Lazy asses on the beach (see pics!), 7/19-8/5
It’s hard to feel bad about the decision to only see 3 towns in Kenya when one is a town like Lamu. Knowing that we want to spend our last 6 weeks in Uganda, our time in Kenya would have to be limited. We chose to slow things down yet again and spend some time to catch the Lamu vibe; hair of the dog for our post-Zanzibar itch to get right back into it…and by it, I mean “doing absolutely nothing.”
The first 2 hours on the island were a bit intense, as we had to fend off about 6 different guides right out of the gate, eagerly waiting to unload our bags from the ferry. We were waaaaaaaaay outnumbered, so we were forced to adopt the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality…and guide number 7 was the winner. I left Elizabeth with the bags and hit the streets to choose the cheapest and cleanest place to stay, and with mission accomplished, we were able to get our holiday within a holiday started.
We spent 3 days wandering Lamu old town; narrow alleyways with little shops selling everything from clothes/shoes/food/overpriced souvenirs, mosques, veiled women, and more donkey $!*# than we had ever seen! We moved 3 km down the island to Shela Beach for the next 2 weeks; GIANT sand dunes, long shoreline, some big waves, and enough romance and beauty to remind us every day how lucky we were to be here!
We were lucky enough to meet some fun travelers (John and Allison – 1 yr, 3 mo into traveling the world from San Diego; Annie and Stephan – also world travelers, from England and Australia; Jesus and Sara from Spain; my homeboy Michael from Germany; Charles and co. from Amsterdam to name a few) at our hotel (with its FABULOUS rooftop terrace overlooking the ocean!), so the days went by quickly. We were also lucky enough that guys carrying coolers (ok, they were baskets) of fresh (by fresh I mean sometimes still alive) seafood came by our door everyday to see what we wanted for dinner – crabs, prawns, squid, grouper, and oysters just to name a few. With 3 guys on staff (see picture) who seriously knew how to cook (the chili sauce was AMAZING) and were willing to stock our fridge with cheap beers, we were set!
Since the island is 99% Muslim, it means nearly everyone is fasting ALL day (6:30 – 6:30) for Ramadan, and most places are closed until night. With nothing to do but walk, swim, and go boating, we slipped into simple living…with the exception of a few really cool, totally excellent adventures:
- Evening dhow trip with our friends, bonfire with grilled seafood dinner on the beach and a captain nice enough to make sure we were fully stocked up with cold bevs before setting sail:)
- Seeing baby sea turtles hatch! Because only 1/1000 make it to adulthood, a hotel on the island has started a major conservation project, actually employing former poachers to guard sea turtles who come to lay eggs on Manda Island and their babies. Paying double what poachers would get, they take turtles caught in nets and measure, clean and tag them for release back into the ocean.
- Beautiful walk around Manda Island; GINORMOUS waves crashing into coral cliffs from the open Indian Ocean and only 1 person on our path in 2 1/2 hours!
- Relaxing poolside at fancy pants hotel after said long walk
- Finding out that I’m horrible at water skiing, but that it was fun to try!
- *Tried* to teach our German friend Michael how to do yoga on the beach/entertained anyone stupid enough to watch us (Fun fact: Besides being less than flexible, Michael and I also happen to both LOVE The Beach Boys)
- May or may not have indulged Elizabeth with a little more pseudo wedding planning
- Got carbolicious with too-many-loaves-to-admit delicious, freshly baked breads from Sabrina’s bakery (cinnamon raisin, onion bagels, rosemary bread)
Two and a half weeks went by way too fast, but now it’s off to Mombasa for a day of souvenir shopping (kangas, pronounced “kongas” not ” kan-GAS” and rosewood at the top of our list!) and to see the old town before we fly to Kampala August 7th!
And PS…in case you were curious, yes Lamu and Zanzibar are similar in that they are both Swahili beach towns, but it was incredible the differences you can pick up on when you have time to be somewhere longer than just a few days! And if you were worried because you had heard rumors about the safety here, don’t be! They WERE true, but now it’s safer than ever thanks to vamped up security to protect their tourism economy and this added spotlight.
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