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Monday, 7 May 2018

Watamu, on the Kenyan Coast


Watching David Rocco’s ‘Dolce Africa’ made me travel back in time… back to December when I first set foot onto Kenyan soil. With a sort of nostalgia, I admit.
I had wanted to travel to Kenya so much! As I recall the line of events, I feel that stubborningly hanging on to that dot on the Kenyan Coast – i.e. Watamu – was the best choice I had made prior to starting my trip through East Africa, alongside Marcel.
The animals we saw in Kenya’s national parks we had chosen to explore were a delightful experience… but something was missing. Maybe our safari would have been best if self-driven. Maybe there wasn’t enough chemistry in our van. Maybe I expected people to amaze me more.
I was lax. Disappointed. Without those sweet memories to take back home.

But that changed. I think that it started in the express matatu we took from Mombasa to Gede junction. People were more cheerful, discussions were flowing freely, the vibe was better.
We arrived after dark at our stop and – contrary to my fears – the parking lot was full. And my ears were no longer perceiving Swahili or English words, but…
-        Vieni, signorina.
A tall local told me, as he grabbed my backpack.
Of course, we negotiated and we did find our accommodation for the night. It was splendid, still is. One of the best of my travels, all-time: Zawadi Residence. The lavishness fighting over the simplicity of the décor, the choice of colours and furniture… I couldn’t find anything out of place… and I am one picky girl!

Finally, I was happy to go out and eat something that I loved – travelling as a vegetarian is sometimes hard –! The crispy pizza and the cooling lemon sorbet had made my evening! All in a very classy spot, with many elegant guests dressed in white and some lovely music selection – ‘Come Back’; we eventually did. The Italian community had done an impressive job in Watamu, by blending the highs of both nations.

We soon befriended our very creative host, Tiziana, and – during a flavourful breakfast – decided to stay one more night. Everything seemed so simple: we would be taken straight to Mombasa airport the following morning, as we were heading to Zanzibar. All at a very correct price.
It was time to relax, then. As Marcel had read about one of the top worldwide snorkelling spots, which could be reached straight from the main beach, we grabbed our gear and were soon on our way. There was only one small detail we had not considered: there had been a huge storm the previous day all through South Kenya… and the visibility was not that great. Perfectly clear waters offering an unforgettable view over the reef had been replaced by murkiness and waves.

Still, it was an adventure! …which we quickly exchanged for a new one, as eagerly as we put on new clothes, because the heat and humidity were excruciating.
I was enjoying my frozen tiramisu, which came with 5 different delicious dips, when we noticed Denise, an Italian lady in love with travelling we had befriended, who was staying in the same place as us, and we talked and talked and talked… providing and receiving suggestions.
Shopping was next. What did I like in Watamu? The quality of the items. The laid-back attitude. Very little or no harassment at all. We bought beautiful and useful products, at good prices. As many as we knew could fit into our backpacks, because this is how you compute your space when you’re on the road.
Could it get any better? Yes. With coconut water – I have always had a thing for coconuts.
The sun was already preparing to set – time does tend to pass so quickly when you really enjoy a place, doesn’t it? So, we went to the beach, using another road. And wows couldn’t be stopped. The finest sand I’ve ever touched… and the warmest water of the trip… it looked so surreal that I had to go in for a dip! And I did! Marcel had fun his way, playing some football on the same beach.

We were both happy and it was hard to really say goodbye the following day.
The thing is I still wish to return and snorkel properly. Could this be the ultimate pretext? :D  

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