Mombasa, KenyaMarch 23, 2015 in Kenya
Mombasa is Kenya’s most important port and is situated on an island just on the coast. Arab sea traders influenced the city’s early history as did the Portuguese, who also controlled the city at times. It was ruled by Omanis for extended periods and the result is an African city with heavy influences of Muslim and European colonial architecture and culture.
Quite gritty, there were warnings on our ship about how best to safely visit the city. We had done a safari the first day of the stay, but wanted to explore the city itself on the second. We therefore took a ship shuttle bus into downtown and hired a local street guide to show us around for two hours for $10.
Our guide looked official at first glance with his patches, badges, epaulets and military boots but the “Revolucion” patch above his pocket and “Che Guevara” on his back revealed otherwise. His commanding, definitive presence led us through street traffic where he boldly crossed using only his outstretched hand to stop the taxis and tuk-tuks. We scurried to keep close to him and avoid being stranded in a no-man’s-land of vehicles.
He took us through spice markets where we bought several spices, not because we can bring them into the US, but just to be able to enjoy the colors and smells for awhile. He described historical sites and led us into a particularly bloody meat market where Ali almost threw up when a vendor pulled out a camel leg and hoof from under a table. It was a very dramatic moment!
The Arab/Africa blend that makes up Swahili culture was evident in the ornate balconies and doors of many of the buildings. The influence of the Omanis will also be seen in Zanzibar, our next stop.
The first photo is some of the architecture in Mombasa.
The second photo is Ali and our guide.
The third photo is the spice market we visited.Read more