Wednesday, 9 February 2011

White Girls on the White Sand

The last part of my trip to Kenya was spent on the Coast of the Indian Ocean in Mombasa. Of all the things to do in Kenya, the three things that I wanted to do the most were 1) See Nairobi, 2) Go on Safari, and 3) go to the beach and get some sunshine!

Nyali Beach, Mombasa 

Seeing as the first two parts of the trip fulfilled wishes #1 and 2, And I was there for such a short time, I was so thrilled when Lucy and I figured out a way to also throw in a short trip to the Beach! We arrived home from Safari around 2 pm on Thursday, re-packed, and re-charged electrical devises, and got on a bus at 10 pm to go to Mombasa. Sleeping on a bus is not fun, people, but the price couldn't be beat, and the fact that taking the night bus gave us two full days in mombasa made it worth it! Sometimes on vacation, you have to suffer a bit for something better!

We arrived in Mombasa at 6 am on Friday, and took a collection of tuk-tuks, matatus, a ferry, and a bit of walking and bartering to get to our cottage. It was right on the beach, with a walled garden overlooking the Indian Ocean. Absolutely gorgeous. Full of trees and monkeys, it was a shady respite from the already hot weather. We dropped our stuff, went to breakfast, and then hit the beach.

Tuk-Tuk ride

View from our Cottage

Unfortunately, our pasty whiteness attracted far too much attention, and the Beach Boys were all over us all day. Now, don't be confused, these aren't your Beach Blanket Bingo type Beach Boys, they are charming, young men who speak every language a tourist might speak. they try to sell you anything and everything-from carved toys and souvenirs, to drugsd, to their company. If you say no enough, they will leave you alone, and if you get forceful and a bit rude, they'll leave faster. Lucy isn't good at being rude, and so we spent half th morning being chased down the beach.


Eventually, we snuck into one of the resorts lining the shore (the kind where everything is all-inclusive so that outsiders can't buy anything since everything is just charged back to your room). We found a nice girl who was willing to overlook our lack of room number for a hefty tip, and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun on lawnchairs, taking (fast) dips in the ocean, and eating sushi served to us 20 yards from where the fish was caught. Bliss...

My view from the Beach chair 
 Sushi and sun in the resort that saved us from the Beach Boys! 

 Camel ride on the beach anyone? 

Snail as big as Lucy's Feet! 

...Until we had to leave to return to our cottage. The tide had come in and we were stranded, our part of the beach inaccessable. So we had to sneak into another resort to try to get to the main road. 

Unfortunately this time we obviously didn't blend in very well, because the security guard came after us and Lucy had to do some fast talking in Swahili to get us out. Thank goodness for her Swahili skills! Home we went!

That night we ate at the 'African Pot', a Kenyan restaurant. I got to try all of the national dishes, and we were serenaded by a man singing some amazing renditions of Beatles songs alongside a synthesized keyboard. Ah, memories.

Cheeky Banana-stealing Monkey on our terrace! 

Fishing boat early in the Morning

The next day, after a run-in with a cheeky monkey who daringly came into our cottage and stole banana peels straight out of our garbage, we headed into Mombasa town. We walked along, finding an amazing bakery for breakfast, and then went up to Fort Jesus. It was built as a defensive fort by the  Portuguese fort built in 1593 located on Mombasa Island to guard the Old Port. It is built in the shape of a man, or a large cross. Ownership of the fort went back and forth nine times between the Portuguese, the Muslims, and the Kenyan Government. 


One of the four turrets, the oldest part of the Fort is carved out of Coral Reef.
View from the Fort into the bay

Cannon and watchtower

Wall paintings by the Portuguese

After the fort, we were offered a traditional Somali coffee by our Fort tour guide...Somali Coffee aka Nescafe instant coffee. Unimpressed. LOL. So we went off and found a Moroccan coffee house, bliss!

 Moroccan Coffee House

We wandered the town some more, and ended up at the spice market/market square. I bought some great spices and scarves. As we were escaping, yet again, from some men trying to get us to visit their friend's shop and fell into a bakery/restaurant owned by the most interesting man. He was schooled in the UK, loves Edinburgh, and has studied religion, anthropology, law, etc. etc. He collects postcards from all over the world, and has some very interesting ideas about life in general. Hanging out in his café for a few hours was a great respite from the city.

That night we caught the bus back to Nairobi, arriving at 6 am. After some sleep and some last minute shopping and visiting, it was time for me to head back to the airport early the next morning. It was sad saying goodbye to Lucy, especially because I didn't know when I would see her again. 

Visiting Kenya was one of the most eye opening, beautiful, and exciting vacations ever! Africa is an amazing, dynamic continent, and my trip definitely whetted my appetite to visit more of it, and more exotic places, and I'm so glad that I was able to go while Lucy was there and experience such a big part of her life. 

You never know where the world may take you, so always keep an open min and remember this African proverb: 

"Tomorrow is pregnant and no-one knows what she will give birth to." - Andrew Uwaoma

<3 Kim

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