Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Living it up in Mombasa 2

Mombasa’s south coast is a truly magnificent place to get away to and unwind. The fact that it is mostly rural means it is very peaceful, idyllic and beautiful.

On the way to the hotel we passed a few small hamlets and sleepy towns where nobody seemed to be in a hurry. These people must be used to shuttle buses filled with tourists, otherwise I do not see how, considering the near absence of vehicular traffic, a bus full of rowdy singing young fellows could be treated with such indifference.

We were booked into the Alliance hotel. Actually it is three hotels that share the same strip of coastline and are under the same management. The Alliance Jardini hotel and the Alliance Safari hotel are you typical modern hotels, but our hotel the Alliance Africana Sea Lodge was somewhat different. It was made up of (Bandas) Cottages that had a bit of a homely feel to them.

To say that the days went by to fast would be a bit of an understatement because either I was living it up ‘til the wee hours or I was dozing off during the plenary sessions. The activities organised ensured that there was no time to get bored.

The thing about such conferences is that you can be sure that the current host wants to outdo the previous one, and the Mombasans went all out. I had never had of an all night open bar for close to 1,000 people but that is exactly what I experienced on the welcoming night at the Neptune Paradise Hotel.

The taps flowed all night and the guests’ attempts to dry them were all but futile. Throw into the mix a Barcelona Vs Arsenal champions league final and you know that things were bound to get heated. This was the second time that I was watching a champion’s league final this far from home. Like the last time I wasn’t really bothered who would win, which is not what I can say about all the people around me. As it turned down the majority of chaps were on the losing side and the poor beer kegs had to pay for their foul moods. Suffice it to say that when the bus came to pick up those of us who were not staying at the Neptune, quite a number had lost all sense of coherence and balance.

There is something about people that makes them undergo major transformations when they are away from home. This I bring up for a number of reasons, the main one being that I noticed that a number of fellows who are ordinarily calm and reserved whilst in our sunny town had metamorphosed into drinking (admittedly only soft drinks like Smirnoff ice, tusker malt lager and white cap) skirt-chasing fellows. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that girlfriends and nosy prying workmates were not around. Or maybe it was all the nubile young females that took the proximity to the beach as an excuse to dress as skimpily as is legally allowed.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that there was an atmosphere of reckless abandon but I wouldn’t be far from the truth. It seems some chaps were on a mission to get laid as many times and with as many different people as possible. Soon some of us, whose ambitions did not go further than making lasting acquaintances with the barmen and the occasional late night skinny-dipping in the pool start to look out of place.

A word of advise my young unworldly friends (yeah right I hear you say). If ever in a situation where everything around you is appealing and you feel you want it all, calm the hell down and strategise properly. This one chap was laying on the lyrics to a girl one minute and talking to another girl the next. This left a number of less than amused lasses who fell for the charms of the more attentive hyenas lurking in the shadows. At the end of the evening Sir Wanderalot was left to nurse a pint while cursing his buddies for daring to busu (his words) him.

I did manage to make an interesting observation, a few of the Kampala ladies who ordinarily tend to treat me only slightly better than they would treat what the proverbial cat tends to drag around started saying hi more often and asking why I wasn’t playing water polo with them. Trust competition to bring on such a change. With all the hot-blooded young lads running after the equally hot-blooded Kenyan University students and trying to woo the hot Ethiopians, albeit with little success (Ethiopian guys can tight mark like a problem), some people were feeling decidedly ignored. Being the magnanimous chap, I decided to make their Mombasa sojourn more interesting (things are a bit awkward now that we are back home).

So it was always the same around the pool and the beach during the afternoon and around the pool and the hotel discothèque every evening. Friendships being made and strengthened, international goodwill and understanding being promoted and general merrymaking all over.

I know the “major” reason for attending was to conference, but a quick perusal of the programme told me that the beach was going to win out on the conference hall most of the time. The talk on stock options as a means of saving was immediately thrown out because I have nothing to save. I felt I could probably give a better talk on youth and sexuality so I passed. Public speaking I attended just to give time to housekeeping to do their job. I only attended the technical rotary stuff because somebody felt that as an incoming director I had to prepare some kind of report.

It’s a pity I never got to go back to the north coast to visit the town properly, but I cannot say I really regret it. There was more than enough to keep a brother busy in our little nook of paradise. There will always be next time and the having been bitten by the Mombasa bug. It won’t be long before I am back.


Mataachi said...

busy quoting a young al pacino the godfather, "ahhh...that little farce you pulled! you think it would fool an (Mataachi!)... you're keeping the gory details for your diary, ain't ya?" mbu we only played water polo...! oh wait, this is an euphemism, right? (wink! wink!)

shoulda taken more pictures!!! are there sunset and dawn pictures? those are my faves. please tell me you have some and they are coming up!

baz said...

Dude, if you think the beach was for maxing you should have visited the town! Mombasa people really mean it when they say Hakuna Matata.