Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Living it up in Mombasa

I am still shaking the sand out of my ears while I try to get back into work mode after what I can only describe as a heck of a week in Kenya, specifically Mombasa. I thought I would give regular blog updates on my escapades but I soon realised the extortionist rates for internet accessat the resort I was in would not allow that. You will have to do with the "postmortem" version.

I had heard a lot about Mombasa and I could not wait to go check out the ocean for my first time. Me and my pals left this sunny city on Monday for Nairobi where we would hook up with our Kenyan pals before heading out east to Mombasa for the same conference. We boarded the early Akamba bus with some luggage and copious amounts of Uganda’s finest Waragi.

I hear someone asking what Waragi has to do with anything. We carried a lot of it along for three reasons.

First, anybody who has travelled between Kampala and Nairobi will attest to the fact that the journey is long (12-13 hours) and that it is hardly the smoothest after you cross the border (highways is one area we beat our neighbours in). To keep the journey short and interesting, one needs to sleep heavily and for those who are so inclined, what better way of doing this than downing a few sachets of UG. Beer is discouraged because of the pee breaks associated with it. Second, we always take our Kenyan friends some waragi every time we are over there. They dig the stuff. Third, we had the feeling that the resort we would be staying in was expensive and we didn’t have that much money with us. We thought that it would be a good idea to carry along our own stash for those days when things got tight. No we are not alchoholics, we just like getting high.

The journey went on smoothly until we got to the border and someone brought it to our attention that carrying around all that liquor might bring us trouble from customs officials (it was quite a lot) and that since sachets were banned in Kenya (something to do with their popularity among school kids), our boxes of Waragi sachets would be confiscated. We were not going to have any of this happen so we set about distributing the contraband among us and hiding the sachet boxes as far as possible. Nobody was stopped or questioned and we continued on to Nairobi.

We got to Nairobi just after and we quickly went with our hosts to freshen up and eat something. There was nothing much going on for me in Nairobi except a chance to visit the Maasai market on Tuesday and add to my large collection brass bangles, shell necklaces and leather sandals. We later converged in a bar called Hooters, which was the rendezvous point before heading on to Mombasa.

The shuttles arrived and we left Nairobi for Mombasa around midnight. For some reason I had always imagined that Nairobi and Mombasa were not that far from each other. So when I was told we had another 9 hours to travel my heart sunk a bit.

My apprehension was not misplaced because that journey was wrought with a number of problems. We had hardly moved for an hour before we got a puncture in the dead of the night, in the middle of nowhere. I knew we were gonners because we wouldbe ripe pickings for a bunch of highway robbers (think of it, young lads and lasses, many in various states of inebriation,with money in the pockets). Luckily a patrolcar came by and the cops stayed with us until the tyre was sorted out. 7 or so hours later we had another puncture that was much worse. It cost us 2 hours, a lot of sweat and our tempers. Our tempers, because out of the 24 people on the bus only 4 felt it necessary to give the lone driver some help in changing the tyre. The rest simply sat at a distance and played cards while enquiring every few minutes why it was taking long to get a simple puncture fixed.

All sweaty and tired we got to Mombasa.

I quickly got to learn that there are two very different Mombasas. One is Mombasa city on the north coast, which is mordern and ancient at the same time. The other is mombasa Island (south coast), which is mostly rural and awash with holiday resorts and beachfront apartments.

We crossed from north to south coast on the largest ferry I have ever seen, which was absolutely free.

I found it an amusing coincidence that having never travelled on water my whole life, I found myself on a ferry, crossing two very different water bodies, twice in exactly one month.

After travelling inland for about 30 minutes we got to the place that would keep us blissfully sequestered for the next 3 days. That though will be a story for some other day.

9 comments:

The 0ne said...

This one time I went to Nairobi,man!!Kla->Bus was like riding in an oven

Nbi->Bus was a fridge

Welcome back

savage said...

In the sequel; get to the heart of the action.What went down in the 3 DAYS?

jkb said...

...and while at it, pile up some snaps. Like inktus said, they speak volumes...

Welcome back

baz said...

he's back. He survived!

Degstar said...

yeah dude, wherez the fotos at man?
"we're not alcoholics, we just like getting high" i like that!

Degstar said...

gwe, wats the booty like over dere.

the guys and i, we all drew lots on who shd ask ya and i got the short stick so, wssup with dat?

CountryBoyi said...

yeah, what was the action of the 3 dayz? meanwhile welcome back, blogsphere is glad!

savage said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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