so long, and thanks for all the fish
After spending the better part of two weeks on safari, jostling along many of Kenya’s bumpy roads, we decided to end our holiday vacation with a trip to the coast. November to March is typically dolphin season in Lamu so we headed there in the hopes of getting a chance to swim with these remarkable animals.
We rented a house that was less than a minute’s walk from Shela beach. With Lamu’s perverse tourist economy, it was significantly cheaper for us to rent a five-bedroom house than it would have been for the four of us to stay in a hotel. The houses typically come with staff, including a cook, which can be hit or miss. The cooks in some places we’ve stayed needed a lot of hand-holding. This time, we got lucky. The cook was so good that we asked him to repeat many of his signature dishes.
Excited by the prospect of seeing dolphins, we arranged to go on an all-day boat trip our first day. We sailed through the mangrove channel that separates the islands in the Lamu archipelago from the mainland and headed out to a popular snorkeling spot. The dhow had a couple of fishing rods and we trailed some line with lures behind us, hoping to catch lunch along the way.
We had paid a small conservation fee so we were a bit perplexed when the captain dropped anchor and told us that we could go snorkeling on the starboard side while he and his crew fished off the port side of the boat. We are still not sure to what purpose the conservation fees go and had to console ourselves with the thought that the fishing was done sustainably. We had snagged a red snapper and a small barracuda in open waters and only supplemented these with enough fish to make lunch, which was cooked in a small jiko right on the boat.
We did not see any dolphins, but had a great trip nonetheless. The only problem is that the copious amount of sunblock we used was no match for the merciless rays of the sun. We all came back moderately toasted, which limited our activities for the rest of our beach stay. Dan and Milena spent a day wandering around Lamu town, but as we had toured it with D’s parents a few months ago, we elected to limit our excursion to a walk around Shela and a visit to its handful of shops.
We got back to Nairobi late on a Thursday night. Our guests flew home early the next morning while we headed back to the office. Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s had enabled us to stretch two weeks of leave into a three-week holiday. Fortunately, the pain of going back to work after all this travel was cushioned considerably by the half-day Friday and the impending weekend.