Kenya Diary – March 2018.
The people in Nairobi are subdued, not the optimistic vibrant feel of my last visit in 2015. The country is divided into two camps, and neither side will give way. Although Uhuru Kenyatta has the constitution on his side, Raila Odinga reportedly has the greater support. But nobody wants to spark violence like in 2008. An uneasy situation, and the country is holding its breath.
We woke up earlyish to catch the plane from Wilson airport to Ukunda. A one hour flight to the humidity of the coast. A lovely day, not too hot. It had rained before we arrived, clearing the air. Rooms at the Baobab Hotel are pleasantly air-conditioned, looking onto a peaceful aspect.
We explored the place. Had a “light” buffet lunch at one of the restaurants, then relaxed on sunbeds overlooking the sea. The tide came in and I wallowed, buffeted by the waves for the best part of an hour. A few people wandered on the beach. By the next night I felt quite stiff and a bit sore with the “exercise”.
Supper was an amazing selection of choices in the main restaurant. We both had two helpings. I chose fish at first, and then went for goat and chicken roasts. Tasty sauces, ugali and spinach. Everything tastes so much better in Kenya. We sat next to a British couple with their two children and talked about Kenyan coffee.
The days run into each other. A leisurely cycle of sleeping and eating and soaking up the dappled sun. You don’t feel you’re one of hundreds here – there is plenty of space and facilities for all. Many choices of restaurants and swimming pools (I prefer the sea), and nooks and crannies for private space on sunbeds. The ethos is one of quiet gentility among the multi-national guests, mainly from Europe, with a smattering of locals here for half term. Plenty of smiling happy staff ready to greet you if you wish. Lavish buffets – few queues – meals spaced out. I had a delicious omelette for breakfast, with trimmings to order.
We walked southwards for fifteen minutes along the beach to the “Colobus Shade” for a fresh-caught fish lunch. Ranked 10 on Diani Beach by Trip Adviser, their char-grilled prawns are to die for! Thin fillets of red snapper (my son ate all the kalamari). No ambience. Just a thatched shack fifty yards inland, looking into the rear of a busy beach restaurant. But I bet their meal wasn’t as good as ours. On our way back past some laundry drying on the dusty grass, a fisherman was displaying his catch. Luscious slimy octopus, and a row of tiny fish. A red snapper, which would have been returned to the ocean fifty years ago. No wonder my fillets were so meagre. I asked him if he had parrot fish. “Yes” – he gestured at the row of carcasses on the concrete step. But they were too small for me even to identify the distinctive mouth of this delicacy.
We wandered back to the Baobab complex of three separate hotels, and climbed the steps to flop on sunbeds beside an infinity pool, where I cooled off after the midday walk. A continuous breeze lessened the ferocity of the sun, but we were careful to use lavish dollops of sunscreen.
After dinner, we watched the dancers and singers perform in an elaborate amphitheatre. Energetic, lively themed scenes following Kenya’s history down the years; exotic costumes. Singing old and new African songs.
Our ground floor room is pleasantly air-conditioned, and I sleep well…
…Where has the time gone?
We have an early morning dip in the gentle, cool sea and a stroll along the sand northwards, before another omelette breakfast. Then I experience my first ever full body massage at the spa. Lovely relaxation, although the young beautician finds several sore spots on my legs and shoulders. I feel quite wobbly afterwards but manage to do justice to the buffet lunch.
I learn from a friend later that I should have had a glass of water after my massage to get rid of the toxins.
Next stop, the lovely home of my friends, only a couple of houses down the beach…