My first week here in kakmega has been incredible…I honestly could write at least 10 blogs about everything that I’ve seen and learned about in just a few days. That is probably why its so hard for me to actually write a blog…its just completely overhwleming. I come home from the day exhausted, although that might be the change in altitude (we’re at 1500ft, as opposed to the balmy below sea-level life I was living the past 3 months). Overall, I have to say I’m ecstatic about the work that I will be able to do here. There is a LOT to be done, and thinking about it all at once is actually really intimidating. Also thinking about how little time I have left…9 weeks really sounds like the shortest amount of time in the world. Especially because I could live here…the surrounding s are beyond beautiful. The rainforest is beyond words…which is why I have these lovely pictures!
The best part of the experience right now is the homestay. I have a lovely mama and baba who treat me so well!!! I feel completely over-taken care of, but its really nice. For example, today I went on a nature walk into Kakamega, and got completely drenched by the rain. The rain is like nothing I’ve ever seen before…huge buckets of water come onto your face and you are practically choked and blinded by all the water coming onto you at once. So I was soaked, and freezing, because it actually is kind of chilly here (75 degrees when its raining…but compared to t 100+ I had been living in, its absolutely frigid) I came home barefoot (my forest boots too soaked to walk in) and felt like I was going to die. My maa ma brings me a jiko, which is basically a portable woodstove, to me in my house (yes, my own house) in my living room (yes, I’m on my own little couch now J), and she also brings me piping hot chai and some mandazis too, because I do look pretty pathetic right now.
The work is hard, the work takes a long time and can sometimes be frustrating, but the work is invigorating and I am never just sitting on my thumbs. There is so much to do here, and it gives me seemingly endless energy. I have an objective plan that is 5 pages long, and its only covering 5 weeks. My long-term objectives for the project are:
- Get the KEEP bandas Eco Tourism Kenya certified
- Create a business management plan for the KEEP bandas, to develop proposals to make it more sustainable and also more appealing for tourists
- Vamp up the Curio shop with locally produced and manufactured products such as crafts and jewelry, and also basic necessities for the tourists
- Put KEEP onto the internet through their website, creating profiles for various tourism/hotel search engines
- Create one-page flyers for each KEEP activity to put into a visitor catalog for tourists to look through and create a program
- Encourage more community development with alternative lifestyles associated with eco-tourism, such as cooking classes, traditional dances, traditional story-telling, and village tours.
I’m here for only 9 more weeks, and I feel so overwhelmed by the schedule I’ve set for myself. I have to remember that in this time, I also have to do my MASTERS THESIS WHAT!?
Oh boy, remember to breathe…and also to not try and get it all done in one week. I’ve decided to take this weekend and focus on some tangibles that I can get done. The next two weeks are my own personal observations and getting my hands into some real work, and then the following weeks I’ll hopefully have enough of a routine that I’ll be able to work in my own surveys, interviews and questionnaires, etc. I’ve got Bon Iver going, and I’m letting this vibe ride.
The real work has begun. Wish me luck!