Kenya: Tiwi beach, dolphins at Wasini island and a lot of doing nothing.

Sweet Beach life in Mombasa

This is part 6 of my Kenya travel diary; part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5

All those letters, don’t you have a video, so I don’t have to read them all? Sure we have:

Just landed at Mombasa Airport I book a room in a mid-sized resort an hour’s drive south of the city. Originally I wanted to take the overnight train but couldn’t manage a booking at such short notice and the flight was way cheaper anyway. A big part of Mombasa lies on an island at the mouth of Tudor Creek with a huge natural harbour that made it a prime target for conquerors; Arabs, Portuguese, Omani and finally the English. Maybe that explains why the town feels a lot older and European to me. Traffic in general is not as bad as in Nairobi but more or less all of it has to cross one bridge or – leaving town southwards – one ferry that keeps going back and forth with 1.000s of pedestrians on it.

View from my giant room on the giant pool all to myself.

View from my giant room on the giant pool all to myself.

I arrive at the Amani resort on Tiwi beach and treat myself to a serious cultural shock. After 2 weeks of more or less authentic Kenya with small hotels and guest houses, occasionally travelling by bus and talking to locals, I’m suddenly back in an enclave of western luxury. The place seems deserted, later one of the barmen tells me that of nearly 400 beds only a good 30 are occupied right now, creating a somewhat unusual ratio of employees to guests. The attacks of terrorist militia Al-Shabab in the preceding months brought Kenyan tourism to it’s knees quite thoroughly.

This boat has clearly seen better days, but it makes for a nice motive...

This boat has clearly seen better days, but it makes for a nice motive…

The following days are a real treat, I switch over to All-Inclusive for an extra 15$ a day, stick to a strict no-carbs-diet, work-out twice a day and start drinking G & Ts even before teatime. Sitting at the beach my only real task is to tell the armada of “beach boys” that they won’t get any business from me. It’s hard really. For these guys I’m incredibly rich, so of course I pick one or two to support while I’m there, buying at least some hand-roasted cashews, some Aloe against my sunburns and the occasional herb-cigarette to finish a day of recuperation.

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One day I book a snorkling trip to Wasini Island just north of the border with Tanzania. The people on the boat are a strange mix. One or two Europeans (old & ugly) with their african wifes (young & beautiful), some well-to-do Kenyans and a lot of tourists with an even more limited view of the country than I have.

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The whole coast and the uncounted small islands are made of ancienct corrals turned into hard rock, constantly shaped by the tides. The snorkling is amazing, I think I have never seen so many fish, starfish and coral in all my live. The latter give me a long-lasting memory as I get startled once by some animal. When it touches my legs I turn around and scrape my foot at something I thought of as a rock in the beginning. Must have been something else, 3 months later you can still see a red patch.

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After that is lunch in beachside restaurant with a delicious red crab. I’m seated with a lovely couple from Nairobi and two young women from Germany who work for an NGO in Uganda and Kenya respectively, meeting for a short holiday. They are demonstratively detached regarding life in Africa in general and I’m not sure if their coolness and brusqueness isn’t a cover for something else. When one of the organizers asks if we want to take a walk around the village, I look at him and ask “what’s special about the village”, the answer “it’s a real african village” makes the three of us laugh. But I understand now that for most tourists this is as real and authentic as it gets, they book everything through an agency or the hotel, they get picked up and of course they would never take a ride in an unlicensed taxi. In fact they already feel courageous for coming to Kenya at all, with all the dire warnings their governments post on the internet.

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I while away the next days with a visit to a hairdresser (unsuccesful but entertaining) walks along the beach, more G & Ts, some small interviews and big pile of not doing much. Sadly, just when I feel strong enough for new adventures, it’s time to finally head back to Europe.

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Even though a lot of the things I had planned for this trip didn’t happen, I still collected so many new impressions and learned so much about myself – not all of it good, that Kenya will stay with me for a very long time, and hopefully I might be able to return one day.

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One comment on “Kenya: Tiwi beach, dolphins at Wasini island and a lot of doing nothing.
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