07 février 2014

Lamu Island

People visit Lamu Island to sample the nearby beaches and to see the Swahili architecture of the old town. It's one of those city that has so much personality that you can't miss it, even if the security warnings are alarming. A couple of years ago, a few Europeans have been kidnapped and, as a result, many countries recommend to reconsider your needs to travel to the place. To us, it didn't feel dangerous at all, since security has been increased in the region and the island itself is a very welcoming place.

The laid back atmosphere and engaging personality of the locals were the highlights! We added a few words of Swahili to our vocabulary which represent well the nature of the place:
Pole pole: slowly slowly
Badai badai: tomorrow tomorrow
Sawa sawa: ok, all good
Mambo? Boa! Slang for how are you and fine.

Being on an island, the town is reached by public ferry which departs when full. By full, I mean on the verge of sinking! We were surprised to make it to the main jetty! We found out later that we could have used a public speedboat, which is only slightly more expensive but much safer and faster.

A peculiarity of Lamu is the donkeys! They are used to carry goods and people around since the island is car free. Well, almost car free as there are two vehicles used for emergency, which the locals will proudly point out to you.

The settlement itself is composed of two main streets interlaced with a maze of small laneways which are fun to explore. Even the main commercial street is only wide enough for two donkeys to meet in opposite directions. After a few days, you feel like you know almost everybody in town.

To make our séjour even more enjoyable, we had the chance to catch up with our friend Jasmine, who was spending the weekend there. Of course, being with one of the Sathiagnanan sisters meant that we would be on the lookout for good food! We already mentioned that Jazz is quite a cook herself. Amongst our best finds was a very nice coffee shop, delicious fish samosas and excellent seafood.

Together, we chartered a dhow, a traditional timber sail boat, to visit the small village of Matondoni located further on the island. The main industry of the village is weaving carpets and baskets, which an old man proudly showed to us, probably expecting to make a sale. After that visit, we went to Manda Bay for a bit of swimming and snorkelling. Our captain Simba, turned out to be an excellent chef, cooking for us delicious fish with coconut rice, all while sailing!

Overall, Lamu has been our highlight of the Kenyan Coast, thanks to great company and an amazing setting. It felt very good to be absorbed in this relax and exotic place.
Lamu waterfront.
Donkey and a Swahili door. 
Our guide in Matondoni. 
Lunch on a Dhow.
David, Simba (the captain), Gen and Jasmine.

1 commentaire:

leaf (the indolent cook) a dit...

Ooh this place looks really nice, and the boat ride looks fun!