Imagine a white sandy beach, a turquoise & sapphire blue Indian ocean, and swaying palm trees right on your doorstep. This was my 4 day vacation to Diani Beach…
Diani Beach is a short airplane ride and taxi ride away from Nairobi; a popular vacation destination for Kenyans and tourists alike because it is a little slice of heaven that is very accessible. Our travel to Diani Beach took a bit longer because we hit CRAZY traffic in Mombasa; suddenly the expected 1 hour taxi ride from the airport turned into a 3 hour drive in a damp, heavy heat. But when we arrived at our accommodation we were quickly rewarded. I stepped out of the van and was blown away… I was staring at a postcard. I immediately wanted to kick off my sandals, run through the fine white sand and plunge into the ocean.
Instead we were greeted by the cottage’s personal chef, Mohammed, with fresh orange passionfruit juice to enjoy on the patio. But I quickly made it into the ocean; I’m a water baby forever and always.
Our cottage was beautiful but still beach friendly- the walls and floors were whitewashed so we could traipse in and out of the house soaking wet no problem. It was modestly decorated but really homey and we immediately settled in as if we had been there for weeks. There was even a lovely little bookshelf so no one would be left without a beach book. Our personal chef was a great, making us breakfast and supper each day we were there. Vendors came to our doorstep to sell us fresh seafood and vegetables; the seafood vendors would take our requests and do their best to catch what we wanted. Over the weekend we had white snapper, crab, and prawns and each meal was divine.
On Saturday we decided to take a break from reading on the beach and go to Leonardo’s, the place to go for gelato. They had at least 24 different flavours! I had a scoop of cashew nut and a scoop of double dark chocolate; I had never had cashew nut gelato and it did not disappoint. The perfect mix of sweet and salty. On the way home we each jumped on a Boda, a taxi motorcycle, to get back to our cottage 3.5 km away. It was so fun to have the water blowing through my hair (Sorry Ma, no helmet… but I’m still alive!) but my hat blew off. I had tapped the driver to say “oh no! my hat! we must turn around!” and looked back to see an SUV coming up quickly behind us, its passenger wheel just about to annihilate my hat. Luckily, they stopped and a man on the side of the road came out and picked up my hat for me. I didn’t even have to leave the back of the motorcycle for that rescue mission!
I spent the rest of the time lounging on the beach and swimming in the ocean. There is so much life in the Indian Ocean! I saw/poked/stepped on jellyfish (thank goodness they weren’t stinging ones!), saw floating coral, seaweed everywhere, and crabs dashing into their holes in the sand. I decided not to go snorkelling to convince/bribe my Papa Bear that we need to go on a nice family vacation to a beautiful lively ocean. This way we can drive the rest of our family crazy by talking incessantly about ocean life together.
Each night the moon was insanely bright. On Saturday we saw the lunar eclipse over the ocean laying on beach lounge chairs enjoying a pre-dinner Tusker Malt. Early Sunday evening, the moon was bright orange and as it got higher in the sky it got brighter and brighter until it was a spotlight for the ocean. Absolutely stunning…
On Monday, we had to leave in the afternoon to catch our flight in Mombasa. We gave ourselves 4 hours thinking that would be lots of time, but then we reached Mombasa and found a line-up for the ferry that was 3 kilometres long. It could have been less but the amount of people around, honking horns, and the slowness of the ferry only enhanced our potential panic. Our driver first attempted to skip the line and bribe the ferry people to let us on but they weren’t having any of it. So, he made a few calls and found another cab for us to jump into to cross on the ferry. We pulled on the side of the road of a busy intersection and grabbed our bags to run across the street and through some street shops to get to the other car. In the process I was almost completely run over by a matatu. I had my hands on the hood of the car pushed myself away and managed to slip between a slim space between another vehicle and the matatu; simultaneously watching the matatu move forward while exchanging a few profanities with the driver…
I never believed that matatu’s would really ‘not stop’ for pedestrians and I probably pushed my luck a few times in Nairobi. My theory was that it was like Italy and I would just give the driver the stare down while I crossed the street. On Monday, I found out if there are people in a hurry in a stressful environment those things aren’t stopping for NOBODY. Unless you are paying them. But because of our driver’s connections we got to the airport with an hour to spare.
Back to the cool mountain air of Nairobi for my last 10 days in Kenya.