Tuesday, May 2nd and Wednesday, May 3rd:
Both days, we are woken up by heavy rain beating with the wind onto our hut and soaking anything inside that is close to the straw walls. But the rain is actually relaxing, until you need to leave the hut! The first morning, the rain was a little more on-and-off but it did soak our breakfast. Well, soggy toast and eggs still taste good when they are free! The rain made us lazy on Tuesday morning so we ended up spending most of the morning in the courtyard of the hostel, surrounded by paranoid cats and smoke from the group of Israeli hippy girls with dreads. The girls are interesting… they have a portable stovetop and cooked their eggs in the common sitting area, right under the sign that said “no outside food or drinks”. Sher keeps reminding me that he loves it here and he’s happy to be “busy” again, even though we’ve just been sitting around using the wifi all morning! Haha he’s got a different idea of fun compared to me but at least he’s relaxed again.
We eventually break free of the lounging area and walk to Cafesserie, a trendy cafe in walking distance that Sher found with good reviews online. We walked by a Japanese restaurant with Japanese gardens and decide that we’ll have to return for dinner. Caffeserie is at the lower level of a mall, a modern oasis of greenery among the bustle of traffic and muddy, littered streets of Mombasa. The fresh salad and juice was heaven to me at that moment as well. It is a popular place filled with well-dressed locals, European ex-pats, and two sets of old, white men with young, scantily-clad local women. The local girls seem to be escorts, especially since one couple barely spoke throughout lunch… the young woman spends most of the meal taking selfies. I didn’t see anything like that in Tanzania… nothing that was obvious to us, at least. After lunch, we wander the mall to find a money exchange place and find out how to get to the beach. The directions take us onto a busy road with very little room for walking… and the first time on the trip that I was really worried about being robbed by one of the shady characters walking by. I carry my purse cross-body (I really shouldn’t have brought it out today at all!) and we jumped puddles and dodge cars to eventually find a turnoff that leads to the beach. Finally… but then we realize that we feel even less safe on the beach! There are a lot of caves lining the beach and the part that we end up at is deserted except the occasional local guy sitting in or beside one of the caves. We see a crowd in the distance and proceed to walk as fast as we can by the water, making it to the crowd… relieved to sit down among families.
The beach isn’t the most inviting plus it’s a grey day but it’s fun to just relax and enjoy the crowds. Most of the people at this part of the Mombasa beach are locals- families, school groups, and guys trying to convince people to rent paddleboats or ride camels. One guy in particular decided to chat us up. He eventually confesses that he is a heroin addict and a hustler who is so addicted to drugs that he often forgets about his kids. Even though we are in a busy area, I don’t like where the conversation is going. I offer him my bag of chips and then ask about his kids as a distraction to get him on a happier topic. It seems to work… he calls me “sister” and then starts to tell us about his kids until he is called away and then we quickly take the chance to get up and leave.
Back at the hostel, I have no desire to explore Mombasa any further. The heavy rain is discouraging and I find the city difficult to navigate with no good place to walk on the roads between the puddles and speeding cars. We spend the evening back in the hippie vortex courtyard of the hostel, just people-watching (lots of drama and action here!) and using the wifi since it can be scarce at a lot of the places we’ve been to.
The next morning we have a hard time finding a shower that offers hot water but eventually they direct us to one of the washrooms with steady hot showers and so we get ready and then pack up all our bags. It’s time for lunch so we decide to check out the Japanese restaurant since we missed out yesterday. It ends up being a good decision… it’s a traditional place with Japanese gardens and a giant gong that they hit to announce new customers entering. It’s quite an experience! Back at the hostel, Sher spots the pet tortoise of Tulia… they tell us that he rarely comes out so we are lucky to have seen him. They give us personalized souvenir keychains as a parting gift and an even better gift is the ridiculously low total bill at the end. That feels nice! Our cab driver on the way to the airport is entertaining with his politics talk, upbeat African music, and driving stunts… he drives the wrong way on a one-way just to avoid some traffic in the other lane. We have to pay again for the seashells at the airport entrance security and then the guards at the second security check at the gate laugh at us for trying to bring them on the plane… apparently large seashells can be used as weapons! They still let us bring them in our carry-on bags after a warning and some teasing about owing them coffee. We also used the “we are on our honeymoon” card, it always makes people more conversational which helps out sometimes.
Later in the evening we arrive in Nairobi and we are caught in traffic, as we were warned. It ends up taking 1.5 hours to get to our hotel which is actually only 20 minutes away without traffic. But the wait is well worth it… we are staying at the Fairmont Norfolk as a treat for booking a crappy (but MUCH cheaper) flight path for our trip in a few days to Zimbabwe, and also to celebrate the anniversary of when we first met and went for dinner on May 4th. It’s an easy date to remember if you’re a Star Wars fan (May the 4th be with you) and I’ll never let Sher forget how on that first dinner meeting, he declined to ask if I wanted dessert when the waitress offered. Instead he asked for the bill and got out of there fast! Haha. I was fine with it since I got a free dinner, even if he did choose to run away! He still teases me because apparently I had a hole in my sweater and he felt sorry for me. I’m surprised that we both kept in touch with each other after that…