We said goodbye to the Mara and then hit the dusty trail (which is a fairly accurate description). We took a slightly different route that skipped the really bad pavement for a shorter but all dirt path. In the end, I'd say six of one, half dozen of the other. The last long stretch was through a flat, dusty plain. It was wheat country; all the fields were plowed and waiting for the rains to come. Everything in the van ended up covered in a layer of red dust, including our bags, clothes, bodies, sinuses, and lungs.
And also my camera. All the jarring caused it to work its way out of my pocket and fall to the floor of the van. It was then bounced up and down on a dusty floor for probably quite a while. Not ideal conditions.
When I first turned it on, I got the dreaded Canon “lens error” screen. But by some banging and cleaning, it's fully functional, although there's definitely some dust up in there.
Eventually we made it back to Narok, and had lunch at the Transist again.
From there it was smooth sailing back to Nairobi. We crashed at Megan's again and all went out to dinner at Habesha, the same Ethiopian place we ate at before. It was still good and still about $6.
Thursday is a goodbye day. Michele and I headed to Mombasa for a few relaxing days on the coast. We tell Megan goodbye as she leaves for work and then drop Laura and Kahenya off from our taxi on the way to the airport.
I finally went upstairs in Megan's apartment. Doing the math, I find that she has a four bedroom apartment with four full baths and two half baths. You could pee somewhere new everyday of the week (if you held it on Sundays).
Our flight to Mombasa is cheap ($110 per person round trip) and easy (45min). Our taxi to our hotel takes significantly longer than the flight.
We picked our hotel out of the Lonely Planet. It's on Tiwi beach, south of Mombasa. We hit traffic, then have to use a ferry that takes forever, and then another 15 minutes of driving.
Our hotel is actually self-contained cottages. it's what's refered to in Kenya as “self-catered,” i.e. you get a kitchen but you have to bring and cook your own food. Because of that we make our cab driver go past the hotel to a Nakumatt (a supermarket). Michele runs in and grabs some food.
We finally arrive at the Coral Cove Cottages at about 3pm. It's been well over an hour since the airport. The cottage is nice and breezy, but it's still hot and humid in Mombasa. Nairobi is a mile high and dry; Mombasa has neither of those things.
Shelley and I head to the beach. It's nice, white sand and palm trees, but it's low tide and there's not anywhere to swim. There are just some tide pools behind the reef.
In the shade and breeze, it feels quite nice though. We sit and read and have a walk through the shallows. Our first time in the Indian Ocean!
The only annoyance is the beach boys, guys who are constantly trying to sell us stuff. They're polite, but it's still annoying.
We have dinner at the resort next door, Twiga Resort. Fried fish and rice, and a Tusker overlooking the ocean. Not bad!
Last full day in Kenya. We start the day with a breakfast of cereal. We're up extremely early because of roosters crowing out of our window. We only have cold cereal because we don't matches to light the stove. A great start.
Eventually, we get some matches and heat up some water. We have to have cowboy coffee because there is no coffeemaker.
Michele gets an hour long massage for $12. Definitely the highlight of her day.
We spend some time in the water and near the beach (trying to avoid the beach boys). For lunch we shoot for egg sandwiches but have no oil/butter, salt, pepper, cheese, or anything with flavor. I turn out something that might be called an egg sandwich for Michele and then eat a pb&j. We really weren't prepared for this “self-catering” thing.
We decide to go to Diani Beach for a little more action. Our cab driver drops us off at a shopping center that's “near” everything. We buy some souvenirs and realize that we're over a mile from the bar we want to go to. We start to walk, but end up getting a cab because it's hot as well. In 10 minutes, Michele has a bad sunburn.
We hit the beach bar and have a couple of Tuskers. Michele gets bitten by three mosquitoes.
We take a cab to a pharmacy to get something that would require a prescription in the US. It helps immediately.
That gives us the strength to go for a walk on the beach. We're accosted by beach boys. Michele pretends to only speak Spanish. That seems to help.
We go to a nice restaurant, Ali Barbour's, for dinner. A misleading sign sens us over a route 5 times longer than it should be.
Ali Barbour's is a cool underground restaurant that's carved out of a coral cave. It's actually quite fancy (white tablecloths and amuse-bouche), quite good (we have red snapper), and they accept credit cards (which is quite rare).
We catch a cab home. Michele takes a shower, but we run out of water part way through. Not hot water, all water.
I take a sponge bath with bottled water and call it a night. The coast is not seeing us off well.
Saturday is going to be a long day.
We start with continued water problems, but eventually we both get a shower.
There are ants in our cereal and mold in our bread.
We do get a nice surprise when we pay our bill: our cottage was cheaper than the others, so it was $10 less per night (~$50 total).
Our cab driver, Mohammed, is a ˝ hour early. Every cab driver on the coast seems desperate for work. They all want to set up future rides with us and give us their number.
Mohammed drove us to Diani yesterday and made sure we used him round trip by not accepting money after the first leg. Both trusting and effective.
He drives us into Old Town Mombasa and sets us up at a hotel to store our bags. The don't have storage space but rent us a really small hotel room for 1000Ksh. Everyone on the coast has something to sell.
We visit Fort Jesus, a coral-built fort made by the Portugeese in the 16th century. Then the Sultan of Oman took over, followed by the British eventually, leading to the strange mix of cultures on the Swahili coast.
We take a cab to a nice restaurant called Tamarind. Our cab driver is once again desperate for business. He stops by the giant tusks over the road (a Mombasa landmark) and even takes our picture. When we get to the restaurant he says he'll wait for us for as long as we take, no charge. Our return fare is more important to him than searching for new fares.
The restaurant is awesome. Great seafood with a nice balcony over looking Mombasa and its aquamarine harbor.
Sadly, our experience comes down a notch when a really, really obnoxious American sits at the table next to us. He's really loud, crude, and rude with a posse of friends. Michele is certain he went to USC. (We found out he did live in CA and his wife grew up there.)
The absolute best part of about Tamarind: the bathrooms were air-conditioned.
Because sweating is basically the number one activity in Mombasa. I feel bad for our seatmates on an 8 hour flight later.
Our cabbie takes us back to the old town, where we collect our bags and call the other cabbie (Kennedy) that we promised we'd call to get to the airport.
We get to the airport at about 4 for our 6 flight to Nairobi to catch our 16-hour-later flight to Boston.
Of course, as we walked into the airport, we were preceded by a huge group of French tourists. They each had 4 suitcases and quickly filled up our check-in line.
We easily waited out our first airport, and had a 45 min flight to blissfully cool Nairobi.
We had 3 ˝ hours to go through customs, get some dinner, and spend our last shillings.
Then a mere 8 hours to Amsterdam. And then a mere 8 hour layover in Amsterdam.
Thankfully, the Amsterdam airport is a good one to spend a long time in. There's all kinds of shopping, a casino, and an art museum. But we were more interested in the Yotel, a small hotel in the terminal that rents small little rooms. For 65 euros we got 4 hours in a room with a bed and bathroom. We both decide that it was one of the best showers we'd ever taken.
After a shower, a nap, and a fresh set of clothes, we're ready to tackle our last 8 hour flight.
Total time from leaving for the Mombasa airport to arriving at our apartment: 32 hours.
But was it worth it? Definitely.