|Monday saw us getting up at 6.00am for our early morning flight to Mombasa on Kenya's East Coast. Mombasa's main attractions are the beautiful beaches and marine reserve that run both North and South of the city for about 50km. Although it was an early start, everybody was ready on time as Patricia & Leon in particular were looking forward to spending a few days on a beach. The one hour flight was uneventful but it did give us the opportunity to see the top of Mount Kilimanjaro just across the border in Tanzania.
After an hour drive up the coast, we arrived in the Travellers Beach hotel, just in time for lunch. We had opted for a full-board package for about E55 per person/day and although I am new to the idea of all-in hotel packages, I must admit that I enjoyed the 4 days only having to worry about what time breakfast, lunch and dinner started !! The first afternoon, we just chilled by hanging out at our pool and by walking the beach, where we were joined by a family of vervet monkeys, whilst in the evening, we sampled the excellent buffet at the hotels restaurant.
As Wednesday was a major election day in Kenya, regarding the acceptance of a new constitution, we decided to head into Mombasa on Tuesday to avoid any of the postelection violence that cost the lives of 1500 Kenyans at the 2007 National Elections. Fortunately, this time out there was no trouble as 70% of the populations finally opted for the new constitution and the No camp graciously accepted defeat !
So on Tuesday after jumping onto a 50c Matatu (mini-bus) trip into the city, we headed to "the Tusks", a set of arches in the shape of Elephant tusks on one of the main roads into Mombasa so Patricia could photograph them. Having taken our pictures, Agnes suddenly recognised a man nearby ! It turned out to be her cousin Peter, who had moved to Mombasa 11 years earlier and whom she had not seen since she moved to Holland. Contact restored, Peter ended up being our tour guide for the next two hours around the city.
Mombasa is a very busy city of 800,000 people that has a rich history a major trading post on the African coast. Arabs, Indians, Africans, Portuguese and the British have controlled the city and the relevant trade in the Indian Ocean. The run-down old town has many buildings from each era but the most impressive of these is Fort Jesus, a castle that was built by the Portuguese as a garrison in the 15th century. The castle is still in good condition and both the kids and the adults enjoyed the tour around the old fort. After a quick walk though the old town, it was back to the hotel where we enjoyed another good meal and a drink at the bar.
Wednesday saw us take a boat tour into the Marine reserve where the kids had the chance to snorkel amongst the many multi-coloured fish and see some of the local wildlife as well as enjoy the sea air. Otherwise we spent most of the time just sleeping, reading books and messing about in the pool. Patricia, Leon and I were still getting used to each other and although the moods changed with the weather and everybody had their own rhythm, we all still managed to enjoy ourselves. Our goodbye meal on Thursday night was therefore a lot of fun, with everyone messing about and taking photos of each other before finishing with a pool competition which the "boys" won easily, of course !
Friday morning saw us head back to Nairobi, where the girls spent the afternoon in the beauty salon and Leon spend about 2.5 hours in a local cafe updating me on the subtleties of playing FIFA2008 on his PlayStation Portable. In between, Agnes and her Safari guide brother George were trying to organise a 4x4 jeep for us to use during the next couple of weeks. This was an interesting example of Kenyan business practices. After we confirmed the car booking with one agent, we then found out that the car would be supplied by a second person who was getting the car from a third party. Fortunately, at about 22.00 that night, we finally got confirmation that the car would be delivered to us at 07.00 on Saturday, just in time for us to drive to the Mburu family party in Thika / Kibati.
More news on the party in the next blog !