A weekend on the Coast

Last Wednesday, Tom and I resumed our travelling fun.  We were off to the beach for a relaxing weekend by the sea.  With plenty of Tuskers. Naturally.Now seasoned night-bus-ers, we hopped on MASH coach’s finest vehicle ready for the 8 hour ride to Mombasa.  At our one toilet pit stop, I was proud and alarmed by the ease and comfort with which I strolled into the ladies “hole in the floor, with no door, or paper, or water” bathrooms.  I’m definitely turning Kenyan.

We arrived in Mombasa at 6, earlier than scheduled.  Lonely Planet let us down, as it promised us many a lovely breakfast hole in the Old Town.  There were none.  So armed only with my bus stash of crackers, nuts, and sweets (very kindly forced on me by my surrogate family), we sat on the wall of Mombasa fort, and devoured a less than satisfying feast.

Having passed through Mombasa on our way to the beach on numerous occasions, we decided to take a day seeing the sights of Mombasa town.  But when you start the walking tour at 6.30… Suffice it to say that by 9.30 we had seen the whole of Mombasa, had sweated enough to fill a swimming pool given the rising heat, and had sprouted afros given the humidity. Sat in the museum at Fort Jesus, I turned to Tom saying “all I want is a beer”.  Then we had a good old giggle, realising that by 10 we had done a full day’s tourism.  We headed to the beach.

We spent our first afternoon happily lying on the beach and by the camp swimming pool. It was amazing.  We immediately resurrected the possibility of moving to Diani Beach to open a restaurant / beer stand on the beach.  There was a highly amusing interlude when a cheeky monkey ran down to our poolside table and stole away with Tom’s tobacco, scurrying up into the nearby mango tree.  Enraged, Tom stood beneath the tree, throwing baby mangoes at the monkey.  Missing badly.  Eventually the monkey dropped the tobacco, and promptly ran into someone else’s kitchen.

Day 2: Much the same as the previous day, we spent the day on the beach.  We met up with our good friends Captain Ananas, Eric and Abu- who conjured up a lovely fish bbq on the beach, with rice and kachumbari salad.  And we drank “bia”.  (No prizes for guessing).  In the evening we went to Ali Barbour’s cave for dinner.  This was as a result of a wildly wrong Lonely Planet price guide, and a ridiculous recommendation from friends.  The restaurant is situated in an ancient coral cave, open air, and is lighted by fairy lights.  Seafood only.  Very, very swanky.  Not entirely suitable for me and Tom in our shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops.  (And near empty wallets).  We had crabs, yummy- but made a swift exit back to the bar of the camp site.

Day 3:  We were up bright and early.  Too bright.  Too early.  Anyway, we had booked a day trip to Wasimi Island – and the Kiteme National Marine Park.  We were going to watch dolphins and go snorkelling.  Not before an hour’s bum-numbing drive in a safari van.  Note to the public – do not fear, Tom’s shoulder survived the bumps.

We arrived at the entrance to the park, and boarded our ship.  A big wooden sailing ship.  The guides announced their disclaimer: dolphins are wild creatures, there is no guarantee of seeing any.  We left port.  5 minutes later, “OVER THERE”.  The dolphins had arrived in force.  Reaction to dolphins in 2 words:  BIG, and UNPHOTOGENIC.  We have many pictures of fins in the sea.  After a while of fin-spotting, we sailed off to the marine park.  A one-hour sail across the luscious blue waves.

Then the moment came to jump off into the sea, with miles of unspoiled corals to explore.  I was feeling very smug, having just purchased Tom his prescription goggles so we could actually snorkel together, as opposed to me swimming, him watching from the boat.  The corals were so lovely, and of course we spotted many a madly coloured fish: including some little Nemos lurking in an anemone.

Next stop on the day trip was lunch.  At a restaurant that can only be accessed by boat.  We were served up crabs, and given a good old log of wood to bash the crabs open with.  One bash from me resulted in the (rotten) claw exploding and firing crab goo all over me.  Not nice.  Check the other end, a guide helpfully said.  Bash number 2:  crab goo in the eye.  Looking mortified, the chef ran over, whisking away my plate.. and returning ceremoniously with the biggest crab claw available – it was awesome.

Lunch was followed by a walk on Wasimi Island.  No electricity.  No running water.  And weeeeird looking coral gardens.

After returning back to camp, and spending another hour or two lazing in the pool… it was time for date night. And this time we were doing it proper Tom and Gabi style.

We hopped on a matatu into Diani “village”, and rocked up to what was clearly THE nyama choma stop in town.  The only two mzungus walking in, we did our usual catwalk to a spare seat, and ordered Tuskers while people’s interest slowly dwindled.  We ordered our food:  roast meat.  No cutlery.

So there we were, elbow deep in meat – sucking on bones to get all the juicy scraps… and gulping down cold Tusker.  We certainly give a new meaning to the word “date”… but it was the best date ever 🙂

Sunday we spent the day in the pool- enjoying our last hours of sun,relaxation, and tobacco stealing monkeys (take 2) before heading back into Mombasa to get the bus back to Nairobi.



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