Team-outing is one of those moments that we look forward to. It’s always a great time to bond, play, pray, relax, see and learn a few things!This we we thought why not get into the woods! It was a first experience for some, a norm for others (especially the science team), a dream come true for some and a not very exciting place for a few.
It all started on the morning of 11th July 2019. The team arrived early in the morning to gather and pack the final pieces of camping gear, a kitchen’s worth of food, and a six string guitar into 3 vehicles carrying 26 people. We were off on an overnight camping adventure in the Dakatcha Woodland Nature preserve where members of A Rocha Kenya carries out surveys, research, and educate’s local communities in a unified effort to conserve and protect a forest that is ecologically valuable in many ways. Many of the team had never experienced the woodland and this was the first opportunity all of them would come together to experience this place.
Not far into what would be a nearly five hour journey, the tarmac ended and we began bouncing up and down dirt roads to our first stop for a late breakfast of mahamri, boiled eggs and tea at the entrance to Hell’s Kitchen in Marafa. The team enjoyed a guided walk down into a canyon valley layered with reds, oranges, yellows and purples. Local erosion has exposed multiple levels of unique rock and soil formations that towered above our heads and left us in awe at the power and beauty of God displayed in nature.
By noon we were back to bouncing in the vehicles and the landscape revealed baobab trees, birds, and forest land cleared by farmers for pineapple plantations and charcoal burning. Between 1 and 2 p.m. we snaked our way through dense woodland on narrow paths with branches scratching down the sides of the vehicles and some reaching into open windows.
Upon arriving to our
campsite, everyone was ready to put their feet on the ground and the team was
delegated with tasks for preparing the campsite. The kitchen crew began
chopping veggies and tending to cooking fires, others set up tents and a
bonfire, while a few went to retrieve the main course of the dinner:
The next several hours consisted of a camera trap demonstration for identifying woodland wildlife, men preparing meat, fires burning, hands stirring in pots, people laughing and chatting, and the sun setting dramatically. Dinner was shared on large straw mats surrounding the large fire, with the flames providing our source of light. We spent the next hours together worshiping our Creator through songs of praise and bible study under a sky of brilliant stars. Some slipped off to sleep earlier than others and many stayed up into the early hours of morning in conversation.
Nearing 6:00 a.m. a morning bird walk commenced for those who were keen, while others prepared breakfast. From late morning and into the afternoon the team conducted an insect survey by placing yellow bowls with water and dish soap around various parts of the preserve, which were later collected and species stored. We also ventured on a hike together through a dry river bed near our campsite to experience another part of the ecosystem.
As our time together in Dakatcha drew to a close, the campsite was cleaned and vehicles were repacked in an effort to leave no trace of our stay on the landscape. We prayed together with thankful hearts for our time with each other as a team and each person took with them something meaningful and new as we traveled back down the coast to Watamu.