by Tego Wolasa
With a playful nudge and a mischievous glint in her eye, Fifty-three, my intrepid companion, stirs me awake on our sixth and final day in Lamu. “What time are we going for lunch, Lola?” she asks, her question laced with humor, considering we haven’t even had breakfast yet.
After a leisurely breakfast filled with laughter and conversation, the Lamu Palace Hotel’s non-functional ACs, thanks to the island’s frequent power cuts denied us a good night’s sleep thereby necessitating a midday nap. I awake to another gentle prod from Fifty-three, ready for the adventures she has meticulously planned.
Hand in hand, we walked through the vibrant streets of Amu, the sun painting long shadows as we strolled toward the tranquil beauty of Shela. A short motorcycle ride carried us along the sun-kissed shores towards Shela’s Kijani hotel, the salty breeze whispering secrets in our ears.
At the Kijani Hotel, perched on a balcony overlooking the turquoise water, we watched boats and dhows glide gracefully across the waves. The gentle breeze caressed our skin, carrying the scent of the sea and the thrill of the adventure ahead.
The gentle breeze caresses our faces, enhancing Fifty-three’s captivating beauty.
Evans, the ever-attentive waiter, arrives with our orders. Fresh pineapple juice for me and a hearty meal of white snapper and nan with a refreshing Pina Colada for my adventurous companion.
As we finish our meal, our captain’s call beckons us for a thrilling ride on the ocean. My quick order for a masala tea (which somehow ends up in Fifty-three’s possession for a “photo shoot”) marks the start of our journey.
Our adventure begins with a visit to Shela Public Beach, followed by a breathtaking ride along the shores of Ras Kitau. Captain Omar expertly navigates the boat, effortlessly gliding over the water as we head towards Kisumu Ndoto on Manda Island.
Unfortunately, low water levels prevent us from reaching our destination through the water channels. However, Captain Omar proves resourceful, arranging a motorcycle ride through the lush greenery, past bustling quarries and donkey carts laden with building stones.
The ancient air greets us as we finally reach the ruins of Takwa, a once-thriving 15th-century city. We explore the remnants of the grand mosque, walk along ancient pathways, and marvel at the Omani houses with their clear walls.
Lali, our knowledgeable guide, takes us on a journey back in time, weaving tales of the city’s glory and the struggles that led its inhabitants to flee to Shela.
As the sun begins its descent, painting the sky with hues of orange and purple, Lali leads us on a refreshing walk toward Pristine Takwa Beach. The 15-minute journey through the dense greenery along a narrow, white-sand path proves invigorating.
Fifty-three, with her playful fear of dogs, faces a new challenge as Lali’s three canine companions bound around us. Their playful antics only add to the joy of the moment.
Finally, the breathtaking sight of Pristine Takwa Beach unfolded before us. Crystal-clear water, warm and inviting, stretches before us, beckoning us in for a swim. The beach was everything we had imagined and more.
We swam, dived, floated, and flirted, the gentle lapping of the waves and the soft sand beneath our feet creating a world of our own.
It was just us: two souls lost in the beauty of the moment, with only the sky, the sand, the ocean, and the nearby dark green growth, Lali, our ever-present photographer, and his three dogs, the playful English crabs scurrying in and out of the sand holes as witnesses to our private paradise.
No beach day is complete without a race, and we were no exception. We sprinted along the soft sand, the laughter echoing in the air, and for a moment, we were simply two carefree souls lost in the beauty of the moment.
As darkness descends, we reluctantly return to the ruins, our laughter echoing through the air. Lali accompanies us to the channel, where Captain Omar awaits our arrival on the wooden bridge.
Through the silhouettes of thick mangroves, we embark on a wordless journey along the narrow water channels, the quiet hum of the boat’s engine lulling us into a contemplative trance.
Captain Omar enjoys his miraa and Ethiopian Oromo beats, his love for these songs from a faraway land fueling the rhythmic hum of the boat engine. I lose myself in the melody, my voice joining Captain Omar’s as we sing along. Fifty-three, however, chooses to delve into her photo gallery, seeking solace from the eerie darkness that seems to close in around us.
The ten-minute ride feels like an eternity, silent, eerie, dark, and still. Reminiscent of the adventurous Anakonda movie. Finally, we reach the shores of Kisumu Ndoto, but our journey is not over. We continue towards Amu, huddled close together, our clothes wet and our shoes plastered with a mixture of water and white sand.
The salty scent lingers in the air, a reminder of our exhilarating adventure. As we look back, we are filled with a mixture of awe and nostalgia. The historical echoes of Takwa mingle with the memories of our private swim and playful laughter, creating a tapestry of experiences that will forever be etched in our hearts.
Back at the hotel, we take a quick shower, combine our prayers, and head down for dinner. Afterwards, we take our customary stroll along the streets of Amu, seeking out our nightly kahawa tungu by the ocean. Sadly, Mzee Farid Silaha is closed, but we find solace in another quaint seaside open cafe, sipping our coffee and reminiscing about the day’s adventures.
Finally, we returned to the Lamu Palace Hotel, where we had a pleasant chat on the balcony…