And for once I was SuperMom

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mombasa Christmas Vacation -- Part 2

The beach at Mombasa was gorgeous. And full of young persistent men trying to sell you anything. We would go for a walk and like Jaws you could see them coming out of the corner of your eye, “Jambo, brotha,’
Scott is not your brother, I am not your sister. And no one says, ‘Jambo.’ At least not in Nairobi. Not since last time I watched the Lion King have I heard “Hakuna Matata” said so many times. In our five previous months in Kenya I don’t think I heard it once. But suddenly in Mombasa, every other word is “Jambo” or “Hakuna Matata.” And having white skin not only means we get assaulted with tourist Swahili, it means we must have a burning desire to buy anything from marijuana to shells to a ride on a camel. Even when Scott assured them that we live in Nairobi and can buy the trinkets at a better price there, they wouldn’t believe him.

I made the mistake of laying out for an hour by myself (on my stomach with my nose planted in a book), Scott was burned and wanted to stay in the shade. I had worn sunscreen, I still needed a tan. I was approached by three different men, one of them told me I was a beautiful lady (he wasn’t even looking at me when he said this, I do have peripheral vision) and that he wanted to tell me a story. All I could think was, ‘I am not a doughy English girl with low self-esteem, go tell them your story.’

I hate monkeys. If you have never lived in Africa you probably think they’re cute. You’ve probably never had them break into your hotel room and steal your food. We have. One morning we get up and go have our coffee on the beach, when we were coming back up to our hotel’s lawn to drop our belongings and take a walk the guard stops us and tells us there are monkeys in our room. I thought he was mistaken, Scott believed him. We went to our room and there were monkeys in our room. They had opened the doors (which we hadn’t locked properly, still that’s no excuse) They had stolen our fruit, our home made granola, and the tortellini that we bought, because it’s my favorite food and I hadn’t eaten in six months because we hadn’t seen it in Nairobi. (Nakumatt is hit and miss) I hope it gave them indigestion. Although a bit miffed, we were thankful that at least they hadn’t strewn our food and their own excrement around our room.
I have always dreamed of swimming with dolphins. One of the excursions that they advertise in Diani Beach is a boat trip to swim with dolphins. We decided to do it, because we had saved money on our accommodations and you only live once. They pick you up from your hotel on a nice bus and drive you south about an hour to a Marine Park off the coast. Decent bus, nice ride, we check out the other white people on this excursion with us, Germans, English and us. So far things are looking enjoyable and safe, then we pop a tire. The bus driver spends about a half hour trying to get the tire off, he keeps trying to take off the lug nuts in the other direction. All the western tourists start up, ‘Nonononono, turn it the other way.’ We would look away for a moment and then turn back and he would be jumping up and down on it in the wrong direction. ‘Nonononono, turn it the other way.’ He’d move to the next one and start turning it the other way, ‘Nonononononono, turn it the other way!’ Another bus picked us up and took us to the dock, without any flat tires.
I love boats and I love dolphins, something that I am in denial about is that I get seasick. Like really seasick, not just a little nauseous, but violently ill. Especially if I eat on the boat. This excursion included breakfast on the boat. It was a choppy day. I didn’t last twenty minutes before I was laying on my back and wishing I hadn’t eaten that mandazi. We spotted dolphins very quickly. Well, everyone else did. I held on to the gunnels and told myself it was okay, I see them at ‘home’ all the time. (Never mind I haven’t lived at ‘home’ in about four years) So everyone else on the boat jumped in the water and began to swim with the dolphins. At the last minute I woozily rose to my feet and over to the edge of the boat because I have literally dreamt about swimming with dolphins and threw myself in the water without mask and snorkel. Okay, on an American ship, they never would they have allowed me to do that, but I’m in Africa. Right as I did it two dolphins swam right by me. Victory.
So our guide was leading people on a mad hatter swim around choppy ocean water and I soon realized that I was in no shape to do this. During this Scott gets to see a whole pod swimming up towards him from under the ocean. I am actually truly happy that he got to see this. One of us should enjoy themselves. They put us in a speed boat so we could chase the dolphins and swim with them. I immediately start giving my mandazi back to the ocean, as I am doing this our guide yells, ‘Dolphins!’ and leaps over my head into the ocean. People start leaping over me. I realize what I am doing into the water that people are jumping right into. I switch sides. They put me back on the big boat. I hang onto the gunnels and try not to think about it. Everyone else goes snorkeling. They put me back in a speed boat to take me to a sand bar to rest. More mandazis. I rest on the sand bar with my husband, in about two minutes I feel fine. The sand bar goes away, back on the boat. More holding of gunnels. The whole time our boat is surging up and down and dropping and pitching and each time it does and my stomach lurches up into my lungs and back down into pelvis I think that this is so antithetical to my personality. I love rollercoasters, boats, the ocean, adventure, so unfair. I will be writing a strongly worded letter to my stomach.
Eventually we drop anchor to eat lunch and I see that the German girl who was also sick, as she told me on the sand bar in cute English, was sitting in the speed boat with her brand new doting husband. One of the German tourists motions that they are taking her to the shore to eat lunch and get off the boat. Scott and I ask to go as well. Scott admits to feeling queasy as well. Within two minutes of sitting on the shore I feel fine and am devouring my fish lunch. Luckily they took us to our docking place, so as my other sick friend said, ‘No more to go to boat.’ I think I shall invest in Dramamine…I hear the Canadian version is better.

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