... back in kenya again...
23.08.2009 - 03.09.2009
Flying back into Nairobi in Kenya it's fair to say we felt a lot more confident than our first visit nearly 2 months ago... our third time in Milimani backpackers... they were beginning to treat us like old friends.
We did a fleeting trip to Nairobi to dump all our gear, left the rucksacks at Miliamani and just took our day packs to the coast as lots of matatu rides (crazy packed to the brim Kenyan minibuses) to negotiate along the coast.
Caught the lunchtime bus out to Mombasa, a long 9 hour trip on not very great roads. Arrived in Mombasa at the beginning of Ramadan in the dark to check into our guest house.... which was conveniently across the road from the local mosque.... fair to say we didn't get much sleep over the next couple of days. Mombasa is very hot and humid and felt extremely like Malaysia... even the language sounds the same. Great street food, barbecued chicken, etc.
Spent a couple of days there before heading down the south coast. Caught a ferry across the channel then a matatu to Shimoni.... about an hours drive but took 2 and a half in our matatu which stopped every couple of km's to try and squeeze more passehgers onboard.... even when we had 2 people hanging out the door and double the normal capacity they still tried to squeeze more people in... crazy!
Arrived in Shimoni to be met by the usual touts offering boat trips to the island, got ripped off by a nice couple of island locals, but hey they were friendly about it! Wasini island is a small island surrounded by mangroves. Great spot, really quiet and we were the only guests.
Took a dhow trip out to the marine park the next day to go snorkelling, was really windy and not exactly what you'd call ideal snorkelling conditions with waves washing over your head! Anyway, trip was great fun, albeit the snorkelling was pretty average.
The next day headed back up the coast via Mombasa to Watamu on the northern coast. We were told this was a bit of an italian beach resort.... no kidding.... locals were trying to talk to us in Italian in the streets and the local greeting to Mazungus was Ciao!
PS. Mazungu is a very frequent East African word directed towards us, according to wikipedia it means....
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Muzungu is a word that has become to mean "white person" in many Bantu languages of east, central and southern Africa. There are a number of variations depending on the location. It should be noted that any light-skinned non-asiatic person could be addressed as Mzungu/Muzungu in the region.
Most commonly used as.... "Muzungu, Mazungu, where are you going mazungu? taxi? Boda boda?" as you're walking down the street.
Fair to say that Watamu and Malindi have beautiful beaches but both places have just been turned into huge resort towns.... every inch of waterside space has a resort on it.... and not a resort that people on our budget can afford. So we didn't stick around for long. Couldn't step on the beach for 'beach boys', touts trying to sell you boat trips.
Got the 4-hour bus to Lamu that they warn you on the government websites not to get as they have been hijacked by somali pirates.... anyway, after 2 months in east africa we'd met tons of people who got the bus and the general consensus was that it was safe..... 2 hours after we got on the 2 armed guards joined us! Oops! Maybe it wasn't so safe?? Apparently the pirates aren't attacking the buses anymore!
So... arrived in Lamu safe and sound, what a great spot! The old town is full of small winding alleys with donkeys the main mode of transport. We were a bit worried that lamu might be a dissapointment and just a big beach resort like malindi, but far from it. What a great place. Went on a whole day dhow trip, sailing, fishing and snorkelling. The snorkelling was rubbish but we had a great time... one of the crew was catching fish with a spear!! huge fish too! Sailed back in the sunset and thought what a great place... why did we waste all that time on the other coastal places! Stayed in a great Swahili tower house with open air bedroom and roof terrace... fabulous!
Then back to reality... i.e. Nairobi for the fourth time.
Now we unfortuantely have to go back to Sydney for a short break as Mike has been called back to work, but only a short interlude then we're off to Madagascar!
We're sad to leave East Africa, had a great time hear and definately will be back.