December 31… a date so fraught with Party Plans and New Year’s Eve Outfits and New Year’s Resolutions. A mentality given to a date to say farewell to the old and karibu to what the world has in store during the coming year. In true Nairobain fashion, I headed out of Nairobi and to the coast to ring in 2011 on the shore of the Indian Ocean with Sam and Jess.
This is how my three night mini-vacay tallied up:
- 1 – New Year’s Day sunrise over the Indian Ocean
- 1 – Meal in The Cave
- 2 – Incidents of potential Diani homelessness (one occurred and was rectified prior to departure)
- 2 – Ferry rides
- 2 – Calamari meals. The best at a little shack on the beach called Colobus Shade.
- 2 – Hours spent travelling on a dhow to a sand bank and snorkeling
- 2 – Cappuccinos of the finest quality from Aniello’s
- 2.5* – Hours spent between leaving our cottage and actually getting to go snorkeling
- 3 – Scoops of the most delicious ice-cream
- 4 – Swimming sessions in the Indian Ocean
- 4 – Number of AKFC fellows I rang in the New Year with
- 6 – am bash attended for New Years Eve at Safari Beach
- 7 – Hours spent on the overnight bus with Modern Coast to arrive in Mombasa
- 21.5 – Hours on the train returning from Mombasa to Nairobi
- Unknown – Number of kikoys worn at 40 Thieves. I can’t count that high.
- Unlimited – My love for being on the coast
*How did I spend two-and-a-half hours trying to go snorkeling, after having set up a pre-arranged snorkelling outing? Allow me to provide one story from my Diani diary:
8:30am – Left the cottage to catch a matatu to meet the snorkelling Contact, who is based far enough down the road that Jess and I paid the matatu as a private car once the matatu route ended. (The bodas we were meant to take were not around on Sunday morning.) The pair of us continued with the mat driver and conductor to be dropped in a parking lot beside a wilderness centre building where we met said Contact and two of his associates.
9:10am – Upon arrival, the Contact (who we’d been in constant contact – hence his name – arranging our snorkelling expedition since we arrived) greeted us and said [paraphrasing], “I will brief you on the wilderness centre’s activities and then we will go into the forest.” This he said while standing between the two other men. All strangers. This is the first we had heard of the forest. Ummm, no. Somehow snorkelling had gotten mixed up with seeing the Kaya Kinondo sacred forest. Which I actually would love to see. Just not when it’s my last day in Diani and I want to be in the sun. Explaining all this, as well as many a “pole sana” takes some time.
9:40am – So Jess and I decided to walk the 7km back to main strip, but along the beach because it would be a nice morning stroll and besides, there was no public transport on the road at the time. Along the way, we battled a Seaweed Field and the Slippery Cement Walk of Death trying to flag a boat to carry us along the shoreline. Unsuccessful. Continuing along the Seaweed Field containing Forgotten Pools (and potentially the undead) we were approached by a young man who introduced himself as Captain Alpha. The good Captain said the Contact had called him to tell him of two ladies walking down the beach wanting to go snorkelling. With no boat in sight, surrounded by seaweed, and a sandal stuck in one of the Forgotten Pools, his title of captain seemed unlikely. We said we changed our minds, no longer wanted to go snorkelling, and were looking to simply enjoy the morning walking along the beach (please picture this exchange while I am constantly losing my footing and my sandals in this apparent pleasure stroll)… alone. Captain Alpha bowed out gracefully and continued walking in front of us.
10:30am – After another 20 minutes of walking in Captain Alpha footsteps, I began to wonder if he really did have a dhow and if his dhow has a nice mast and whether he really did take tourists snorkelling. So as we approached the white sands and left the Seaweed Field I called out to the Captain and asked to see his boat.
11am –Captain Alpha’s dhow came into view, exactly what Jess and I were looking for, and we happily and ungraciously climbed into the dhow and began our boat ride on the Indian Ocean on the way to snorkeling.
A lovely way to spend our last day.