Sunday, June 15, 2008

African Adventure: Lamu Part 3: A Donkey Expedition & a traditional Swahili Meal (May 14-16)

Current Location: Lamu Island, Kenya.
Highlights: Taking the donkeys to Matondoni and watching how a traditional Swahili meal is cooked.
Upcoming: A close encounter with deadly snakes, flamingos on L. Bogoria, and north to Lake Turkana

I'm quite far behind with the diary entries as we have spend so much time traveling, its been difficult to keep up, but catch up I will!

Ok, so here is part 3 of our time on Lamu.

Lamu looked completely different the day after our return form the dhow trip. The sun was shinning, in contract to the rain of our first few days, and the place was just so much brighter, almost happier. We wanted to go to the other side of the island to see the town of Matondoni and the only way to get their was on foot, by boat, or by donkey. By car was not an option as there are no roads and no cars! Since we had just had a boat trip and done lots of walking, we opted for the donkey ride, so arranged to hire some donkeys the next day.

For the rest of the day we walked around Lamu and took pictures, then decided to take a walk down the beach to the town of Shella. Now Shella is an interesting town. It is full of incredibly fancy and very large houses owned mostly by Europeans and Americans many of whom are what we might consider to be the rich and famous and some royalty too. In fact Shella is one of those hideaways of the rich and famous! At the moment an Italian guy is having a castle built right on the beach.

We got up early the next day excited about the donkey ride to Matondoni and met up with Jamile who was coming with us. Matondoni is much less touristy than the rest of Lamu and is the local dhow building center. We met our donkeys, mine was called Julie (I forget Aaron's donkeys name) jumped on and off we went! I expected the small but strong Lamu donkeys to charge off along the sand track, but no. Instead Julie reluctantly plodded off just a little slower than I could walk. Hmm. All the donkeys I had seen on Lamu charged everywhere sometimes with two people on their back, but Julie was in no hurry. So we plodded off towards Matondoni.

***NEWS FLASH: I won't tell you were I am right now as I write, but its way out in the boonies. Three dirty dusty white people on motor bikes have just walked in and said "so hey, you are the Edventure guys!" Apparently they found the web site before leaving Europe and recognized the Land Rover. Back to lamu......***

It took about 2 hrs to reach Matondoni and we found the only "restaurant" in town. I say "restaurant" because it was little more than a stick and mud structure with a table where you could buy food. We asked what was on the menu and they said they could cook shark prepared Swahili style, all we could eat, for 150 KSH each. Although 150 KSH is actually very expensive by local standards, what actually happens is that this 300 KSH in total we were to pay, would feed the whole family. They invited us to see how the meal was prepared which was an absolute pleasure to see. Coconut milk is prepared by cracking open a locally collected coconut, draining the water inside, and using a spiked implement to scrape out all of the flesh. This is then placed inside a large sausage shaped bag made of woven palm leaves and squeezed tightly with some water until white liquid, the coconut milk, comes out. Other flavorings and sauces (made with tamarine juice) as well as rice were made using a variety of ingredients and everything was cooked on a wood fire inside a small "kitchen". The whole fascinating process took about 2 hrs. Unfortunately I can't send pictures as I will send this e-mail with the satphone, but I will send pictures later. The lunch was absolutely delicious and we were totally full up.

We took a walk around Matondoni and saw some amazing sights, just everyday to the local people, but amazing to us. For example, a little boy had just caught a large crab on the beach. So he made a fire with some old palm leaves, and tossed in the live crab. A few minutes later he was eating his crab lunch. After our walk around Matondoni we jumped back on the Donkeys and headed back to Lamu.

The next day we had just one small piece of business left to finish. You see we had bumped into Ali, told him that we were upset with him, and he agreed to refund us some money. So we agreed to meet him later and he paid us back some of the money he had taken from us. In fact, it was much more complicated than this and I won't go into the full story. If you do want to know the full story you will have to buy the book! This was our last day in Lamu so we spent the rest of the day taking in the sights and sounds. We left the island the next day on the first ferry at 6.30 am in time to catch a bus to the town of Malindi further down the coast.

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