council that I want to start work the following week. The work that I will be doing will be basically driving around on the back of a bunch of jeeps tracking where all the habitat uses are. This will give the council a good map of what is actually going on in their land, allowing them to accurately manage it.

Also at this point I should mention the kids. There are tons of them. And they are on camp most of the time, pottering about and innocently getting in the way. They are very sweet and also very numerous.

ok will post again soon, love to all

Monday, 6 June 2011


I'm in Dar again, hectic as hell. nice though. I plan on finding the beach today and I got a good tip about a fruit market which I am intending to check out. I had pizza and indian chicken yesterday, both of which were epic. for the next few days however I am doing admin which is going to be terrible. especially as I need to get a total of 125 passport photos printed for all the volunteers...

still nice to be getting paid to be in africa though

Thursday, 2 June 2011

so Tanzania then!

Hey everybody!

so the next bit of travelling has begun, I've arrived in Tanzania. I arrived two weeks ago actually but its been a bit busy. So I got into Dar es Salaam, the capital on friday at about 5am. Dar is pretty nuts, the same as any large African city to be honest. The pavements and roads blur into each other, the cars drive where ever they can fit overtaking and undertaking at any opportunity. There are people lining every street pedalling wares that vary from torches that project Obamas face on walls to BBQ'd cassava.

I stayed in the very concrete YMCA. functional and certainly not the worst place I have stayed. I managed to make a local friend, one of the things that I have learnt to do is to differentiate between people who want to speak to you for your money and people who want to speak to you because you are likely to be interesting. the latter is often great fun and almost always very useful. Via this new friend, TicaTaca, I managed to get some sandals at a local price rather than a mazungu price and I located a decent bar/eatery. I phoned people, wrote stuff down, battled with officials and generally worked all day. It was very strangely like coming home. I rather like being in African cities now.

So then I headed off to Mafia Island. This is a little island off the coast, about half an hours flight away. I have spent the last two weeks rebuilding the camp out here basically. I managed to get a couple of dives in too, I swam with a turtle which was very exciting. I finished building a Banda yesterday, which is a local house. I am currently eminating exceedingly large amounts of pride over that one.

So I am going to stay here until Sunday and then I will head back over to Dar. there I will sort out a bunch of stuff before heading off to the Kilombero valley where I will start my real work, sorting out a management plan.