We restart the story in Diani Beach Camps and Cottages, where I eventually stayed almost a week ago. Few pictures of the beach—roughly 100 meters from my bed—to start:
If you are ever considering a holiday to Diani, I emphatically recommend this place: beautiful food, comfortable facilities, a bar, a pool, negotiable rates, and an incredibly friendly owner. In addition, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner’s sons, Andrew and Dane, who were easily the two nicest Kenyan dudes I’ve met so far. Andrew will likely be running the business in a few years; him and I are pictured here:
The next morning, I left for Nyali Beach, a small town north of Mombasa, which has a nice Backpackers at which I figured to stay. I woke up, went for a run, ate a full English breakfast, and packed my stuff. Two matatus, a ferry carrying several thousand (cargo and chickens aboard too, of course), and a tuk-tuk later, I arrived at the hostel: big lawn, pool, kitchen, chef, and a lodge with a Spanish roof. Even better—Nyali Beach Backpackers only ran me $9 for the night. Not so bad. I imagine I’ll do a post a few months from now detailing how and why traveling is far less expensive than most would realize.
After dropping off my things, I grabbed another tuk-tuk into Mombasa, where I hung out for the afternoon. Cool city. Initially, I did my standard walk-around routine: brandish and guard the SLR, talk to a few locals, snap a few pictures, dodge in and out of cars, and generally just attempt to give the impression that I’ve been there before. After about 2 hours of this, I arrived at Fort Jesus, the main tourist pull to Mombasa. It’s a pretty impressive building, the Fort, built by the Portuguese several hundred years ago to protect themselves against Arab and English colonialists.
Upon arrival, I was summoned by a man offering me a tour. Usually, I’d say no very quickly, but I was greeted in French, and I haven’t spoken much French in a while. I eventually hired the guy, $10 for two hours, under the condition that he conduct the entire operation in, of course, the official language of the France. He turned out to be an excellent guide, and after the tour, he took me around and taught me about the Old City. Beautiful area, with lots of interesting Arabic influence and architecture. Couple of shots:
Wish I could have stayed a day longer, but alas, the upcoming safari beckoned. This in the next post. After the Old City, I shared a tuk-tuk with my guide back to the Backpackers, as he was headed in the same direction. Met some great people that night—I think we even had 6 continents represented at the drink-a-few-beers-and-share-travel-stories-round-table that happened by the pool. Two of the Finnish girls, apparently “media engineering” majors, taught me how to do some cool things with my camera. Light painting and zooming in and out during 10+ second exposures:
The pinnacle of the night, as likely evidenced by the title of this post, was a story told by a kid named Yonnas, a Sudanese native who now lives in Sweden. To start, I’d like to say that most Americans have a very skewed view of Africa: it is not one big bloody tribal war. I’m sure many thought I was bat-shit insane to come here alone, but so far, I’ve felt rather safe and comfortable. No real incidents at all—just general “Africa being Africa” hassle. In addition, I haven’t seen any blood or gunshots, believe it or not. Just a vastly different way of life from my own.
In any event, Yonnas’ story begins with Yonnas traveling from Ethiopa to Kenya. He was in a small town in northeast Kenya named Moyale, and sought to take the bus to Nairobi. Roughly a 30 hour trip. Since we know life is about the journey and rarely the destination, I can definitely see this type of bus ride being a lot of fun; I’m sure you’d see a whole lot. So, just after departure, Yonnas’ bus happens to drive through, you guessed it, a tribal war—Ethiopans versus Kenyans. The next thing Yonnas knows, there is a villager, with a Kalishnikov, sprinting towards and shooting at his bus. Next, without hesitation, Yonnas’ driver cooly de-boards the bus and starts shooting back. I couldn’t help but laugh—it was so very Hollywood. Yonnas hit the floor, and seconds later, a bullet hit the window two seats in front of him, and shattered glass all over a woman. Can’t make this stuff up. They finally made it out alive, and Yonnas said that the passengers were legitimately teasing him for hitting the deck afterwards. Laugh—out loud. Again, it’s not funny, but you can only meet a story like that with uncontrollable, teary-eyed cackling. Unbelievable.
The next morning, I woke up at a staggering 5am, and headed into Mombasa to grab the bus to Moshi. Bizarrely, the coach left on time—sharply at 7am. I figured I’d get some sleep, but after 5 minutes, I realized this was a hilarious impossibility. The ride started on a road with more potholes than road itself, and only got worse. It quickly shifted to a dirt path, then a drag of sand, and then just basically plowed through the bush—cows and chickens and donkeys diving out of the way throughout. The bus was bouncing, most accurately, like a sailboat in a thunderstorm—cruising along at 30 degree angles with the vertical, bouncing me 6 inches in the air. Standard monster truck X Games stuff. Since we again know life is about the journey, well, I enjoyed the ride appropriately.
Seven hours and a $9 fare later, I arrived in Moshi. I learned some more Swahili from the bartender, grabbed a $4 plate of rice and curried shrimp, and headed off to bed. Another 5am wakeup, this time for the safari. Details and sexy pictures in next post.