Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kenya Travel, Part III

DAY 6 – Lamu town

After fruit, bagels and poached eggs Mich and Mads and I went to explore Lamu town with Chui, the local tour guide that had greeted us at the airport. The town is an historic mix of Portuguese, Arabic and British influence, with local culture infused throughout. The town was crowded with donkeys and people – but it was clean and relatively prosperous. There was an almost eerie lack of aggressive tourist vendors – whether due to the low season, or just the vibe of the place I’m not sure, but it was nice. Off the main road along the water we walked through the old square, which was packed with loud music playing. Then we walked back into another labyrinth of ‘streets’ just wide enough for two donkeys to pass.

The tall buildings exemplified “green design” by providing shade a cool breeze throughout the streets. They were made of coral reef, which absorbed and held the water after rains, keeping the walls cool to the touch. This practice has been banned to protect the reefs, which will probably die from global warming anyway – aided by the cement production they now use for buildings ;)

We returned to the house for a great lunch of calamari and fries and then took a walk down the beach, where we passed a group of camels sitting in the sand (probably part of a tourist camel-ride, but there were no tourists in site). After a few hundred meters of empty sandy beach, we turned the corner to see… a few thousand more meters of empty sandy beach. We decided that was good enough and took a swim. After the swim (blissfully ignorant of the shark population) a boy about 15 years old showed up with five donkeys and began saddling them up right next to us. I figured it was going to be some donkey ride pitch, and prepared to haggle, but he instead broke out a two-piece shovel, assembled it and began loading up the donkeys with sand. He must have thought we were absolutely crazy wazungus to be swimming in shark-infested waters and lying out on the sand pit.

We strolled back in time to catch a "sun-downer" cruise on one of the old dhow boats that anchored up & down the beach.

It was a beautiful, relaxing cruise and we got the run down from the crew about who owned (movie producers) & was building all of the houses (Kofi Annan), who rented them (princess of Monaco), etc. Lots of building happening, which is sad to see - but most of it pretty close to the beach, so they won't last long anyway.

We got home just in time for a decadent dinner of crab and lobster (which we saw get handed off the boat on the beach that afternoon) followed by another relaxing night of reading and conversation.

DAY 7 – reading & beach

The story starts to get a bit repetitive here… slept in, great breakfast, reading, beach with the babies, great lunch, beach, walk, read, great dinner…

Did I mention there were donkeys everywhere? Eeyores!!

that sinking Sunday feeling settles in, knowing we have to leave tomorrow.

DAY 8 – (Mon)

We took in all we could, hitting the beach in the morning, barely able to pull ourselves from the water (leading to a serious white-boy sunburn for me), in time for one last delicious seafood lunch. We got packed,

walked down to the beach

got back on the speed boat,

another ride in the luggage cart for the girl

through security

An uneventful flight home

where we packed and prepped for the Green Belt Movement before falling into bed