Member preview

Diani to Kilifi to Malindi

It's raining the morning we leave Diani. We catch a tuk-tuk to the main road, snag a matatu heading north.

Mombasa is an island; you have to take the Likoni ferry to get there from the south. The motto "ferrying you across" checks out: it works, no frills. Pedestrians pay no fare, so we're quickly pressed into the sea of colorful umbrellas crowding on.

It's a drive-on ferry, but I'm not sure any cars have made it; foot traffic takes precedence. Our umbrellas overlap, forming one giant, dripping roof where we crowd onto the open platform.

I'm not even sure we've made it past the ramp until Eileen notices that the shore is receding. We're on the flap that's supposed to fold up, but, well, we're standing on it. It stays down.

In five minutes, there's clanking and motion from the other side of the boat: docking. We follow the motion of the crowd up the ramp to the road.

I tap the shoulder of a matatu tout. "Kilifi?"

He points us to another guy, who shepherds us into a bus which waits passively behind a crowd of parked tuk tuks.

The bus smells like cigarette smoke. This matches the decor; the windows are painted with too-cool guys exhaling curls of white. Reggae plays loud, and occasionally louder as the driver leans forward to turn it up.

The bus sits unmoving for maybe an hour. Buses don't leave if they're not full. The emptiness of this bus means a long wait, but we're out of the rain and the front seats were free with legroom enough for our packs.

We resume our rest activities, writing, reading books. It's important to be patient or self-entertained, because schedule is not up to us (not much is up to us, here). We have accordingly portioned out the whole day for this three hour drive.

Eventually, we pull into the street.

We've spent no time in Mombasa; we only pass through. From the bus it feels small: several narrow, bustling roads.

A defunct fountain in central Mombasa has been spray painted: "Uhuru Kenyatta must go". This isn't the first we've seen of the sentiment, though I think it's the most blatant. On the beach, someone asked me: "Did your president rig his election, like ours did?"

We had planned to walk to our lodgings in Malindi, but it's pouring rain when we arrive and the streets are flooded with foot-deep puddles.

We're heading further north, but Malindi is more or less the end of the road. You can take a bus north from Malindi, but it's harrowing. A fellow traveler said it took fourteen hours to get to Lamu, and about twelve military stops to check every passenger and bag.

The safety measures are welcome; the road is a target of Al Shabab this close to Somalia. But we'll fly the rest of the way: we have cheap tickets in the morning to the archipelago of Lamu.

A tuk-tuk braves the puddles for us; we cram with our packs into the tiny backseat. Tomorrow we’ll reach something new.