Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sorry - War and Peace - Mombassa a freebie

Hi Everyone,

at last someone in Kenya has treated me!!!!! A surprise trip….. Mombassa , sun, sea and lots of sand! Tried to keep it short but you know me!

Faisal, an old acquaintance from 2006 suddenly appeared when we were out a couple of weeks ago. Since then he has been in touch quite a lot…. I think he has a thing for Edwina. He asked where we hadn’t been and what plans we had for the holiday weekend. Not difficult answers we hadn’t been to many places in Kenya and we had no plans for the weekend, we decided that Mombassa was top on the list of places that we would like to go to.

No sooner said than done, he arranged for a ‘business trip’ to coincide with the weekend. To our benefit he was driving down and took Catherine, Edwina and I with him. The preparation was mad, we bought Catherine a bikini from the matumba (second had stalls) got it washed and dried before we left, I had to locate my ‘holiday’ clothes including doing a bit of alteration to my bikinis which had grown baggy in the bottom as mine has reduced! The animals were provided food for and Henry was left in charge, I did have to get Joe my friendly electrician in to add a switch outside so Henry could turn on the security lights himself as all the switches are inside the house, this was completed as we loaded the car with our bags ready to leave.

Bags packed and loaded we left Nakuru at approx 7.30pm for a night drive down to the coast in the cool of the night and without a lot of traffic in order to make the most of the Friday and Saturday for the beach and the Faizals business transactions. En route he had arranged to collect a ‘new to him’ car in Nairobi this little rendezvous was interesting as we had to offload all our things out of one car into another in the dark in a petrol station…… looked dodgy if I have to say so myself.

We stopped a couple of times en route for required toilet stops, food and drink, a truck breakdown (his business), we arrived in Mombassa at 5.30am only a 10 hour drive and then started the hunt for somewhere to stay, this minor arrangement hadn’t been made as Faizal wasn’t sure where we wanted to be, we had no idea either, other than by the beach.

After many attempts of finding somewhere we could afford, ie v. cheap he called someone he knew who ran a chalet hotel resort and got us booked in and paid for. We checked out the room which had 4 beds and were told the 4th would be removed… we all sighed a sigh of relief….. were worried Faizal had planned on joining us but were wrong! We went straight to the supermarket and collected supplied of munchies, a 5 ltr bottle of water and fruit, we still had some scotch pancakes and chapattis that we had cooked for the trip.

Faizal left us at Alloha where we explored our surroundings…. At this point we found that we were right on the beach which was white sand as far as you could see. We went back to the room and put on out swimmers and headed to the beach for a well earned soak in the sea to relax our aching bodies from the drive.

Catherine is a non swimmer who has been no where near a pool or beach….. it took some convincing to get her to stand in the water let alone ‘play’ in it…. She was on a mission to learn to swim though……. We only had two days! After a couple of hours (it was now 11ish) we decided to go back to the room and nap as it was getting too hot and the beach boys had honed in on us as the beach was deserted.

We had a nap after fighting with the fans and the aircon, sleep was a struggle but what we got was definitely needed. We lounged around and read until the heat of the mid day had passed, we then went back to the beach, played and got Catherine practicing floating in the shallows (no mean feat). We were a constant attraction to the men selling rides on:- camels, sail boats, glass bottom boats, jet skis, sailboards and gigolo's, not to mention the ladies offering massage, fruit and henna tattoos.

Needless to say the tourism market has suffered badly and even Mombassa is suffering as an example we managed to get a ride for all three of us for an hour on a Dhow for 500ks total, we had been asked by most people for 1,500ks each as a starting price. The guys we went with were really nice and happy to take us when they found we were broke volunteers with lots of stories and no money, besides we told them that three ‘babes’ would help promote their boat. They were very decent and not in the slightest with other things on their agenda. It was a fabulous hour and we were sorry that it ended, even Catherine began to relax by the end of it and was smiling and happy. We had lots of long long long walks along the shallows, which were bath water temperature, the outside temp being 33degrees C by the cars readout. We were in heaven, this trip was a long dreamt of trip that I could never manage to afford to arrange.

Faizal picked us up in the evening we weren’t sure if we were eating or clubbing afterwards, we dressed up for the occasion and found that he took us to the ‘old town’ we wished he had told us as being so Muslim our dress code was definitely not suitable. We refused to get out of the car at the first place he pulled up at as it was full of women clad from head to toe in black burkas, there was NO WAY we would have got out of there alive, besides which we felt so disrespectful to their heavy requirement for good dress code, something that Faizal was oblivious to even though he is Muslim, his defence was that he was struck by the fact that we were so gorgeous he didn’t think.

He took us to another place that was a pavement food bar where he pre ordered the food and when it arrived it was a plate full of goat kabab, something that we all tried in vain to eat and none of us enjoyed other than FAIZAL……. When asked if they did salad or vegetables he said what chicken, none of us quite understood that, but, no they didn’t do either. We were still gawped at by all the other families who were sitting at the tables to the degree that we asked to leave as it was too uncomfortable to stay any longer. We then left and went on a FAIZAL challenge to find fresh coconuts to drink the milk, duly found we were given one each to down followed by a large slice of palm heart, neither of which sat well on top of the forced swallowing of the kebabs. We returned to our chalet with a reluctant FAIZAL who had been busy chewing Myrrah all evening, (a plant stem which is chewed by many men by the kilo bags in order to help them stay awake and functioning all night), he was ready to head to the nearest nightclub, we on the other hand were ready for a good sleep after a day at the beach, we won, he headed off to visit his relatives for a night of more Myrrah chewing.

Next morning (Saturday) we got up for an interesting breakfast…. Fawlty Towers re-run. We went for a long long walk again on the beach accompanied by many interested parties, how many camels can they get on a beach and how many times must you say you don’t want a trip to a lonely beach cove for ‘swimming for two’.

This was the day that we got our Dhow trip and walked along the beach for lunch at a fish b-b-q, Catherine and I had Coconut rice instead as the fish smelt so so so bad, but Edwina said it was fab! We also checked out a place called Pirates that we had been told did music and dancing in the evening. We wandered back to the room and slept ready for our evening of dancing to which we did invite Faizal along, he said he would join us later as he was busy.

We decided to dress down for this occasion after the reception we got the night before, we opened our treasured bottle of merlot that we had treated ourselves to in the supermarket, we preened ourselves, which in the heat was a total waste of time. I ended up with amazing ringlets due to the shower water being salt water but we were sweating buckets which had a detrimental effect on our appearances, makeup just slid. We decided it was dark and no one would notice, in traditional girls night out, don’t give a dam attitude.

The walk up the beach was interesting after dark there were NO beach boys for a start and all the hotels, bars and restaurants had their variety of lights illuminating the beach so we were never in total darkness, other than the spot that I found to answer a nature call. We arrived at Pirates some half an hour later wandered in and made ourselves at home in a prime seat by the door at the beach side of the building, we then joined the dancing throng, some short time later we realised that no one was over 21! We had come so early it was junior disco and no one had let us know, we joined in anyway.

We then ventured outside and danced in the sand and then the surf…… bad move dropped camera in the sea……oops! Kind of put a dampers on the evening cried loads at the foolishness of it all and the wine didn't help. Faizal came to pick us up at 11.30pm to go to another club but our spirits had plunged to an all time low because of the camera. We went home. Faizal went off to the club by himself and apparently spent a fab night chewing myrrah. Got up in the morning and with a clear head looked at the camera..... turned out to be Catherine's brothers camera, I was horrified and relieved all in one, pleased that I didn't lose mine but so so upset that I had dropped his camera and I also had to break the news to Catherine. I called her brother and told him later, better I did it than Catherine I think!

We checked out at 10am after breakfast and a walk on the beach, two hours later Faizal, after many phone calls, appeared to pick us up, he had been out until 7am and he was driving home or so we thought………. We went shopping en route for various items that he wanted for stocking his kitchen cupboards, things that I had no idea what they were called or how to cook them……… the places we went to to buy them were even more interesting and we were haggled by up to 6 people at a time for best buys and didn’t once leave the car to go in a shop! We on the other hand bought coconuts to give as gifts. We stocked up at supermarket for lunch things, and Faizal leapt out of the car to have a biryani en route that he had ordered, he left us in the car with the a/c going and engine running, which caused the alarm to go off and he was no where to be seen, we eventually managed to stop the alarm but had no engine or ac and were parked in full sunshine, Faizal appeared unperturbed a little while later and we set off home in daylight, so much for our early start, it was now 3pm.

We were rewarded by views of the landscape that we had missed when we came as it was night-time, unusual baobab trees that looked fabulous and brought back memories of a story I read as a child. The roadside villages and terrain with flat stretches of land with rolling hills surrounding it. We drove through the heat of the sun and then intermittent torrential rain which ran along the sides of the roads in deep fast running natural gullies of red soil, the vegetation looked so vivid green after the rains almost surreal in appearance against the Mombassa red soil and the blue skies.

The locals who were walking in the middle of no where were unperturbed by the heavy rains and just continued their journeys as if it were still sunshine, their destination the only thing on their minds. We arrived in Nairobi at about 9pm where Catherine met up with her brother, they went together to her mothers as she was unwell. We continued our journey also picking up Faizals brother to take him with us to Nakuru, we also managed to stop for Pizza (well needed) whilst waiting for him aprox 2 hours.

Edwina and I slept the last part of the journey got home about 12.30am, emptied the bags from the car, Faizal and his brother left, I said hi to the dogs and cat and dived into bed, with paka who was pleased to see me return even though I was exhausted.

The cough I have had for about 2 weeks is still with me and didn't get left in Mombassa as I had hoped, in actual fact it is worse than ever, I must be driving everyone crazy, I know it is me.
Mombassa mission had been accomplished and only spent 1,000ks (10 pounds roughly).

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