i can't claim to be a prolific traveller but i like alternative holidays, lying on a sunbed is boring. i want to be seeing amazing things, experience the culture, meet interesting people, be a bit outside my normal comfort zone, do things i've never done before, and if there's a story to tell i want to remember it, so the notes and observations i make on each trip can now be read here by anyone who has the patience.


Ramblings from the travel journal.  Searching for big cats on safari, getting lost in Mombasa, biking forest trails and dancing with the locals at Bob's Bar.  click to read what else we found in Kenya....

Ramblings from the travel journal
KENYA December 2008

Day 1 – Monday
Arrived at Mombasa airport. Stepped off the plane to briefly experience some hot hot sun before entering the airport to pay the immigration tax, this took ages as you could only pay in US dollars and nobody had any so it meant listening to people huff and puff but no problem I thought. Bus drove through the outskirts of Mombasa to the Bamburi Beach Hotel where we are staying, the people here are very poor I think, they live in basic shacks and don’t seem to have many possessions or luxuries, I feel sad and also very lucky, as well as having a bit of an uncomfortable conscience driving through to our nice hotel. One other thing I feel is very white, the heat here seems seering and humid especially as we were slipping on ice yesterday in Crewe.

Got to hotel, sorted ourselves out and decided to go for a quiet walk along the beach. Our “quiet” walk became overwhelmed when we were surrounded by local lads the moment we stepped on the sand, they were waiting for the new arrivals and bombarded us with offers of best price safari tours and boat trips. We stopped to talk out of first day politeness and were then accompanied on our walk all the way down the beach and back by two locals, John Barnes and his rasta friend for a good 30-40 minutes. We have no intention of buying anything having only just arrived and so far having very limited local knowledge but they chattered on all the same trying to sell wood carvings and all sorts. It became standard wherever we went but I’m sure we’ll get used to it. 

Now if the locals were persistent then they seemed timid in comparison to the old couple we got talking to at night! I like talking and meeting new people but this pair (now nicknamed Dum and Dee) were prolific talkers, there seemed no way out, we were treated to tales of all the places they had ever been to, they kept telling us “ooohh you’ve got to go there” and “ooohh you’ve got to do this” and “ooohh you should have done that”, we are doomed to be their friends for the rest of the holiday……eventually after an infinity they went to their room. 

Day 2 – Tuesday - Cheers
An easy going day today, we have lots planned for the rest of the week but today is chill day, a morning lying in the sun. Go for swim in sea and save Bec from life or death seaweed situation, mess around in pool trying to drown each other. Later in afternoon walked down to a bar called cheers, it was a bit more lively than the hotel bars and good for some people watching. We realised that the numourous young girls hanging around were mostly waiting to befriend European men with pockets full of money a bit like we saw in Thailand. Walked back to hotel before it got dark as Bec thinks we might get murdered walkin down the unlit road. I don’t think we will get murdered, maybe mugged but probably not murdered! The local people seem mostly to be genuinely friendly, partly because they want your money but they are still friendly when you don’t give them any. Had some African hot buffet for tea, some kind of vegetable called matoke which I really liked and some arrow root which I would compare to eating a block of chalk although the roasted red snapper was delicious. Had a few Tusker beers at the pool bar “disco” and off to bed ready for Mombasa in the morning.

Day 3 - Mombasa
Fort Jesus, tusks and reggae bus
Booked our safari trip first thing in morning, we go next Wednesday and stay overnight at a lodge. For today its off to Mombasa, some people pay silly money to go on an organised tour but we would rather go explore ourselves. Weren’t quite sure how the buses worked yet so got a taxi down there and the driver kept offering to wait for us all day insisting he would bring us back even though we said we would be several hours. We said no as didn’t know how long we would be and also wanted to get one of the reggae buses back that the locals use. Got dropped off at Fort Jesus and immediately pestered by “tour guides”, went for a walk into the old town thinking we would escape the guides whilst having a look around but one of them followed us attempting to share his knowledge, we kept politely telling him to leave us alone but he claimed money wasn’t important to him and he was our security guard, I don’t think I could rely on this scrawny little fella in a fight but whatever. It took at least half an hour to shake him off walking through the old town. It was interesting with all the really old buildings but we turned back when Becci spotted chickens down a side street, I only saw goats but Bec says chickens so obviously that was a no go what with her chicken phobia. Went to look around Fort Jesus which is a part ruined old Portuguese fort from around the 1600s, it turned out to be more interesting that I had anticipated. Walked into centre of Mombasa next with only a general idea of which way to go walked through little streets were there were lots of beggars and homeless and also people herding goats along the pavement. We stuck out like a sore thumb being the only white tourists around and clutching a copy of the rough guide to Kenya with the map page open not surprisingly children in rags were following us with palms out. Felt sorry for them but also didn’t want to attract attention by stopping or getting money out in street.

As we got into centre of Mombasa its very busy and noisy, traffic weaving in and out and streets bustling with people. As well as the usual bustle to and fro you would expect it seems quite acceptable to sleep in a pile of tyres inbetween the lanes of the road or even to cruise around with a gun poking out of the passenger side window. We were heading for the tusks (huge crossed tusks that arch over both sides of the road), generally exploring the streets and looking around on the way whilst trying not to look too touristy by only discreetly looking at our map if we really had to. We got hassled a little bit with people approaching us saying they knew us or offering to show us around and guide us to the tourist information, we weren’t all that bothered until we realised we were being followed by a small gang, one of them had been trying to tell me he knew me “Jambo, it me Joseph from the Bamburi beach hotel”, I said “no you’re not, I’m not interested” and tried to ignore him but he was still walking alongside us and his friends were too, some infront some behind, not sure exactly how many probably only three of them. This fella was insisting he knew us and said he was taking us to the tourist information centre, not this again I thought, I said to Bec how stupid do we look? We stopped for a minute and they walked on past but dawdled trying to look inconspicuous pretending to cross the road, we decided to carry on and when we reached the tusks one of them signalled to someone in a little park to the side of the road and we were suddenly surrounded by lads converging on us offering us necklaces, cds, or to be our guide and all sorts. We made a sharp exit and crossed the road quick deciding getting our camera out for the tusks would definitely be a bad idea.

I decided wearing our illuminous all inclusive hotel wristbands was a dead giveaway if it wasn’t already bad enough being the only white people around so we pulled them off whilst having a beer in bar. Amazing what a curry and a few beers can do! Left the bar feeling good and the rest of the day proved trouble free. Went to check out some local markets down some narrow side streets, the pavements are lined with little stalls mostly selling fruit, hand held carts trundle up and down the road and women wander by effortlessly balancing huge baskets on their head. We completely by random bump into Victor our holiday rep who is on his afternoon off which was handy to get some directions. We eventually get one of the ferry buses back to the hotel, it’s a little van/mini bus, as they whiz along they keep stopping shouting “ferry, ferry, ferry” trying to cram as many people in as possible. We get into what we think is the right one but aren’t quite sure its going in the right direction at first, it nearly crashes several times and we get treated to some reggae tunes, yeah man. After six hours or so down in Mombasa it feels really really quiet walking back into the hotel after all the mad noise. A mad but great experience, would like to go again before we go home.

Day 4 – Thursday - Ram and coke
Chillax day today. Went for a walk along beach whilst talking to John Barnes, he looks different than on the telly and also thought he was Jamaican not Kenyan but he says its him. He is a nice enough bloke, after talking for a bit he works his way round to a sales pitch, we didn’t buy but if I do want anything I’ll go see John Barnes. Back at hotel played water polo and water volleyball in the pool, Kenyans vs Europeans, we won waterpolo they won volleyball. After a few rum and cokes today I felt rather strange and later realised it was probably due to the glass being half rum half coke. Got talking to a girl who is scared of snails, it’s a proper phobia, must be a nightmare back home but shes safe over here, don’t think they like sunbathing. Had a misunderstanding asking for my rum and coke, the barman couldn’t understand me coz he pronounces it ram and when I say rum he points me to my room and says “you go there to sleep”.

Tonight I danced with indigenous tribal people! Well... kind of, there were some tribal dancers for entertainment at the hotel and they pulled me up to dance to the bongo rythms, I think I enhanced the performance if anything, I seemed to have the spirit of the earth emanating from within, wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to entice me back to their village to become chief or king or shaman or sumthin.

Day 5 – Forest Trail and Bob's Bar
(Kenyan independence day)
Went out to a forest trail today. Went for walk and Bec broke her sandals, I tried to repair them with some vines which seemed to work at first and just as I was proclaiming myself as a survival expert it appeared that it was rather difficult for Bec to walk properly so I ran back to the hotel (luckily this forest is literally across the road from the hotel) and purchased a rather nice new pair of sandals from the hotel shop. There were some antelope type animals wandering freely in the forest, when we first started walking two went stampeding past us which was a bit worrying as they were huge beasts. As we went further there were lots of big groups of them, they seemed very wary of us and not particularly interested in spearing us with their big sharp horns which was a relief as we would have been impaled as human kebabs on the things, they were massive. There were all sorts of snakes and lizards sneaking around but they scamper off when you get close. Hires some bikes and set off on this 10km long trail through the forest, we were speeding along trying to fathom out the dodgy gears when Bec spotted a monkey, we stopped to look and I thought good camera opportunity. When we looked around we realised we were surrounded by loads of them on both sides of the path, these light grey coloured monkeys with black markings all of them staring at us. Bec was nervous being as we are in the middle of the woods and if I’m honest I was a bit unsure when they started gradually moving closer, I couldn’t resist a quick couple of photos before shooting off and I’m sure they were posing, Bec was already way off down the trail saying they might have yellow fever but I’ve had my jab so hakuna matata. Apparently a large part of the forest used to be a big quarry but around 50 years ago it was filled in and regenerated with loads of trees planted and then left for nature to take over again. Kinda like the idea of that.

Got back to hotel some time in afternoon and played waterpolo in pool whilst Bec sunbathed. At night there were acrobats for entertainment at hotel, they had fire limbo, a contortionist and some tightrope walking on a very dodgy looking rope tied between a tree and a post. They got some weird bike out and picked me out to try and ride it, why do I always get pulled up? It had a small wheel at back and large one at front and both wheels turned with the pedals attached to the back wheel. I couldn’t move anywhere and kept falling back so tried to lean forward to move my centre of gravity and just fell forward, gave up after several attempts of not even moving half a metre with some bloke on the microphone saying “oh dear, he can not even ride a bike!” Of course after I had failed one of these acrobat fellas got on whizzing around doing loads of tricks. Later on we got the bus down the road looking for Bobs bar, a place the rep had told us about, it was quality, a big open space in the middle with different bars around the sides and a big sound system. We had several drinks, really liking the Tusker, and danced and talked to the locals, I couldn’t understand what they were saying half the time partly because of the language barrier partly coz of how loud the music is. If this sort of place existed back home it wouldn’t really work and would probably end up with people fighting in pools of sick in the middle but over here the party atmosphere is amazing, its not all about getting pissed its about having a good time, dancing and socialising. At home I wouldn’t speak to this many random people on a night out but here people come over to talk to us, dancing with us and generally being fun and friendly. A lot of the hotel people don’t leave the hotel unless on some kind of organised tour, I don’t understand why they don’t want to experience the local life having come all this way to a culturally different country! Why hide at the hotel?

Day 6 – Saturday - Bob's bar again
Bit of a hangover today, didn’t get back until about 2.30am last night and think it show from my handwriting on previous page (see original) that I’d had a few. The Kenyans like socks coz they cant buy them over here so its almost a currency in its own right, I took some down to the beach for John Barnes and the rasta and used them to bargain for some carved keyrings and a bracelet. I think I might start carrying things around on my head like Kenyans do, in Mombasa and along the roads they carry huge baskets of fruit and big bundles of sticks, I think with a bit of practice I could get it to catch on at home.

At night went out to Bob’s bar again and took Mike and Julie with us, it was busy again and think we were the only tourists there. Had a good time although because Julie was nervous about going we went inside one of bars as she felt safer than outside, wasn’t gonna complain as still had a good time but just felt bad as we had persuaded them to go and don’t think Julie liked it. Mike was enjoying himself though all the same and likes his beer- a lot! So probably drank a bit more than usual that night, I could see Bec was itching to go outside to enjoy the old skool r’n’b, she really enjoyed last night that’s why we wanted to come again but its good to come out with other people too. I find it funny that some of the Kenyans idea of flirting is for the girl to bend over a table or chair or whatever is to hand and the lad to grind vigourously up against her – very subtle. Get back to hotel and had another beer with Mike after the girls had gone to bed, we had to wake the barman up as he was asleep on his mattress on the floor, didn’t feel bad though because beer was more important at that moment in time. Got talking in our drunken state to one of the cleaners called Pete, he is a skinny fella with sticky out teeth. I practised some Swahili on him – I think he was impressed. We asked him how much the hotel pay him, he said about 300ksh per day (just under £3). He is temporary and trying his hardest to become permanent, we said we would put in a good word for him and he said not to because he would get in trouble for telling guests about his hours or pay. A bloody nice bloke.

Day 7 – Sea Safari
Bad, bad head today, too many bottles of Tusker and not enough sleep. Didn’t get to bed until 3.30 but Bec made me get up for breakfast at 9. The tide goes out in the morning so we went for a walk out to the sea. Two lads followed us chatting and picking up animals from the rock pools to show us, at first we tried to avoid them but they were good lads and seemed to know where to find all these strange creatures so we went with it. If we had been by ourselves we wouldn’t have spotted any of this but they were finding sea cucumbers, sea spiders, urchins, nemo fish, starfish and allsorts of other stuff in the pools that we would just have walked past oblivious. They told us we were on sea safari and they were the aquarium masters, Amos and Mustapha were their names, had a good laugh taking photos and messing around with all the creatures but also they were really caring and careful to put them all back in the pools where they found them. Don’t really understand what the sea cucumbers do with themselves all day, they look like a cross between a cucumber and a big turd and don’t really move much. They must get bored lying around all day, I think they should grow some legs or fins or something and do more with themselves.

A night after the entertainment there was crab racing which was a bit naff and not just because my crabs were pathetic and got left on the start line. Got talking to two fellas who went to Nairobi on the train, they went overnight taking 12 hours, spent the day there and then another 12 hours back to Mombasa. Sounds like they spent a lot of their time there drinking and doesn’t surprise me as they are really pissed tonight and keep asking me to go deep sea fishing with them next week. One couple we got to know, John and Julie (there are 2 diff Julies) go home tomorrow so I gave them my email etc. Most of the people we’ve got to know go home tomorrow or day after and we have another week so we’ll see what new people turn up. We’ve got talking to lots of different people over the last week, a lot more than usual when we go away, I think the friendliness of the Kenyans rubs off onto everyone. After a few beers played pool with Mike and Julie and talked to Peter the cleaner again, he is great, he even asked permission to go back to work. Really enjoying the holiday so far its been brilliant, really feel at home.

Day 8 – Haller Park and fellow journal writer
Went to an eco wildlife/nature park today. There were hippos, buffalo, giraffe, crocs, antelope and various birds, lizards and tortoise wandering about. We had a bit of a grumpy guide to take us round, if you wanted to know something you had to probe him otherwise a one word answer was all you got. At one point we walked past a maribu stork, a big ugly scraggy looking thing which Becci was obviously not too keen on, I tried to say look its not going to be dangerous if its allowed to wander around in here and whilst holding on to Bec as we walked past the nasty looking thing ran straight infront of us which sent Bec running up the path screeching. Got the ferry bus there and back, its definitely the way to travel – 20 bob each on the way down 30 bob each coming back (spare change). You often get someone making conversation but its never awkward even though you might be crammed in like sardines. Bec was chuffed with herself after banging on the roof when we wanted to get out like the locals do.

Lots of new arrivals today, got talking to a couple, don’t know their names yet but it turns out he writes a journal too- I’m wondering if I’ve got a mention in his yet. He says he likes to describe the people around the hotel in his journal, for instance the old very tanned wrinkly women he described as a dried out tea bag which is pretty acurate and and a "nice" image to remember her by. Think I may introduce more people watching descriptions into my writings. Mike and Julies last night, they leave at 6am in the morn. Had a few last beers with them and played some pool. They are both really nice people and will keep in touch, Mike is a big lad about 18 stone and talks in what Bec describes as a farmer's accent, he gave his sandals to peter the cleaner because he thought Peter's were old and broken (they werent, Mike thought they were because he was drunk). He is very outgoing and confident in contrast to Julie who was quite shy and nervous about going out of the hotel (and scared of snails). I told Pete I will mention him on the satisfaction questionaire form thing I've got in the room, he was really pleased as he said thats the sort of thing that will help him get permanent work.

Day 9 - Tuesday - Safari Eve.
A couple of nights ago I had some really strange vivid dreams which i blamed on the malaria tablets because it can be one of the side effects. I was talking to a fella last night and it unfolded that he had had the same dream as me, and not just similar but exactly the same! He called his wife over to confirm his story of his dream just to show he wasnt making it up. We both dreamt that gunmen ran up from the beach to the hotel pool and rounded everyone up at gunpoint, they herded everyone into the hotel and locked us in rooms upstairs, they were hitting and hurting people. In my dream I was around the pool when it happened and in his he was on a balcony looking down to the pool but the happenings were exactly the same right down to some small details such as the gunmen bringing us bottles of water up to the rooms we were locked in and that they were carrying AK-47's. My brain cant really compute the weirdness of this but hopefully nobody else has had the same dream aswell or I will instantly shit myself. Theres a few characters about the hotel who aquire made up names from bec and me if we dont know their real names (which obviously we dont tell them), theres 'Nairobi men' - two blokes who go travelling together and leave their wives and children at home, I think they are in their 50's and they spend most of their time getting pissed. Nice enough blokes and they have some interesting stories to tell which are best listened to by day rather than later at night when they are both absolutely bladdered and incoherent such as last night when one of them was slumped in a chair by the bar nonsensically mumbling to himself. Then there's this German called 'ugly stick' - a tall lad with long blonde hair, all arrogant like and with a screwed up neanderthal brow and a drooping mouth. He always has some Kenyan girls around him, not quite sure what the arrangement is or if the girls are working if you know what I mean, there seem to be a few payed girlfriends around the hotel. Oblivious to the fact that he acts like a complete nob all the time he seems to think he is great. Theres a bloke we named 'NO' after the only word he has ever spoken to me. He is a grumpy cantankerous old sod who according to what others have said too has lost the concept of queuing and will barge infront of whoever he wishes. On our first day I went to put some towels on sunbeds and he just appeared next to me and grunted "NO!", what a grumpy old bastard, I assume he felt he had some territorial rights over this particular sunbed. His wife is grumpy too, they both have grumpy creases on their faces like frown lines or wrinkes from smile lines but these are definately not smile lines these are grumpy lines for sure. I feel I should also state that there are lots of nice people we talk to and we dont just moan about people we dont like all day but its more fun to write about the odd freaky people.

Day 10 - SAFARI - Tsavo East.
Up at 5am, left at 6am to set out on 120km journey. Once at Tsavo we go through a guarded check point to enter the national park area, while our driver sorts things out with the guards some bloke tries to flog us some safari hats which he tries to convince us are essential if we are to avoid severe sunburn, complete bollocks of course especially at that ridiculous price. Once through the checkpoint and on the trail the first thing that strikes me is how red the earth looks and theres a lot more greenery than i imagined. The first animal we spotted was a gazelle, we stop straining to see this little gazelle in the distance which seemed silly later when there was an abundance of them close up. Our driver's name was Salim, he's a nice bloke, a bit quiet but maybe because he is constantly scanning around looking for things and occasionally spotting things to show us that seemed almost invisible before. For instance he slowed down to stop and look at a monitor lizard that was sat motionless next to a termite mound, it was the same colour as the earth and even when we stopped we couldnt see it at first but he had clocked it whilst driving at 20-30km\h. We saw plenty of animals along the way, elephants, giraffes, baboons, antelope, colourful birds and lots more but no cats of any sort yet. Of all the animals I think the ostiches fascinated me the most, they are absolutely massive and look like some prehistoric bird, even at a distance they look huge. The jeep has a lift up roof so you can stand and get a better vantage point. With us we had a family, the dad was an exact clone of Dale Winton but his name was Mark,the mums name i forget and then two young children who the whole experience was wasted on, they were too young to appreciate it.

Got to the lodge for dinner, I was expecting pretty basic digs but it is actually quite plush. The food is good and is included in the deal then you pay for drinks which are a bit of a rip off but then i guess they have a strong monopoly in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by large hungry animals that may fancy a humanoid snack as a bit of a delicassy given the chance. Bit of chill out time lazing by the pool at the lodge then off out again for an afternoon game drive. not surprisingly only Dale Winton and his bratty little boy Jake turned up to join us while the mum and little girl stayed behind but no problem because it gave us plenty of room. Didnt manage to track many animals this time but the ones we did were amazing to see. A herd of elephants were crossing the trail so we stopped to watch and they wandeed really close to us to drink from a pool of water just near the side of the trail. Although there was a large group including some baby ones and then some of the adults which really are massive they are surprisingly quiet and calm, hardly a sound except the occasional click of my camera. It was actually quite surreal watching these huge animals walk by in eery silence. When we get back to the lodge Salim is apologising that we didnt see any lions or big cats but we were happy enough and having a good time. After tea we had a drink and watched over the waterhole near the lodge, a couple of elephants came by to drink, they seemed kinda ghostly watching them in the dark, the lodge is almost silent at night and the lighting and any noise is kept to a minimum.

Up at 6am for early morning game drive. It seems the objective of the day is to track lions or cats of any sort. There seems to be plenty of activity at early morning, its teeming with life everywhere maybe because its not too hot yet and is relatively cool and cloudy, we decide to do one long game drive and travel further out into the wild rather than two short drives with a break inbetween. We were out for several hours with one of the highlights for me seeing a large group of 50 or so baboons trekking through the long grass close by. We come accross all kinds of animals- giraffes, herds of zebra, oryx antelope, gazelles, eagles, buzzards, ostrich, buffalo, lizzards, warthogs and jackals, i like watching the little warthogs scampering around but unfortunately we spot none of the elusive cats apart from some lions in the far distance that we were trying desperately to see straining through binoculars. Salim gets word on the radio that another driver has seen lions, he tells me to sit down as he is going to put his foot down and get there quick, he is doing 80-100km/ph down the track (the speed limit is strictly 40). We get a buzz of excitement speeding along so fast down a bumpy trail to try and get there before the lions move on. We eventually reach the spot to find two other jeeps there, we scour the landscape and can only make out some oryx and some giraffe gazelles in the distance but the grass is long here so maybe there are lions lying in the shade in the grass. We wait for a while and then drive on to some swamp land hoping to find leopards or cheetahs in the trees, no such luck but another call on the radio sends us on another chase. We get to the spot of the supposed sighting and nothing to be seen but Salim spots some fresh tyre tracks going off road and later finds out someone had driven off track (which is against the law) to follow the lions which spoilt our chances of seeing them, Salim is angry and frustrated punching the steering wheel.

We return back to the lodge for dinner after an entertaining drive, no big cat sightings but hakuna matata, it was a great experience in a beautiful landscape.

We got back to the hotel in the afternoon for some sunbathing and relaxing. Later that night got talking to Tony (fellow journal writer) and his wife Ronnie and met a new couple Fiona and Wayne. Had a few drinks and watched the entertainment and then they had bingo by the pool bar, bloody bingo i thought, i hate bingo it just doesnt qualify as entertainment but Bec wants to play and persuades me to buy her a ticket with which she won a large beautifully carved wooden giraffe! brilliant game bingo, love it.

DAY 12 - Friday - Pool Jumping Day
Spent the day knocking about the beach and hotel. Since we got here have been sizing up whether i could jump accross part of the pool where it narrows and snakes round to the other side of the pool bar, its about 8ft accross i reckon(probably less) but looks invitingly jumpable to me. Its turns out Tony has had exactly the same thoughts and we decide that an attempt to clear it will take place at 5pm.   
 As the time neared we started to bottle it a bit as the girls were planting seeds of doubt over our ability to make the jump suggesting such disabling injuries as broken legs, cracked skulls and twisted ankles. As I stood contemplating the leap I suddenly decided it was definately a good idea and got my sandals ready in order to reduce the risk of foot injuries. As I was putting them on Tony appeared from nowhere flying over the pool landing on the other side with both feet.....and then fell back into the pool landing on some unimpressed fat German woman. A rush of blood to the head I thought and undeterred I decided good preparation was the key, set myself and cleared the leap! Yes! My holiday long ambition was achieved. I wanted a re-jump but Bec insisted not as Tony had hurt his neck, I reckon he could have cleared it with another attempt but we called it a day. Had a couple of races with Bec running up and down the beach, I wont say who won as Bec will read it and doesnt like me bragging. 

Later at night there was a bit of an altercation with some Polish people. At 11.30pm the all inclusive drinks finish at the hotel bar and they turn the music off, fine fair enough, if you want another drink you pay for it or if you wanna dance and listen to music there are a couple of bars you can get to down the road. This loud Polish girl starts shouting for more music but the staff ignore her and continue packing up, she then proceeds to shout how shit the hotel is and how poor the service is "its poor, its poor, theese hotel is sheet". Ronnie takes objection and interjects saying excuse me but this hotel is very good, the staff are friendly and they all work very hard (most true). A bit of a ding dong then develops with a few throw away comments going off at tangents and even world war 2 gets a mention! The womans boyfriend was some big meathead and he decides to join in for some reason taking a pop at me, he says I am "some sort of smart guy, just poor very poor", I respond by saying "for what you have just said to me... I forgive you", this riled him, he was going mad, I thought he was gonna punch me but I told him I forgave him again as calm as you like and wished him a good night. When they finally stormed off everyone around the bar clapped and jeered- it was a wonderful moment, this angered them even more which in turn resulted in more cheers.

DAY 13 - Saturday - MTWAPA
Went to Mtwapa in the morning, a local village a few km to the north, got a tut tut taxi down there, a tiny green open air bike car thing. Got to Mtwapa and just wandered up and down not really knowing where to go and feeling a bit out of place, the streets are really dusty and the shops and houses are basically just shacks. Its really busy with men pulling carts and people carrying bottles and baskets on there heads, others are just sitting around in the street. There are loads of goats loping around with no aparent owners and a few loose chickens wandering about much to Becs dismay. We get followed a couple of times with lads chatting to us, one of whom offered a guided tour of local houses to see how they live, I declined as I thought this could potentially be out of our comfort zone and he would have just been inventing a way to get a bit of cash out of us. Mostly we passed by largely unoticed and escaped our friendly followers by diving into a bar, the bar is pretty much a hut with tables outside although it did have a pool table, to get a drink the bar is kind of like a secure kiosk with metal bars and a gap to pass money and drinks through. Played some pool quite badly and then sat watching people pass by outside whilst having a few bottles of Tusker until I realised it was still morning and I was starting to feel a bit tipsy and thought I'd better slow down a bit on the drinking. Just had one more beer :) before having a few sensible glasses of water.

Most of the friends we've made at the hotel have gone home now or gone on safari but theres still a few people we talk to and you can always rely on the hotel staff to keep you entertained particularly Dalmas from the animation team. The animators are purely enertainment staff and organise all the games n stuff. Dalmas is 27 but looks about 19, he is skinny and gangly with a shaved head, very dark skin which is so dark you usually just see a bright white set of smiling teeth. In the morning you will hear him shouting "In da poool, in da poool" trying to prise people off their sunbeds to play water volleyball or water polo. He is a happy slightly eccentric character who has a talent for getting a smile out of pretty much anybody with the exception of a few of the miserable people who only manage to muster a frown (usually Germans). We bought a "Jambo Jambo" CD of Kenyan music from him which he smuggling over to us in secret as it seems to be a bit of a dodgy sideline. It is his day off on Sunday so we gave him a tip which I think he was lingering around in the hope of and then he handed us a scrap of paper with his contact details asking us to let him know we got home safely. Found Peter the cleaner later to give him a tip, I didnt have much on me and just popped a 100 note in his top pocket, he was really really grateful and explained that to us it is not much but to him its enough to make a difference and told us about his wife and children. Later at night we went down to Bob's for a couple of hours for a few late drinks, its real busy again like last week and a good party atmosphere. Over here its mainly the lads who are up dancing, they will all cheer when a popular song comes on (nearly every song) and watching them dance makes me realise I have absolutely no rhythm in my bones whatsoever in comparison and of the hundreds of people there I would say I was probably the worst dancer there but by no coincidence the only white man too.

DAY 14 - LAST DAY :(
Kwaheri Kenya
Its nearly time to go, I feel sad to be leaving but also happy at having had an amazing experience. To summarise this place in 5 words; welcoming, beautiful, friendly, fascinating, lively. There is so much to see and do here and the people are so friendly, when out and about we constantly hear "Jambo!" or "Karibu" or "Habari" as people pass by. For the past two weeks Bec has been pestering about a boat trip to go snorkelling but today being the last day we have no money left so a quick trip down the road to the bank soon sorts that out and Bec finally gets her long awaited boat trip. We go out on the boat to the reef with Captain Eddie and Joseph from the dive shop, we have to stay within the reef which is a long way out but beyond that the deep sea is a lot rougher and home to sharks and other hungry creatures. We see plenty of brightly coloured fish and coral whilst diving and snorkelling and at times its teeming with fish all around us. In some parts it is a bit shallower and we are told we can stand on the coral which I was a bit uncomfortable with as I always thought it was not good to interfere with it so I tried to avoid touching it so as not to damage anything. We walked along the sandbanks on the edge of the reef before going back, just a narrow strip of sand in the middle of the sea, it was a good view looking back accross the water to the coast. The rest of the day has just seemed to drift away and now I'm thinking of home.....

Flight is delayed by 3-4 hours which we knew in advance but it means an extra bit of sleep as pick up from the hotel is 9.15am instead of 6.30am so its fine with me. Will have good memories of this place, a last look around through the windows on the bus- the views are shabby market stalls, dusty streets, shacks and huts, a lively bustle but at a leisurely pace. We were told on our first day 'In Kenya we dont keep time we make time' and thats about right, everywhere is busy but not in a rush. Regardless of the lack of development, the basic living conditions and the hunger for money the place is lovable and grows on you more every day although maybe that is partly because the knowledge that home comforts will be returned in 2 weeks is always there. But that said although the people here dont have much in terms of possesions and luxuries they are content in working hard for a living and appear to be happy with what they have. At the airport the security is tight, we go through numerous checks being scanned, fully frisked, suitcases searched, hand lugage searched, and various questions to be answered. More importantly I managed to haggle a bit in one of the shops to spend the last of our money on a Tusker t-shirt.

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