Thursday, 10 September 2009

Day 7, Kikole forest

I wake up (not so early!) this has been the best nights sleep I have had since leaving London. As I get up I can a screeching sound in the middle distance. Jonas says this is a hyena. We go to the village for our breakfast – ginger tea and donuts. Our host asks me what religion I am. I say ‘I suppose I’m Christian, but not practising’ he says don’t you worry what will happen when you die? I say ‘ this is a big question – and will take a long time to discuss’ People are obviously very religious in these parts and I respect that, and am happy to wear long sleeves etc, but I did find one of the songs performed in Ruhawte quite troubling – apparently it’s meaning is that you catch AIDS from women who where revealing clothes. But as far as I’m aware you catch AIDS from people who have AIDS, and their mode of dress is unlikely to make much difference.

After breakfast we pack away our camp for the last time and drive the 6km to the forest with 3 of the villagers. We have a good walk through the forest. it’s very beautiful and we see many mpingo trees, young seedlings and older specimens marked to be harvested, we notice damage caused by elephants and fire. We are led to the trees that have been harvested and stamped with the FSC mark, the first tree we see has been cut into logs, I ask Martin how many flutes he thought he could make from this one tree. He estimates roughly 200 to 300, I ask how many days work this would be for him – he estimates about 5 years, the villagers are astonished.

We head back to the car, Salim has collected some elephant dung for a friend, I think it is for medicine. We head back to the village and pack away our camp, say our goodbyes, pay our dues and head back to Kilwa. On the way we stop at a carvers, his work is much simpler than the work in Mwenge in Dar, but I really like it. He’s made cups and bangles and wine goblets. We talk to him about mpingo medicine, he says he’ll make some for Martin from the leaves of the tree if we call back on Monday.

So we reach Kilwa – have lunch and then I interview Jonas. Jonas is a very knowledgeable and hardworking man, he teaches 6 villages about forestry management and seeing the work in Kikole it’s obvious he does it well. This marks the end of my offical recording, and I’m feeling relieved, and happy it’s gone so well. We head back to the hotel and I have the best shower I have ever had! Later that evening we meet Jonas and the district forestry officer in a bar for dinner, before they arrive, Martin remembers that he’s left something at the hotel, I say him and Salim should go back and I will wait for Jonas, Salim says he can’t leave me here on my own as it’s not safe. I guess this is because I am a woman, I don’t like the idea that I am not safe for 10 minutes on my own here, it’s not something I’m used to, and it makes me value the independence I have at home.