Mombasa - Lamu



Excellent Hotel, Mombasa.


Dear Alex,
I have already written to Leah with the first part of my diary. I thought I'd write to each of you in turn. Please keep the letters for me when I get back. Leah will tell you what's in her letters, will you tell her what's in yours?

I got here OK. Nairobi was pretty grim - caught a bus to Mombasa yesterday - long journey - but saw lots of things - Leah has details.

This morning we were in the Glory Bed and Breakfast - not glorious at all. Breakfast was 2 slices of bread, 2 fried eggs, and jam all on the same plate - I thought it was tomato sauce!! Even you don't eat jam and fried egg sandwiches. We left our bags there and went to Barclays Bank to change some more money as we had run out, and then went to the Tanzanian Embassy to get our visas to go there next week sometime. That didn't take too long, it cost us 110 American dollars for both of us which is about £75.00! Then we went to check out the other hotels as we didn't really like the Glory hole! We found the Excellent which has a bathroom, mosquito nets and a balcony - the toilet actually has a seat - the first I've seen.Dhow in Mombasa We went for a walk to the old town and saw Fort Jesus which is on the Indian Ocean. The old town reminded me of Poros a bit, but not as clean and nice. The people here are very, very poor on the whole and everywhere you go they try and sell you something - a few sweets or nuts - we had a coke and sat by the sea for a while. Saw a fishing boat and a dhow come in, a dhow is an Arab cargo boat and Mombasa is a port famous for spices etc. There are lots of Arab influences here. We went back to the hotel as it gets very hot in the afternoon. We had some lunch - our first veg samosas, spicy potatoes and some passion juice. While we were out Rod had a fresh coconut drink. They sell the coconuts off barrows and cut off the tops for you to drink the milk - they are green still - it was nice. Fresh CoconutsOh I also did some haggling - I bought a necklace like the one Mandy bought for Leah. He wanted 300/- (about £4.00) but I said "No way". It went on for ages, the bloke was really nice and I really wanted to give him the money, anyway I paid 80/- in the end - just under £1.00 - not bad eh?

I had a sleep at the hotel and then we went for a walk again to find out about buses to Lamu, an island north of Malindi - it's supposed to be really nice. We set off on Thursday morning at 7.30 - if it's anything like the bus from Nairobi that probably means 8.30 !! It takes about 8 hours - it's all along the coast and a ferry.

We are now sitting in the roof garden bar on the top of Hotel Splendid - it's hot and sticky. We are drinking Tusker Larger, listening to music - it's very relaxing.

Went and sat outside the Splendid View Cafe (the "splendid view" is the back of the Hotel Splendid) and had supper - then back to the room - early night - slept under mosquito nets.

Wednesday 16/10/96

Fresh fruit and fried eggs for breakfast - not on the same plate. I'm getting a bit tired of eggs! Likoni Ferry ArrivingWe then decided to walk out of town and got on the Likoni ferry. You just all pile on - don't pay - just cars and lorries pay. Saw some big ships - lots of shanty type market stalls at each side. Had a coke at The Office restaurant looking down on the ferries, then walked towards the beach. We were heading for Shelly beach, but didn't quite make that. Likoni Ferry DisembarkingThe beach we found had white sand and palm trees -(in the gardens of the rich nearby) - paddled - the water was like a warm bath. It was too hot to stay for too long. Walked back - saw passion fruit growing - not the ones we call passion fruit, we call them papaya or paw-paw. They grow on small palm like trees in bunches at the top. Caught the ferry back, walked around the coast by a golf club. Stopped for fresh coconut drink and some crisps. They are made at the roadside out of cassava root. We bought a packet with chili flavour which were HOT - back to the Excellent for a snack lunch and rest. Went out for a drink to the Splendid Roof Garden again - decided to have an early night.

Thursday 17/10/96

Up early to get the bus to Lamu - left on time! surprise, surprise - bus journey very dusty and long - saw some monkeys - scenery changed a lot - lots of palm trees. Some of it quite green and English - saw cashew trees. Road changed from tarmac to dust road - we got stopped by the army and had to wait about half an hour for another bus to change a tyre and then all travel together, buses and lorries with armed soldiers on the bus in case of Somali bandits as we were getting closer to the border. Very, very dusty ride. Ferry to LamuGot to Mokowe where we got off the bus to get on ferries - it was madness - they were all after our custom, piling us onto boats - it was about half an hours boat ride to Lamu - there are no cars on the island and the first views are really wonderful - white sands and palm trees. When we got to Lamu town a chap took us to the Lulu HouseLulu Guest House up some narrow streets. It's really lovely - shower, loo, mossie nets and we got it for 800/- a night which is under £10.00. We had a shower - cold - there doesn't seem to be much hot water but the weather is too hot for us to mind - it's a bit of a shock at first though. Then we went for a look around. We were both starving - we'd had no supper last night and no breakfast or lunch today. We bought a cake in Malindi when the bus stopped and some roasted cashews off a boy at another stop. There are loads of donkeys here walking around freely - quite small ones though - Lizzie would love it here. This is where Ondre recommended to come and so far it's been great. Lamu TownWe are sitting in the Serene Vegetarian Restaurant - wow - veggie food - it actually serves fish too - but it's the first place we've found that you can't just have egg and chips so I'm making the most of it!! I'm having spinach (grown on Lamu) pancakes and rice. Food was fine - cats around while we ate don't look too bad here - a bit thin. We are off for a drink now till the sun goes down, then we have to find our room again.

The most exciting thing today was the bus races - because of the clouds of dust they all want to be in front - the road is really pot-holed and rough - so you can imagine what it's like when they all try to overtake each other. At one point we were going flat out with another bus alongside us - he won - all the passengers were screaming and shouting and bouncing all over the place - just like your school bus I should think !! Rod was a bit scared - not like Drayton Manor Park, but I wasn't - he he!

We are having a drink on the roof of a hotel looking out to sea - did you know that the moon here is the wrong way round? Crazy! I bet you knew that - I didn't - it looks really odd.

I shall send this now and carry on for Leah with the next letter. I hope you are behaving yourself. I shall write again soon - don't throw this away as it's my diary as well as a letter to you.