A plan that rocks!
19 March 2012
The first thing that struck me on arriving in Cachouane was the overwhelmingly obvious effects of climate change: erosion, salination of the rice paddies, and more. But the thing that really got me was seeing the women get up at all hours of the night to water their plots in the communal gardens, because of the lack of water in the wells. There was always plenty of water before. For the first time the word “crisis” – in the sense “climate crisis”- jumped out at me and grabbed me by the throat. This was personal. This is my village. These are my villagers…
OK, so we’re in a crisis situation here, and when in a crisis we suspend normal behavior.
I grew up in a family of extreme sports fanatics: if you weren’t risking your life, what was the point? There were a few moments, as when a friend lost his grip on a climb and was dangling in space (had to be the heavy guy, didn’t it!). We didn’t think about how much that precious climbing rope had cost us as we slid it over the rock and slowly lowered him down. When you see a hurricane coming your way, you change your bearing – maybe even kick the thumping diesel: anything to get you out of harm’s way! You don’t think “well we had arranged to meet Bob and Sylvie for a planter’s punch at the Trinidad boat club”.
So suspend all previous notions of what I thought I was going to accomplish this trip: I start planting trees. Cooling and beautiful trees. Trees that hold back the sea, trees that clean the water, trees that brings down the rain, trees that cool down the planet with their beautiful shade. And, oh yes, trees that will provide a harvest that can not only be sold on the local open market but on the international market as well. So there, I’ve not really veered from my course at all, but found a quicker way to where I’m going: for as all sailors know, there are no straight lines!
Not only will the tree plantation have a positive effect against climate change, but it will improve the local economy, giving the villagers an incentive to look after their trees.
Meant to keep up with the “captain’s log” while I was in the Casamance, but it was nearly impossible to get any internet connection at all. (Not surprising. It’s hard enough in Argyll!) So I’ll just share some excerpts from my journal, along with Tristan and the girls’ lovely photography.