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    • Day 154


      March 5 in Kenya ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

      I had an unexpectedly long journey from Lamu to Malindi. It already looked quite far on the map but the circumstances made the trip even longer - though also a bit more adventurous. 🤭
      At first, I took a speedboat from Lamu island to the mainland where the bus to Malindi departed. Apparently, I took the „wrong“ bus that stopped everywhere (and for anyone along the road). 🙈 It should have made me suspicious that I was the only „muzungu“ (white man - that’s what we foreigners are called here) on the bus. 🚎
      On the positive side, I got to see a lot of the landscape and gained a few insights into the real local life. That included experiencing being seated in the densely packed and unclimatised bus 😓 and going through some rigorous security checkpoints (with passport and baggage control). The bus ride from Lamu to Malindi was considered dangerous for tourists in the past - due to bad roads and criminal activity. 😱Therefore, there were many security checkpoints along the way. The road has been mostly repaired as well - apart from a few locations. Today it is okay to take the bus in the north coast of Kenya. The warnings ⚠️ about that part from the official german government websites seem to be outdated.
      So, all in all it took me 6 hours to get to Malindi instead of the usual 3 hours (with the express shuttle for tourists). But the odyssey was not quite over yet. 😵‍💫 I still had to take 3 tuktuks (!) to arrive at the apartment. First I was sent to the wrong GPS coordinates by the owner of the apartment. 😤 I landed in the middle of a muslim community. They have been really helpful and brought me to another tuktuk driver. The second tuktuk driver drove me to a similarly sounding resort but not the place I was supposed to go to 🤦 Only the third tuktuk driver managed to drop me off at the exact location for the apartment. 🥳 I recognised during these moments that the locals were seemingly incapable of translating a position in Google Maps to locations in the real world - which got me thinking. 🤔 It is so normal for us to use technology like that but in a small town like Malindi as well as other places on Kenya’s east coast there just does not seem to be the need for it.
      Anyways, Malindi has a lot of resorts and restaurants completely geared towards Italian 🇮🇹 tourists; to an extent where Italian is the main language on the menus (with English translations) - you won’t find anything in Swahili on it. Many of these businesses are even owned by Italians. I knew that when I came to Malindi - I have been “warned” - and it didn’t bother me. It was like a weekend trip to Italy. 😝
      When I finally arrived in the apartment, there was not much left of the day. So I only went to the Italian restaurant „Baby Marrow“ for dinner - a recommendation from Jack (from Australia) that I had briefly met in Nairobi and Lamu. It was an excellent recommendation. 😋 The prices were a bit higher for Kenyan standards but the food as well as ambience was just perfect.

      On the next day, I had to make my way to Watamu. I could have taken a tuktuk 🛺 to the central bus station, a matatu 🚐 to Gede and from there another matatu 🚌 to Watamu and finally another tuktuk 🛺 to the vaguely described address of my next accommodation BUT after my experiences from the day before, I felt like I deserved a little luxury and would just take a taxi. 🚕
      First I tried to get the contact of a driver through the owner of the apartment where I was staying but the person that showed up wanted a ridiculous amount of money (6000 KES) for the 40 minute drive 🤣 … negotiations were tough and did not lead anywhere. 😒
      Good thing that I had already checked the availability and prices in the Uber app. So I knew that somebody would drive me for a third or even a quarter of the proposed amount. In the end I paid 1800 KES (approximately 10 EUR) and arrived as relaxed as I could be. 😏
      I spend 5 nights in total in Watamu. 3 nights had been reserved for the Kaleidoscope festival that I had bought tickets for (see my other post for that:…). 🥳 I didn’t do much in Watamu outside of that though. I only went to Garoda beach 🏝️ on one of the days. It was supposed to be the nicest beach in Watamu. So my expectations had been very high and - as usual (when that is the case) - it had been disappointing. 😔Although the beach had white and fine-grained sand, the abundance of seaweed diminished the beauty of the sight significantly. I honestly didn’t had the feeling that Garoda beach was nicer than Galu beach 🏖️ in Diani or even Watamu beach, where I went to on one of the other days.
      There is not much more than beaches in Watamu. Mida creek supposedly offers some nice views of mangrove forests. 🌳 I had already been to mangroves before and I didn’t feel like seeing that again.
      Since I was flying out of its international airport on the next day I went back to Malindi. I wanted to take an Uber 🚕 again but cars going from Watamu to Malindi were rare (at least a the time). So, it was impossible to find somebody who would drive me for a reasonable price. I simply tried with a matatu 🚐 instead and was lucky. Not only could I immediately hop in into one along the main street - it was also going all the way straight to Malindi (initially, I thought I would have to change buses in Gede) so that 11 am I was already at the apartment in Malindi. 😊
      With less than a month until I have to go back, my thoughts revolved more and more around what the time after my sabbatical will be like. 💭 Questions such as “Which new insights have I gained through the past month?”, “Did these experiences have any impact on my beliefs and values?“ as well as “Which goals should I persue and what impact might they have on my private and professional life?” came to my mind. So, I used my time in Malindi to start thinking about that. 🤔
      For lunch and for dinner I went to the “Baby Marrow” restaurant again. It seems it has become my favourite Italian restaurant on the east coast of Kenya. 😅

      On the next morning, I took a flight ✈️ back to Nairobi. My plan was to cross from there into Tanzania. 🇹🇿 As it turned out, it wasn't going to be that easy, but more on that in my next post.
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    • Day 74

      The Ocean!

      March 15, 2016 in Kenya ⋅ 🌙 29 °C

      We made it! I've been excited for the ocean for quite some time now, and we're here! And holy crap it's hot! We got here around 745am after our VIP night bus, and we already feel the heat! Usually we can start feeling warm around 11 ish, but this town didn't give us a break. We first thought we could explore the town with our backpacks and eventually stumble upon a guest house we like. That plan went out the window when we were drenched within 20 minutes of walking, just trying to make our way to the ocean front. We saw the ocean, we walked in the sand, and we went straight to a hotel the lovely fisherman said was the cheapest on the water front. Done! It's probably the worst deal we've had yet, but we were sweaty and tired of carrying our backpacks. So we got an OK price for a pretty crappy room. Meh, there's a bed and a toilet. All I need.

      Once showered, laundry done (remember, I only have 2 T-shirts, so considering the heat, I wanted to have one clean for diner time while I knew I'd be sweating through the day one), we set out to explore the town. Again, we were too ambitious with our plans, considering how hot it is. We made it to "downtown", walked around a bit. I needed to be fed, getting a little grumpy, so we found this selfserve local place and it actually had things we haven't seen yet!

      Insert - The coast is said to be a different culture, Swahili, with a higher Muslim population then inland and since its the oldest port, the population of Indian people is large due to it's trade history. Inland Kenya, much like the rest of what we've seen in East Africa, isn't very diverse. Kenya has Kenyans, and a tiny bit of Indians are visible. The coast actually has some diversity and it's refreshing. End insert.

      So the food was different! Still managed to find my chapatis though. Everything still fried, I feel right at home. Well fed, coke to cool me down, and back out we go. I blame Jack for having lost our sunscreen when she went biking without me at Naivasha Lake. Blaming aside, we had to buy more considering my glowingly white skin that's hiding under my farmers tan, is about to be exposed on the beach. 13$US that little sucker. And it's 200ml, I can't fly home with it. How insulting.

      The Malindi museum was... Well it was worth the dollar I paid to get in. Lol. Basically Jack was interested, so we got her the student price (yay for student cards!), and when he saw I wasn't joining, he assumed it was the price and said I could join for 100KSh (1$). I guess I can't really say no at that price. It consistent of exactly what I don't like about museums, pottery. Lol. Old big pots found somewhere that mean something. Sorry, I'm just really not that interested. The rest was just photos with information plaques next to them. Old Malindi photos were nice. Old traditional tribal wear was interesting... Lol.

      Now the goal, which was over estimating our energy in this heat, was to walk through the Old Town to eventually make our way to the beach. We managed to do a couple blocks, a couple market streets, constantly looking for the side of the road with shade, to then have a seat in shade and have Jack drink tons of water as she felt faint. The women likes to push herself and ignore her body until it wants to give out on her. Once her energy level was barely enough to get her up, I managed to convince her that a mototaxi to take us to the beach is an OK thing to do. Turns out, the beach was still pretty far, neither one of us would have made it!

      We're excited! We want to refresh in the water, cool down. Swim around like we're kids again. And then we feel the water. It's hotter then most showers we've had here. Not the most refreshing, but it did the trick! Jack got some energy back, I got to have my second coke of the day at this nice beach club... It was a beautiful afternoon. You can't go wrong with the ocean! My usual fear for jelly fish was yelling at me to get out, but I managed to ignore it. That is until we started making our way in to apply some fancy expensive sunscreen, and I had to get by a damn jelly fish! I saw it! I saw the whole thing, with tentacles and everything! I ran out, leaving Jack to fend for herself, and refused to get back in. Ew, jelly fish.

      Stopped by a cute little peninsula called Vasco de Gana point, and the oldest church in East Africa apparently, built in the 1490s, Portuguese. Relaxing, beautiful and sunny afternoon. After our second shower of the day, I put on my now clean and dry shirt, wash the other, and off we go to diner! This town has a large Italian influence, so the pizza restaurants are of plenty!

      We checked out 4 menus, picked a pricey but fancy one. Sharing pizza and a Rocket pesto, tomato and mozzarella something... It was delicious. Worth every penny, accompanied with some house red wine. Finally, some chocolate gilato. Omg it was good. Treating yourself every once in a while is important. Refreshes the batteries.
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    • Day 76


      March 17, 2016 in Kenya ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      What a shitty night's sleep. The mosquito net seemed to be keeping the mosquito's in, not out. We got eaten alive. Jack got up at 3am to take the flash light out and assess the damage, she swells at every bite and she was covered. I was sleeping until that point, but no way I was falling back asleep. I kept having to slap myself attempting to kill every last one of them. Plus the warmth, the sweating... Honestly shitty night. But ah well, life goes on.

      Since we were up, we tried to go see the sunrise, but the doors of our guesthouse were locked and the employee was sound asleep on his mattress close to it, so we saw no point in waking him up. We still set out early for breakfast, about an hour later, starved since we've been up since 3. Beans and rice, my favourite! Walked around town, discovered that further down the main road, passed a bit that seems like you're no longer downtown, you arrive in the rich people's downtown! A bunch of fancy buildings, living compounds, nice coffee shops, covered in tourist agencies... All of who's people, local and foreign, address us in Italian. Every person we have met is Italian, except for one German. So we settle in for a nice latte in one of the fancy shops. We're white, so we blend in, but if you looked closer, everyone there was dressed so nice, white shirts and pants that we could never keep clean, big summer hats, makeup. I've got on grungy t-shirts and shorts.

      Still hot as ever outside. We walked around this fancy downtown, and made our way cutting across living compounds to the beach to cool down. This is a different spot from yesterday, it's by the main pier, no beach clubs or restaurants on the water here. Just seems like deserted land. No one around. But the water was clear of algae and therefor inviting. I went in, attempting to forget about yesterday's jellyfish. Everytime something touched my feet, because the water wasn't clear at all, I flipped out. After a bit I gave up, went back to shore. Walking back to the pier, Jack tried to distract me from seeing a pile of washed up jellyfish, and obviously failed. There was at least 10, creepy transparent jellyfish. I'm done with the ocean for today.

      With big walking plans again, we set out to explore old town. I uploaded a map yesterday so this time I could follow with my GPS, making sure we're going in the right direction. It was a great walk through mostly residential areas. It's mind blowing how an hour ago we were walking amongst the rich, and now we're walking passed clay and wood structures that I hesitate to call houses... People were saying hi, no calling out of muzungu, no following us around selling anything... Kenya is starting to grow on me. We finally found someone to sell us handkerchiefs, being tired of having "water" drip down our faces. In this same little shop (wooden shack along the road), we bought this lovely piece of material to add to our hookah lounge collection. I don't think she's ever had white people buy things in her shop, because right away we got the best price to date. Local price. If she only knew she just blew her first opportunity to screw over muzungus.

      Making our way to the waterfront, well hotels along the waterfront, I set out on a mission to find one that will let us use their pool. Those jellyfish aren't getting me! After passing a few, we found one that was beautiful and affordable, but I reevaluated. We're at the ocean. There's a huge natural body of water right in front of me and I'm looking for a pool... Screw that. I know Jack well enough and she's dying to jump into the waves. So after all this careful walking to the beach clubs, we grabbed a mototaxi back to the pier so Jack could jump in the ocean, free of algae (the water at the beach club area wasn't as clear of algae then the water at the public area... Who would have thought!). I sat under the pier, in the shade, coke in hand, reading my book.

      Jack says I should mention how much fun she had. She thinks I didn't put enough emphasis on how great the water was, how fun the waves were...she had a great time. That is all.

      Another relaxing afternoon after a tiring warm day. We've drank 4.5L of water in the last 2 days... Grabbed a cheap local diner so that we could treat ourselves to that amazing gelato I had yesterday. Honestly mind blowingly good gelato. And wine. Of course.

      This time, I slept fantastic! We changed rooms this morning, since we were up so early we had time to check out a few places. This one is in town, so not on the water, so cheaper, with a fan on the ceiling and good bug nets. Lesson leaned - fan on the ceiling is non negotiable! Off to Lamu we go today.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Malindi, ماليندي, مالیندی، کنیا, Melinde, MYD, マリンディ, მალინდი, 말린디, Malindis, Малинди, Малінді, مالیندی, 馬林迪

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