Lamu prides itself as the oldest town in Kenya and by extension East Africa. It is a town with beautiful sites and experiences to behold. Actually, one post isn’t enough to put into perspective the life in Lamu.On an official assignment at the Coast late last year, I made it my business to visit this much talked about Island. Coincidentally, Kebaya, a former college mate, was also on an official visit at the Coast, had the idea of going to visit the historic city.So we made arrangements on how we will have our trip done after wider consultation with the locals.Since we were in Mpeketoni,a small town in Lamu Disitrict,for adventure sake,we decided to use a motor bike upto to the jetty,which was about 30mins away.We had to finish part of the journey by foot after the motorbike developed a puncher.
Ar the Jette,we had to board a motor boat at a cost of kshs 1500,to reach the island.We were the only africans, with the rest of the passengers being Arabs*read Kenyans of Arabic decent*. The boat ride must have been the most captivating and at the same time, horrendous experience I’ve ever had. Midway the trip I couldn’t see any land, with the entire horizon submerged by the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. My mind wondered of limitless possibilities.
Then this Arab man seated next to me asked inquisitively about what had brought me to Lamu.I was quick at answering him, with the hope that a conversation could calm my down my now tension filled nerves. “Just on some fact finding mission” I told him. I was mentally prepared for the next question which, logically, according to me, should’ve been something like; what kind of research, but interestingly enough he asked me ‘’…una kalamu wewe’’ (Do you have a pen).Though a little bit puzzled by this line of questioning, I happily answered in the affirmative drawing out my biro pen. He looked away in a show of disappointment, while the rest of the passengers were sheepishly smiling. While I was still trying to come to terms to this bizarre conversation, I received a text from my pal who was seated behind me,informing me that that was a suggestive pass from a homo.I felt my skin crawl and I couldn’t wait for the boat to reach the island. When it docked, I jumped out with the zeal of a just released prisoner.
Once on the island, i decided to cast away my fears and savor the historic beauty and architecture of this town. The town was surprisingly quiet with not so much of activity going on at that time of the day. After doing some few rounds, we entered a small eating place, I wouldn’t call it a restaurant, well, they don’t have such there…and we ordered some of those unique coastal foods. After finishing our meal, we called over the waiter asking for our bill. The waiter gladly told us that the bill had been settled. There was a mixture of surprise and happiness on our faces. When we asked by who, he pointed to the direction of a middle aged Arabic man, I felt like flying out of that hotel and the Island alike, we left in a huff.
Despite this,we decided to stay on against our better judgment, after all it’s not like someone held a barrel against us, plus the people of Lamu were friendlier than one could ever imagine. We went to the beach for some swimming and sunbasking and realized that Lamu has one of the most beautiful beach line you can ever find along the Kenyan Coastline; calm, with clean sand and an expansive view.Actually i could see Somalia.
At around 6pm the town comes to life, vendors open their shops, number of tourists begin to swell, and exquisite coastal music tunes fill the atmosphere. Sadly we had to leave that evening so as to prepare for departure to Mombasa the following day.
It was hard to find a boat leaving Lamu to the Jette, mainly because most boats, were bringing tourists to the Island at this time when the nightlife is abuzz. Finally, at the cost of an arm and leg we found one boat driver that was willing to go to the jetty in that evening darkness.During the journey back I reflected the two gay passes I experienced, and mentally laughed when I remembered being told that in Lamu boys are usually kept indoors, the way girls are kept indoors and protected in other places so as to stay safe and not learn bad habits (gayism).
That’s all……. *with a Meryl Steep Accent*