Last Sunday, I set out in Kampala @ 3p.m on a Mombasa bound bus. I felt excited, happy and anxious to discover. During my stay in Mombasa, I was challenged, disappointed & appointed. It’s been a thrilling experience i can say! The following is the journal of my stay, enjoy.
Day 1: Out and About:
I Set out from my place, said goodbye to my pets, handed my keys to my neighbor Edgar (Blessed to have him around). I met my Coach at his place and we set out for the bus; with Dalton and Isaac, fellow athletes. We left Kampala as I was torn between gobbling down a whole 2 litres of juice to keep hydrated as an athlete or Leave it alone to avoid the shame of requesting for Bus-Stops to make the resulting frequent short calls. I enjoyed my juice anyway!
Day 2: Ohhh…Yeah. I woke Up in Nairobi ?
No, I didn’t.. I was mostly awake; I’m just saving you the burden of telling you about the slow bus, Absence of clean Public washrooms at Malaba Boarder post, The mediocre checks by Kenyan Police (More on that later), and a snoring neighbor. Once in KE, i rekindled the memories of the first time i was here, I had come to Apply for a job at Andela Kenya.
In Nairobi, We had a quick Breakfast (There’s an eating place on almost every street in this city) and got back to a Mombasa bound Bus.
The journey: This was the beginning of the best parts. During my travels, I try to store a lot of landmarks that i can use to remember a place or locate a joint in a city. I have a photographic memory of Winners chapel Nairobi for that reason.
Thika, Along the way to Mombasa, looks Beautiful and chilling, Many estates, Shopping malls and a few disorganized trading centers. At this point, I can say that I want to live here one day… but I remember; I almost want to live everywhere anyway.
I didn’t notice so much of Voi and we slid into Tsavo. It’s dry, cool and for the rest of the journey the biggest sight is the Standard Gauge Railway itself.
Enter MSA: I felt a sigh of relief when i saw large water, I thought it was the ocean. We were welcomed by the Mombasa Terminus, The Port and Calm waters (How sweet!). We loved the sight of calm water because Lake Victoria had been on strong tides through our last week in Kampala, Not good for technique training.
We took a Tuktuk to Tudor where we met a Kenyas National coach. We booked a low cost hotel and Went Down to Tudor Marina Water Sport Center; Which would be our venue for the coming days.
Save for the Tuktuk induced traffic, everything in this city made it look clean, calm and more organized than other places I have been to.
Day 3, Tudor Water Marina: A mint cold breeze sways through here, Calm waters welcome the sunrise, Coconut trees complete the coastal feeling and a natural ambiance relaxes all nerves.
Row, Row, Row!: I came here on vacation, but I’m not into relax and do nothing vacations yet. Mine was planned with the Kenya National Qualification Regatta in mind. It was to be a one week training camp ending with Qualification races for the World Championships this September.
I love rowing.
Tuesday: Training Begins, We rowed at 18 and 40 SPM. I loved the experience of rowing in the Racing shell. I rowed with Isaac in adouble and it felt so easy and swift. The water we are Rowing in is salty, yeah! Super salty. There are crabs all over the beach, wow!
Meals: Food in Mombasa is not salted; to compensate for the salty water maybe. The tap water is less salty though but we had to resort to buying bottled water for drinking. I love Kenyan food for it has a bigger portion of proteins and Vegs: thats Healthy. So I ate Fry (Meat), Ugali (posho) and Chapati for the rest of my orders. I had a restaurant that makes good juice that i took twice for breakfast but as with all local African businesses, They were not consistent and reliable so I missed it on the other days.
Wednesday: Single Sculls After training which we did morning and evening; We went for Shopping. We had got camping space at Tudors with the Ruiru Rowing Club guys so we went to buy camping supplies (mimi Mattresses and Masai Sheets). As we walked through the streets, My love for street food kept tingling. I started with madafu (Young coconut juice).. Its Yummy and they said it cleanses the kidney. I also ate street irish, sumbusas and Many other snacks whose names i can’t recall even when the taste was Tamu.
Thursday: I’m Missing My Mac. I had last used it on the bus and It had refused to power on since then. I wit Dalton; took it Outside town to an Apple store for Repair. After repairing the laptop, We had IceCream at CaffeCerie, Naivas, at Nyali Center. (same mall) after which we headed to Pirates Beach, the largest public beach in Mombasa.
When we row at Tudor, We do it at a water channel that breaks out of the ocean. It’s at Pirates that we had the chance to step into the Open Ocean. Dalton checked an item off his bucket list for that!
Friday: After training and Class Sessions by Barry, a coach from SA and Alex; a rower from UK. We headed for Shelly beach, We were guided by phoebe a Para-Olympic Rower. Shelly really deserves its name, It has clear waters, A long shallow area and Lots of shells that are washed ashore. We collected lots of shells from there. We also got to taste coastal fish
Saturday: Race Day! My Race was in Heat 2: With a poor show of performance. I struggled to keep the Direction with an opposing current and I felt so tense. I think I need more Races to get used to this. After the races, I visited Mombasa Butterfly House, Fort Jesus and SwahiliPot Hub where a WordCamp was taking place.
Sunday: Race Finals. I made a good time yesterday and qualified for the finals. I went into the race more confident and I rowed steadily save for the poor squaring that slowed me down.
After the Races, We had a closing discussion and I went back to Swahilipot Hub. Today was classic, I never regretted going to SwahiliPot and not Diani BEach with my friends for I made a lot of new friends.
Britone: He is Passionate about Technology, Community and Volunteering. He is the Technology leader at the Hub and We are in talks with him to start Developer Circles Mombasa.
Robert: He works with Britone on a startup called Explore PhotoTrip. He is also friendly and engaging in intelligent conversations.
Latifa: She blew my mind. We met when her friends dared me to get my number. She is an Android App dev and the only lady student in her class. She is also beautiful, with a warm magnetic smile.
Ruth (Gichina): Ruth is an Android developer, Straight Outa University, She was offered a job at a startup that connects you to The nearest Lawyer to you using a mobile App. I loved talking to her about the Nairobi tech scene and happy to ind out that we know many people in common.
Abdulahi Hoosh: He is an aspiring software developer. He told me of his passion for software and I shared lots of advice to him and his friends.
Mwanamkasi Madzumba: She is the CEO of Ntaraza Brand that does among other things digital printing and branding venture. She also shared advice and tips she’s used to make it thus far on her entrepreneurial journey as a Presentation during the WordCamp. Her T-shirt prices are good and I’m looking forward to getting samples from her.
Odibo and Jeremy: These are my new Partners in Crime! Odibo is WordPress Evangelist and Freelancer while Jeremy heads a Tech Consultancy firm in Nairobi. We shared a lot as we walked from the hub to town after our event, Enjoyed a bit of Mombasa’s Crazy Night Life together and they rushed with me when my Bus was almost leaving without me. I had fun with these guys.. I have never connected with anyone so fast and well.
ENDING: Theres this rule that all properties in Mombasa shall be painted White and Blue. I laugh whenever i think of it but many houses already are. To me, Mombasa is a larger version of Jinja. The people are peaceful, welcoming and the evenings are so chilled. Its a city with fewer advantages of being a city and just a normal happy life. Jeremy says it can make you think that life is a paradise.