I was woken up by a Muezzin at 4.45am on a Saturday morning. Since I was on holiday I was not amused but that is the peril of lodging next to a mosque.
Try as I might I could not seem to be able to go back to sleep so I finally got out of bed and spent a couple of hours reflecting on my life. Very fruitful that was. So in retrospect, thank you Mr. Muezzin.
When I was done reflecting I left the hotel room and took a matatu to the ferry. I was in luck since folk were just boarding and I did not have to wait for long. Ever since the Mtongwe ferry accident I always have jitters when crossing over with the ferry. I was pleased to note that the new ferries take half the time to get across (7min) and there is still no charge to the passengers. Jitters aside the journey across is pretty scenic and I also got to marvel at a big ship.
Getting off the ferry I walked through a very boisterous market with vendors calling out loudly for customers for all the manner of foodstuffs that were laid out tantalizingly. It was quite a sensory experience.
My destination was Diani beach but as since I was in Likoni I was curious to see more about it so I walked around and got the vibe of the place. Remember that Likoni was the scene of the 1997 elections violence and also this is the home of many of the MRC cadre.
I was shocked by the abject poverty that hit me bang in my face everywhere I looked and walked. I lack words to express it so I will just say that Likoni is very very run down. It was in Likoni that I saw my first ‘Pwani si Kenya’ graffiti live and that sent a shiver down my spine.
After my sobering walkabout Likoni I took a matatu to Ukunda. The journey from Likoni to Ukunda was a transition from bad to worse. The abject poverty continued being evident with run down houses, half built houses and uncultivated land dotting both sides of the road.
Getting to Ukunda, the transformation was amazing. Ukunda is the gateway into Diani and one notices the difference immediately. The abject poverty is replaced by a semblance of normality which I guess serves to prepare one for Diani.
I took a matatu from Ukunda to Diani and I asked to alight at the beach. I had never been here before but this been the coast there was actually a stage named Beachi!
The drive from Ukunda to Diani revealed the obscene wealth that is in Diani. Private villas and exclusive hotels that dot the roadside tell you that this is rich man territory. I was surprised to find a Nakumatt Diani. Nakumatt is EVERYWHERE!
When I alighted at Beachi I could not see any beach in the vicinity. So I sat at the pub that was right where I alighted and watched the start of a wedding between a Kenyan woman and European man. Before I could order a drink I noticed a Maasai man walking on the roadside then disappearing. Something told me that was the way to the beach that I was looking for. I followed him quickly and by jove it was! Finally after a couple of days at the coast, I was on a beach.
I ordered a beer and just appreciated the ocean. There is something about the endlessness of it that is enthralling and that makes one stare at it for hours on end. I would have kept staring at the ocean were it not for a group of young boys who were splashing and swimming and seemingly having so much fun. They motivated me to chuck my sneakers, leave them at the banda with the bartender and just walk the beach.
Upon getting to the beach I could have gone either left or right. On a whim I chose left and that turned out to be a brilliant decision.
I walked for roughly half an hour and randomly found myself at Forty Thieves which I had heard so much about. I was barefoot but could not resist walking in. I then saw a sign for Ali Barbour Cave and I just had to get in there. I asked for directions and the folks told me that it opened at 7pm and one needed three day advance booking to get a dinner reservation. I explained that I just wanted to see the inside and finally they let me in.
Let me draw you the picture, I am barefoot, I am at Ali Barbour Cave, I am all excited! I was like a kid in a candy shop. They had laid out the china for dinner and the cave was all lit up. It was magical! Totally awesome moment this was and it was even more exciting because of the spontaneity of it.
Got back to Forty Thieves and had a drink as I chatted with Mwanza who has worked there for three years. He was very proud of the fact that they never have high or low season as all year round they had clientele and the staff worked two shifts (7am-7pm and 7pm-7am).
Still giddy with excitement I started my walk back to the banda so as to collect my sneakers. I was practically singing and dancing and enjoying water lapping at my feet as the tide ebbed and flowed. I could have been acting out a ‘Life’s good’ advert!
Got back to the banda, picked my shoes then struck up a conversation with the bartender. He told me that the bandas and the live band by the ocean were a Kim4Love venture. He also informed me that the buildings that were run down were originally part of the Two Fishes Hotel that burned down awhile back.
By the time I got back to the roadside it had already gotten dark and the wedding was just wrapping up. Scents of pilau wafted through the air but since I anxious about getting back to Mombasa I passed up the opportunity to gatecrash a Coastal wedding and enjoy the delicacies.
Crossed over to Island on the ferry in the dark and it was nice to see the lit up night view of Mombasa.
Dinner, shower and drinks in that order were then enjoyed to crown a very wonderful day at the Coast.
To be continued..
GOD BLESS KENYA!