I can not believe I am back to Nairobi and it’s funny weather. I Love Mondays yes, but I wish I was spending this Monday in the beautiful Lamu archipelago. I just spent what I think was the best weekend I have had all year by shores of the beautiful Indian Ocean. Wish I was still there as I write this post. One of my biggest downfalls in life or in my character is procrastination. In January my girl Gatuiri who blogs at Leo Tunapika (Such a cool name right?) talked about The Lamu Food Festival and asked me to organize a trip for it. Well, I said I would and made a mental note and I swear each week I would say that I was going to start planning but I never. When a few weeks ago the lovely and ever so sweet Kaluhi of Kaluhi’s Kitchen came and told us that she had talked to the organizers of Lamu festivals and they wanted to host us (Onja, a group of food bloggers ) in Lamu for the Food festival and we were besides ourselves with excitement. Y’all should have seen the frenzy we went into on the whatsapp group. Talking of all the food we would eat and the bikini shoots that guys would take. Lamu could not have reached fast enough. The next few days we searched for flights because I ain’t about that life of driving down to Lamu as I had last time (read about my first Lamu visit here) It took almost a day of travel before we got there and because of the fatigue from the journey we did not really enjoy. Anyway so we looked for flights and Fly540 was 15,000 return so we ended up using Flysax that was Ksh 9,999. Jambo jet too was less than Ksh 10,000 but we got late with our bookings. Fly Sax was pretty decent. From the lady who booked us, Winnie, who was very helpful and patient with our group. To the reception they gave us when we arrived at the airport. The plane they use is a Dash 8 which is a 37 seater so the flight was good not too bumpy. In board snacks were some cookies (not good at all, too little oats too much flour) , water and juice. I wish they served cold soft drinks though. With this Nairobi heat, and Lamu heat on the flight back room temperature/ warm water or juice is the last thing you want to take. Our flight to Lamu, as I had mentioned, was good, though we left 30 mins late. The plane was filled with excitement, it was noisy and bubbly. People took selfies and we took off. We had a short stop over in Malindi to drop and pick off some passengers then off we went for a 25 minutes flight to Lamu. We arrived at 4.30pm and were met by Fauz Ali one of the staff members of Lamu County. He was very cordial and warm and he led us to our “uber” for the day, a speed boat or jeti as they call it. We loaded our things and went on what must have been the scariest ride I have had in years. The sea was not very calm and the boat was going very fast. I wanted to fly hehehe but we made it safe. The view as we were going to Shela was beautiful. The smell of the sea, the promise of an awesome weekend, endless blue skies and a beautiful panoramic view of the archipelago. We were staying at Kiwandani which is one of the moon houses, it was beautiful. But that is a post for another day so watch out for it. We had dinner then a late night swim and the next day we went for the Lamu Food Festival. To be honest I did not enjoy the festival much. The brands there were brands I could find in Nairobi like equatorial nuts, Pwani oil and Kericho Tea, surely what does Kericho tea and Equatorial have to do with Lamu? The other exhibitors were the county and their stands and they were not at all exciting. They had types of fish that no one really knew much about and another stand with nuts and other items. They had stands with different coastal foods but no one to answer how one can cook them neither did they have samples. Like I have never tasted some of the fruits and grains on display it would have been good to taste and even take some home with me. They had no stands with different local food stuff for us to sample and buy. What I was expecting was TOO MUCH FOOD, like me saying “Hey, put that food away from me I am just too full” but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. The only thing I had there was mhogo (cassava) that was being sold outside the festival. There was also someone selling mitungo (boiled maize) as Gatuiri said it. That made me literally LOL . The disappointment from the festival however did not stop us from enjoying Lamu. We had so much fun, we ate such amazing food. We stayed at Kiwandani which was beyond beautiful, it was such an amazing place. All those I will give details to in other posts but for now. Here are a few other things you need to know before you go to Lamu.
Jeti/Speed boat costs This was one thing I never thought about because when I last traveled to Lamu I never went to the other islands. Though the cost of our travel around Lamu was mostly catered for by the county, I couldn’t help but think about how much it would cost one to move around from island to island. On the last day Gatuiri and I took a jeti on our own from Shela to Lamu which cost us ksh 200 each. This was about 7 minutes of riding. Again from Lamu to Manda cost us ksh 1000 both ways. The driver had asked for Ksh 2000 ($20) but we negotiated it down. If one was to move up and down the islands you could easily spend around Ksh 3,000 ($30) or more on speed boat fare. Alcohol Alcohol is not readily available in Lamu as it is in Mombasa. This is a largely Muslim society and alcohol is definitely not served in the local restaurants. Restaurants owned by none locals serve alcohol but it’s not cheap e.g we went to Diamond beach for drinks and a tot of Famous grouse was Ksh 350. A bit on the high side if you ask me. There are also really no liquor stores. One would really have to look to find. I carried my own and would advise anyone who knows their thirst levels to do the same. Carry Baby Oil and Baby Powder If you are a thick girl like me or even a much smaller since some slender ladies in our group experienced the same problems. Carry this two to put on your thighs to avoid chaffing. Mine got so bad I have scars. I was not well prepared for this as I never chaff. Moha had some baby oil that really calmed my thighs down. So just carry, even if you think you do not need it, just in case. Cash They have banks with Visa accepting ATMS so do not panic. Mpesa was also accepted in all the restaurants we went to. I would, however, advise one to carry loose cash for when you want to buy street food or go on the jeti. Look out for my post soon on street food. Also check out my travel companions blogs and hear about the experiences from their eyes. Gatuiri leotunapika.com, Kaluhi kaluhiskitchen.com, Jayson (jaytakeapic.com) Kaz(kathyskitchen.com) Moha (foodsnfoodies.wordpress.com) Lyra (lyraoko.com)