Monthly Archives: December 2013

Lamu.Tuesday 17/12/13

No photos today but some pictures in my mind.
I miss the roof terrace at Jambo House, the sound of sweeping in the morning, the ever-present washing on the rooves and the children in their rags and veils wanting high fives. And the beautiful voice of the muezzin from the old mosque.

Instead I get the birds, swallows or swifts,wheeling over the water in front of the veranda in gusts at dawn and sunset and the hurly burly of the harbour.

I hear Jambo, Hello, a hundred times a day. People are friendly and I don’t get too hassled. They call me Mama and sometimes Queen. A man from a shop where I did not buy, even complimented me on the Kikoi, or cloth skirt, that I bought more cheaply from a stall.

I love the bright, clashing colours
of the clothes people wear. Some of the Muslim men wear little white pillbox hats called Kofia that recall old connections with Oman and the Yemen. Even the women in black robes have colourful veils or gold or silver sequins and look beautiful. Outside of their homes they seem to have a degree of freedom and stop and chat to the menfolk, but traditionally inside the homes men and women had separate quarters.

The men play “Bao la Kiswahili” a form of Mancala, the game that resembles Backgammon, but here it has four rows of eight pits. Each player has 32 seeds or stones and it requires a mathematical mind. They also play Carrom, which is a bit like pool but with counters on a board.

I wander about, taking meals and drinks at different places. I sit under the ancient almond tree in the square. This morning I lay on a log under a tree looking out on a flat horizon of sea, sand and mangrove trees, all in shades of blue, blue/grey and grey/green. Donkeys wander past which seem to have no purpose or owners while others carry people, coral stones or Coca Cola crates. Sudden smells of donkey dung or raw fish but mainly sea breezes.

I’m living a lazy life two degrees south of the Equator. There’s dust and sand on my feet and in my eyes. Tomorrow I may take a boat to Manda Island – or maybe not.

Sunday 15/12/13

Had a great night out on Friday
A new party of guests came to Jambo House and they agreed to let me join them for a dhow trip to watch the sunset and have a fish dinner. Roger, Brian and Arthur were from Niarobi, had recently graduated and are involved in the production of a satirical TV programme a bit like Spitting Image I think and the channel associated with it. Ben is an American who has travelled extensively and is the creative sort and he was with his girlfriend, Shiko, who was having her birthday.
It was very kind of them to accept me. The night was beautiful, the food cooked on board by the crew spicy and delicious and the company a delight.


I’ve now left Jambo House as it was all booked up. Arnold, who runs it, is very knowledgable and anxious to please. It has good recommendations from TripAdvisor.

Where I am now is SunSail Hotel which is right on the quay.




It’s twilight, I’m drinking ginger beer and watching the passersby.

Thursday 12/12/13

So, cycled round Hell’s Gate in Naivasha.
This is Fischer’s Tower, where the two men who help people climb it introduced me to the rock hyrax, who share a distant relative with elephants. They admitted to me that they have given them names.


My pictures of them didn’t come out well as they are small and were in shade but you can find them on google

More pictures of the park –



And of Njorowa Gorge which I was shown through by a Maasai guide called Jacob. It was a bit of a scramble down and up out of it and there are very hot springs along the way.




Anyway, failed to find out anything about my father’s farm, Glasslande, and it was raining so have now taken a room at JamboHouse on Lamu island.
I’m staying in the town, because I’m not much of a beach person. It’s shabby and friendly and sunny. No cars but lots of donkeys and boats.
This is a picture of two little boys with “hobby donkeys” – a stick, a piece of rag and a length of string.


Today was Kenya’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. Their were parades and speeches in the small town square. In the afternoon I was on the roof terrace and heard a woman giving a speech. The crowd was roaring with laughter and it sounded like the “save Bwian” scene from Monty Python.

Tonight lying under a ceiling fan, a mosquito net and listening to John Cale.

Saturday 7/12/23

Yesterday I did not say anything about the people I travelled with.

Our guide was Masivu, who did everything for us, informing us about the wildlife, cooking, washing-up, loading and unloading the truck and always in a good mood.
Our driver was Salano, who has worked as a guide himself and was employed by “Big Cat Diary” for six months. Unfortunately he is not in this picture.



I had the good fortune to share a tent with Cassi, an Australian who trains horses as well as promoting horse-related products. She was both interesting and interested in everything. This is a picture taken when she and I were the only ones to watch the Maasai warrior training and their dances .


I also made friends with Jim and Greti and they have invited me to look them up if I am in Washington. He is English in origin and she comes from Chile.

Some reflections today on travellers. Some add up the number of countries they have visited, which I never would have thought of doing ( though I have nothing to brag about) or collect fridge magnets or cloth badges. I quite like those who buy original and authentic artefacts for their home (though I have no home). And of course they have plenty of tales to tell and advice to give. But some do seem to me to be acquisitive rather than inquisitive.

Friday 6th December

Safari finished in Nairobi yesterday. In six days we saw just about every African animal you could think of except big cats, wild dogs and crocodiles.
The first day in Nakuru we drove through the park and camped in a field. It rained and the showers were cold.
The next day we were able to walk among the zebra, giraffes, elands, buffalo . . . Camped at Carnelly’s, right beside Lake Naivasha.



But the best time for me was when we went to a Maasai camp and village in the
Loita Hills, “Kenya’s last great
Wilderness”. They rise to 2000 metres and look out over a vast plain. Our guide was Singali, 53 years old with two wives. His knowledge of the country and plant life was fascinating e.g. they use camphor sticks in their houses and the leaves for bedding and deodorant as no insects can live in it. He has taught three generations of Maasai warriors and is of high rank in his tribe. He is wonderful and great fun. This is him on Crocodile Rock.


In the evening two younger Maasai made a fire using two sticks and he explained that this is the time they recount the happenings of the day and allocate tasks for the next.
The following morning we visited the village which is by a natural hot spring.




The houses are tiny, covered in cow dung and have four rooms – one for the young cattle or goats, one for cooking, one bedroom for the husband and wife and one for the children – ten in one case.

A small child in a small house

Inside the kitchen/living room

The ladies

The last two days were in the Maasai Mara. There we saw a large herd of wildebeest who had just crossed the river from Tanzania as part of a small migration. They galloped past us – and five minutes later they galloped back again as not enough rain had fallen to make it worthwhile to move. The banks of the river were lined with bones and carcasses of those which had crossed before and had been caught by crocodiles.

Tomorrow I’m going back to Naivasha. More to come.