Just back from the lovely coast of Kenya, a relaxing place where beach boys serenade and then..ask for money. Lindi and I met a few interesting characters on our trip.
We took the train from Nairobi to Mombasa, a 15 hours trip, indeed polo pole. No high speed trains in Kenya. In fact we spotted a matatu passing us on the road beside the tracks. Life on the train passed quickly as we made friends in the dining carraige, ordering wine and Tuskers. A remant from the past, there were little tables with greyish tableclothes and service where you wish you brought your own cork screw as it does take quite a while to open a bottle of wine...
After a bumpty sleep on the top bunk, we arose to the warm winter sun of the coast and the pine tree vistas. Children waved by the train tracks and many begged
We watched the world cup with a fellow expatriot from Ireland. I had my Spanish jersey from Spain, 3 sizes too big. It read 'Espana' on the back so I was pleased to be on the winning side for a change. We sat in an open square and paid a few shillings for chairs. We hugged and celebrated Spain's win despite losing electricty along the way, we just about managed to watch the world cup in its entirety
Another night, we stumbled across a muslim wedding. I heard beautiful music coming from the stairs above a restuarant and slipped upstairs only to be invited to take off my shoes and sit with other muslim women as we waited for the bride to arrive
'Just wait', they said, 'She will be here soon'
Always an alarming reponse in Kenya as 'just wait' could mean one hour or several. I was wearing a mini dress and my hair was uncovered, very risky attire given the situation
The brides mother inisted we cover our hair with our head scarves
'I dont have one', I responded, getting ready to leave
Suddenly, brightly coloured scarves were hurled in our direction
'Take a seat' which mtranslates 'squat on the floor'
Great, its not easy aquatting in a mini dress
My legs were gangly and bare, so I knelt down as the pins and kneedles ached
The bride never came...so during one of the many dances and songs, I bolted to the door with Lindi, lmy head scarf flying off my head, landing beside our muslim sisters
'Take some deserts with you', one girl offered...so i did
Then off to a night club, the brothel known as 'florida'
And as you might imagine, we were the only women paying for our drinks. The rest had to work for them
I was trying to watch the Germany vs Uruguay match but kept getting distracted by prostitutes in Sharon Stone costumes, legs uncrossed
Another quick exit
Then off to the lovely Lamu
We stayed on Shella beach, and spent our days sun bathing and chatting with locals including...
The Masai warriors of the coast, friendly chaps who wanted us to buy their jewellery
and beach boys who wanted us to pay for Dhow trips
Life on the beach is relaxing but the night life is interesting. You have to take a boat to the night club or a donkey, a little different from home
There we met Satan, the manager of Petleys and friends from other places
Several drinks later, myself and Lindi boarded a Dhow boat bound for Shella
The fuel had ran out so we drifted in the ocean several minutes with 3 drunken men from Petleys. Then after picking up some fuel from another boat, the engine broke down
Thanks to the whiskeys, we found the situation quite amusing. Eventually, the engine was given a kick start, and off we went, with one the beach boys singing 'Maria Maria' in my honour
I had told him I was married. He asked if my husband was still alive
'Yes', I replied. 'He is a young man'
Then he actually pretended to jump off the boat at the thought of my husband still living..
Eventually , we made our way to Shella, in one piece
Life is more serious in Nairobi, with talk of upcoming constitution on August 4th. I'll write again soon with tales of constitution mayhem. Its bound to be dramatic..