By vicsolbert | June 24, 2014 | 1 Comment
First full week in the field. Though in reality a lot more time was spent in the car than in the field. Traveled from Dhaka to the south region, first stop the district of Satkhira and the village of Munshigonj on the edge of the Sundarbans National Park. It already would have been about a 10 hour drive, but our final stop for tea in the town of Satkhira turned into a four and a half hour wait trying to fix the car battery! Thankfully it decided to give out in the last large town and not in one of the remote villages, so we finally made it to our abode for the next two days for a late dinner.
We stayed at the Joar Eco Cottages, a new and extremely cute guest house with bamboo huts and extra large furnished tents. The food was also delicious! The area is known for various kinds of fish, prawn and shrimp, some farmed and some harvested from the wild. We had a variety of each on our first night! The young staff was also very attentive (a little too much for my taste as they would follow me back and forth from my room – just in case I suddenly needed something I guess). Luckily it had rained a little that evening so it was a cool night and we slept comfortably.
not really kicked in so a majority of these ponds were still just muddy depressions. The firm mud – perhaps it has a heavy clay content – was also used to bolster pathways, build up the shoulder of the road, and also for the construction of tin-roofed houses. Once the ponds fill I could imagine the area would look like some sort of magical floating settlement, but that day it did not present a very picturesque view.
The people here are some of the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh. While many other agricultural communities can get 2-3 harvests a year, most people here are limited to 1 due to salt water intrusion and lack of fresh water in the winter season. The wild forest of the Sundarbans lies across the river, and so many people turn to the forest to extract natural resources such as wild shrimp, fish, honey, and timber. While rich in such resources, this extraction is harmful for the rare and endemic flora and fauna of the Sundarbans, and extremely dangerous to the people.
mangrove forest you know it is nearly impossible due to their branching root structures and young mangrove pods growing up through the thick mud ready to skewer you with every step. Once the monsoon season starts the chaotic and powerful flow of water makes the forest impenetrable even by boat. This forest serves as one of the last strongholds of the Bengal Tiger. The tigers are one of the main reasons the Sundarbans have been naturally preserved for so long, because they are known man-eaters. Even today nearly 100 people a year are reported to be killed by tigers, and 100 more injured. So while the Sundarbans and their tigers are an amazing and beautiful natural wonder, it is not a friendly place. Somehow despite the tides and the tigers, there is also apparently a population of pirates who live inside the forest, known to attack tourist and locals alike.