Mombasa Port Jesus
Aug 4, 2016
|The trip to Mombasa was reasonably uneventful. Except camera battery ran out! On the way I took a pile of photos of roadside shops. Here are 3 of the many.
Our taxi driver (Ken again) had a ferry pass which was fortunate. one of the 4 ferries had broken down and to add to congestion there were loads of buses of school children. Not to mention a few cows grazing near the entrance road to the ferry With the pass, instead of waiting for up to four hours, we were the last in line onto the next ferry.
Our destination; Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese, who started a trading port in 1505. taken over by the Sultan of Oman from 1698 then the British in 1895. I had to look up relevant information up on the web.
We realised how little we knew of African history (or geography.) My knowledge was limited to the colonial era, and all the bits coloured red for empire!In none of that does the Arab trading and settlement influence appear.
We had already been told that Swahili is up to 35% arabic, the rest coastal African languages, mainly Bantu.
After the tour of the Fort we walked through the Old Town. Needs major, major restoration. The same rules apply to these heritage buildings as here. So nothing is done. According to our guide there is lots off accommodation for people coming to city from inland. Usually the guide gave us a nothing that wasn't on plaques on walls. Often just pointed to the plaque!
After all the talk about the dangers in Mombasa, the biggest danger was traffic. No one looked the slightest bit interested in stealing, molesting, or even begging. Only in the market were we approached with sales offers. The markets were a little more congested than those in Asia and Morocco, as vehicles, not just the little Tuk Tuks, were weaving in and out.
Exhausted at the end of the walk; approx 3 hours on our feet had taken its toll, we were picked up by our taxi driver and driven to his choice of restaurant specialising in local food. It had moved! Instructions from a passerby required us to retrace our steps, but we were in a narrow one way street, typical of Old Town. So round and round we went again.
We were met with much enthusiasm, first by a person who sat down with us and then went and got menus. Then by the owner, who said forget the menus, come to the smorgasbord. It turned out later that the first person wasnt part of the establishment. He obviously hadn't had an Australian 'customer' for a while. He talked about Rudd and Gillard ( he liked her) he didn't know Turnbull was pm but did know that he wanted a republic! He left the restaurant just before us, followed us to our vehicle then asked for money...our only touter for the day.
Back to the food! The Indian influence is most obvious (they were brought in as indentured servants and labourers on the railways from 1895 on.b briyani is considered a local dish.
The local dishes i had never previously tried were potato cooked in coconut milk and turmeric. A spicy vegetable dish, beans in a coconut sauce. I didn't try the cassava. My plate was already full. They added a banana to every plate. Then they gave us a traditional sweet little dumplings made from wheat (flour????) In a milky sayce. very bland. I wouldnt have this again.I was full but they then brought out a teeny cup of green tea, along with a brown rectangular piece that I thought was a biscuit. It was a block of brown sugar and honey. I dipped it in the tea but was then told the usual way was tea in one hand, sugar in the other. Sip the tea, suck on the sugar!
have to confess I think we have all put on weight.
We broke a cultural rule at the restaurant: washing hands immediately before and again after meals. I forgot before. Chris didnt but couldn't see anywhere to wash. At the end of the meal I saw two basins. So we at least washed after.
You may think we should have got into the habit by then. But most of the restaurants we had frequented had non Kenyan owners who provided no support for practice....Kenyans probably went to the basin in the toilet area.
The Japanese restaurant did give us flannels before that meal.