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Christmas Greetings

 

 

 

Lund December 11th 2011

Dear readers of this blog,

We came back to Europe from Kenya in the end of May. The last week of May we spent in Prague and it was really lovely to be there. It was summer and the trees were all green and the flowers were amazingly beautiful. Time passes fast when you are having a good time and soon enough we were home again.

After a couple of weeks at home, I went to Berlin with my grandchild Philippa. She is 22, an excellent age. We stayed with my friend Mechthild, who lives in Potsdam. She is a teacher of English. We had a lovely time, went for sightseeing in Berlin, saw the famous Pergamon museum, went for a boat trip on the river Spree and cycled around in Potsdam, where we among other places visited the castle ”San Souci”. Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg, a very nice town close to Berlin.

The rest of the summer months we spent at home, meeting friends, visiting relatives and enjoying the summer. We were in Denmark for three weeks in August, looking after a cat and we stayed in the home of our Danish friends, Birgit and Lars. Most of the time, however, it was raining. The peaches that they cultivate fell down from the tree, but we were lucky to taste a few of them.

From September the weather has been fantastic, very warm and we have enjoyed it. Although it is supposed to be winter it is not freezing and we have no snow.

During the autumn retired teachers from the school where I used to work have been having three meetings, We have all been working together for more or less twenty years so we miss each other and therefore want to be in touch now and then. We are more or less sixteen people and we meet once a month and spend some enjoyable hours together at my favourite place in town, which is called ”Gattostretto.” The owner is an Italian guy from Rome and he cooks very nice pasta. You can see photos from this place at my blog.

Now Christmas will come soon so I have been baking different kind of cakes like ginger cakes, fruitcake and some other kinds of cakes as well. One special Swedish cake is baked to celebrate the 13th of December, which is the memorial day of a female saint from Sicily, a day which strangely enough is celebrated in this country, which is a Lutheran country and not catholic what so ever. However, the cake is good and we like it. The name of the cake is ”Lussekatt”.

Anders has got an appointment with a surgeon and will have a new knee inplanted on December 21st. He will probably have to stay at the hospital for a couple of days but we have to cope with that, and I am not going to be alone because one of the sons will come home for Christmas.

We do not have any future plans because of the operation. First of all Anders must recover and thereafter we can decide what we want to do and if we want to go somewhere.

We wish the readers of this blog the very best for Christmas and the New Year and say thank you for reading the blog. We also say thank you to our dear friend Elsi Lehto who is our skilled blog master. She was – by the way – the one who suggested me to write now for Christmas.

Finally I want to wish the readers of the blog
A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

 
Gunilla and Anders

Leaving Scorpio Villas

On May 23rd, I left Scorpio villas by car heading for the airport of Mombasa. The trip took more or less three hours and during these boring hours I was thinking of all nice people I had met at Scorpio, the wonderful couple who own the place – Sara and Simone Mancini, their lovely children – Lorenzo, Luca and little Chiara, Anderson who was responsible for my bungalow, the man who looked after the pool and Andy the barman. Patrick Kalume from Aberdeen and Marian and Frank Swift from London. I will miss all of them.

 

 

Flying back to Europe

From Mombasa to Nairobi it took one hour to fly and then I had to sit at the airport in Nairobi for many hours to wait for the flight to Zurich, which took seven hours. Early in the morning on the 24th, I arrived in Switzerland and it was easy to find the terminal where I had to wait for the connection to Prague. That flight took one hour and at 9.30 I was in Prague.

It was in Prague we had started our voyage in December 2010 and it was in Prague that we finished the first five months of 2011.

 

Early morning, the 24th of May

We had booked a room in a hotel with the name Kampa, which is located in Kampa Park in the heart of Prague. I was very tired when I arrived and was therefore grateful when I was offered a room almost immediately so I could sleep because I had not slept at all during the flight, which took place during the night.

 

Kampa hotel has a lovely location in Kampa Park

When I woke up late in the afternoon Anders had arrived and he was sitting outside in the garden waiting for me to wake up and we had a couple of beers and discussed what to do during the week we were going to spend in Prague. The location of hotel Kampa is excellent, namely in Kampa park and the weather was lovely, warm and sunny and all flowers and trees were blossoming and the beer was as good as it always is in Prague. What more could we wish? Kampa Park enclosed here.

 

 

  

 

Holesovice market

Seven days pass quickly. We went to the market in Holesovice by tram because we had to buy a new luggage. After a lot of travelling two luggages had been completely worn out. We had a nice meal in an Asian restaurant at the market and we stayed there for a couple of hours. We also found a luggage that we both liked and at the airport on our way home we left the old luggage empty to somebody who wants it.

 

The pub “U Cerneho Vola”

A visit to the pub U Cerneho Vola is a must when in Prague so we took tram number 22 to get there. The pub is situated close to the Prague castle and to the Swedish Embassy. You can see a photo of us when we were sitting at the pub. I have written about this pub earlier in my blog.

 

 

Meeting a good friend

We also met our good friend Anna Cerna in Prague and we went with her to have lunch in a very nice restaurant in Kampa Park by the name of Nostitz and the food was really nice there. We had asparagus with hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon and thereafter we ordered hot raspberries with ice cream and we had a nice Czech wine with this lovely food and it was really fine to meet Anna again and to listen to what she had been doing during the last year and to hear about her four grandchildren – two boys and two girls – and her two daughters.

 

“Kachna” – duck and Apfelstrudel for lunch

Every day we went to different places like another pub by the name “U Pinkasu” at the Jungmannova square and we went to have lunch in a small restaurant close to Vaclavske Namesti. The restaurant has the same name as the street where it is located – “Provacnicka” and it is in the proper centre of Prague. They have lovely food there and we had “kachna” which is duck in Czech. It is served with red or white cabbage and most people have it with dumplings but we prefer potatoes. We had “Apfelstrudel” and coffee with cherry wine after the main dish and could hardly move from the table when we had finished our meal. The portions are very big and generous.

 

Malteske namesti is a beautiful square in Mala Strana

One day we went for a walk in Mala Strana around Malteske Namesti, which is a beautiful square with many small restaurants and cafés and another day we want to Namesti Republiky, and then we walked back to our hotel, which took us forty minutes or more. At the old town square it was hardly possible to walk because there were big groups of tourists who had come to Prague for sightseeing and all of them visit the same places so sometimes it is very crowded in the centre of the town and most of the time I try to avoid these herds of people because I have already visited the places they are visiting and I would never join a big group like that led by a guide anyhow. I would feel like a sheep led by a shepherd.

 

Back home the 30th of May

Time passes quickly when you are having a good time and soon it was Monday and time for us to go back home and in the evening of May 30th we landed at the airport of Copenhagen and then we took a train to Lund and came home at around seven. We were met by our grandchild Philippa who helped us to carry our luggage and for the first time in five months I slept in my own bed and enjoyed it. Our bed is big, cosy and comfortable.

 

The market place in Lund

The next morning I took out my bike and cycled to the market where I bought asparagus and strawberries and baby potatoes and then I cycled back home and cooked a lovely meal. I also bought heering, something we always miss when we are somewhere else. The heering we eat with raw onions and it is delicious, especially if it is served with sour creme. Now it is very nice weather here, warm and sunny and people are outside most of the time and enjoy the company of friends and relatives. It is nice to be able to cycle around in a green town with many parks and a nice market place where we can buy all the vegetables and fruits of the season.

 

Future travel – going to Berlin to meet a friend

We have found all our things and unpacked everything and are slowly adapting to this kind of life, but soon I shall be leaving for Berlin, where I am going to visit my friend Mechthild Flohr who lives in Potsdam and I am very much looking forward to meet her and will stay with her for a week. The distance from here to Berlin is only 300 kilometres so it takes less than an hour to arrive there by flight. In Potsdam I will visit a famous castle by the name of “Sans souci”, in German “Ohne Sorgen” and it was built by Federic II of Prussia in the 18th century during the period which is called “The enlightment”. Voltaire used to spend a lot of time at the court of Federic II and is supposed to have said that German is a language for soldiers and horses. However, I do not agree.

 

The food in Scorpio Villas is mainly Italian except the breakfast

 

Do not come here if you want to loose weight…

Three meals are served here every day – breakfast from 8.00-10.30, lunch from 13.00-15.30 and dinner from 20.00-21.30. In the afternoon the guests can have free tea or coffee and cakes in a special place where they can sit comfortably and before dinner free wine and snacks are served and the guests can sit in very comfortable chairs next to the restaurant, and listen to music because an orchestra plays here every evening.

 

Mr. Simone Mancini is a brilliant chef

I have never eaten such good food as here outside the borders of Italy. Mr. Simone Mancini and his wife Sara are the owners of the place and Mr. Mancini seems to take great interest in the cooking and he is probably a brilliant chef, and he teaches the staff how to cook excellent Italian food and I do not think that any of the chefs here ever has been to Italy so therefore it is quite amazing to come to a restaurant in Kenya and eat such delicious Italian food.

 

Breakfast

The breakfast is abundant with everything you can wish, toasted bread, different kinds of Italian cheese, many kinds of jam, cakes, yoghurt, cereals with milk, porridge, bacon, baked beans and eggs according to your taste, boiled or fried or scrambled. Even pancakes are served and many kinds of fruit and juice. The coffee grows here and is therefore fresh and good.

 

Two buffets daily – pranzo e cena

Lunch and dinner are served as buffets but before you choose from the buffet you are served a starter – “antipasto” – in Italian – and the first plate – “primo piatto” in Italian. “Il primo piatto” is always pasta. There is a choice between two different kinds of pasta. The pasta could be different but it is always made in the kitchen here by some of the chefs, responsible for pasta. Sometimes it is gnocchi made of potatoes and sometimes it is tagliatelle, penne or some other type of pasta, but it is always delicious and fresh and the most important thing cooked “al dente” and the sauces served with the pasta are just fantastic.

 

The menu changes every day

The same dishes are never on the table for both lunch and dinner. The menu is changed every day even now when it is low season here and few guests because of the rains. It is raining every night and sometimes even in daytime.

 

Decent prices for wine

The menu is written in English and Italian and wine is served with the food and the wines are from different countries. I usually have wines from South Africa and it is not even expensive. White wine is always chilled and served by a special waiter who knows about wines. I usually have a wine by the name of Versus from South Africa and a bottle costs about 10 euro or 9 pounds or less than 100 Swedish crowns, about 75 and it is sufficient for two meals and is kept for you by the bar with the number of the bungalow written on the bottle.

 

Main courses – learn some Italian…

Here you can read about the main courses we can choose between in this paradise.

I am using a dinner menu, but the dishes change from day to day so this is just one example which shows what was served one special day of this month of May 2011.

 

Main courses

Piatti di carne – Meat
Arrosto di maiale
Scaloppina al limone
Coscio di agnello al forno
Sminuzzati di vitello al rosmarino
Pollo alla creola
Involtini primavera
Vitello tonnato

Piatti di pesce – Fish

Spiedini di pesce alla griglia
Filetto di white snap gratinato
Frittura di calamari

 

How much can you eat?

All these dishes are waiting for you at a big table and at another table you will find different kinds of salads with many different dressings, olives, olive oil and balsamico, fresh bread is also at the table as well as potatoes, rice and different kinds of vegetables. The starter will probably be a few small dishes like “Uovo al occhio di bue con asparagi”, “involtini de melanzane con prosciutto e patate”, “involtini di pollo” and “insalata creola”. After the antipasto – starter – you have had il primo piatto, which was the pasta and then finally you can ran to the buffet table to check if there is something you like there. It is not easy to choose I can assure you. You have seen what there can be above.

 

Desserts and prices

And finally you have a lot of cakes and tartes at one side of the table and other kinds of desserts which you can eat if you have any space left in your stomach and do not forget the different Italian cheeses and all the tropical fruits and the cup of coffee and the ice cream which is included in this dinner or lunch.

The price is 1200 Ks per person which is more or less 11 euro or 100 Swedish crowns or around 10 pounds. But if you live here during this rainy season and pay for a room and full board the price will be 4000 per day for one person and for half board it is 3500 for one. If you double the prices you will have the price for two of you. And 4000 KS is about 300 Swedish crowns, 32 euro or 30 pounds, but you can check the value of the shilling at the Internet to be sure.

 

Do you feel hungry after having read this text about the food from the region of Marche in Italy? 
Have a look at the web site www.scorpio-villas.com

 

Later on when I am back in reality photos to this article will be added.

 

 

On April 25th we came to Malindi by flight from the island of Mandain the Lamu archipelago. A friend of ours, Babu, at Shella had recommended a hotel in Malindi where he usually stays when he has to go to the mainland.

 

Malindi is a place where many Italians live permanently and it is located about 120 kilometres north of Mombasa at the coast of the Indian Ocean. Many people here speak Italian which suits us perfectly.

The hotel where we stay you can find at the Internet. It is called “Scorpio villas” and the owners are from Italy. The place is really good. Around 47 bungalows there is a tropical garden with bougainvillea, flamboyant-trees, palms, hibiscus frangipani-trees and lots of other flowers and plants.

The bungalows consist of one room and a bathroom and a veranda. In every room there is a television with several channels and if you want you can be connected to the net.  

In the garden there are four pools with sea water and the beach is private and belongs to the hotel. It takes a couple of minutes to go there so what more can we wish.

 

 

 

 

There is a restaurant with Italian food where the guests have breakfast and if they want they can also have both lunch and dinner there and these meals, as well as the breakfast, are served like buffets and the food is something special with meat, fish and seafood, salads, tropical fresh fruit, yoghurt and different kinds of cakes.

Around the pools there are bars and the service is excellent. You imagine being in paradise. Every morning somebody comes to clean the rooms and the verandas. The hotel has also a laundry. If people do not want to leave the place they can easily spend all the time here.

 

Most of the guests are from the UK because a British travel agency, Cosmos, has a contract with the hotel so each week people come here to spend one, two or three weeks and they can choose between full board or half board or only B&B.

We have discovered that half board is excellent because then you can choose between lunch and dinner and both meals are served as buffets and the food is really good, the best we have eaten since we left Peponi restaurant in Shella. They have Italian cheese of different kinds, pasta, soups, sea food, fish and dishes like “vitello tonnato”, pollo al cacciatore”, scalopina and similar famous Italian dishes and they know how to cook it. With the food you can drink for example South African wines of different kinds and they are also very cheap.

 

In the evening people meet and get together for a drink and before dinner all guests are invited to have wine and snacks for free at one of the pools. I must say that I have changed my mind about “all inclusive” because here it is really functioning very well but that has probably to do with the high quality of food and the excellent service. More than hundred people work here.

 

After dinner an orchestra plays evergreens and those who feel like can dance. We have met very nice British people here, of whom most are from London and we have also met Patrick who you can see on the enclosed picture dressed like a chief. He is very funny and makes us laugh a lot every day. He has his family in Scotland where he lives and works but now he is here for holidays to visit his mother who lives in a traditional village not far from here.

 

Patrick, a new friend whom we have met here

 

As a conclusion I can say that I would recommend you to come to this place for holidays. It is really good and the British tourists pay around 400 pounds per week which includes flight fromLondon, transfer and half board and they are really happy as they find it very cheap.

 

Outside the hotel doors there are taxis which you can take and go to town if you need something there and to the airport of Mombasa it takes a little more than two hours from here by bus and the road is quite good, I think it is a good idea to consider spending your holidays here instead of in expensive places in Europe because the weather is very good here even if it is supposed to be winter now. Sometimes it rains but mostly during the night.

So this is all from Malindi for now because it is soon time for us to go to the pool and have our sun downers.

 

Shella 20th of April 2011

A review of “The Africa House” by Christina Lamb

“In the last decade of the British Empire Stewart Gore-Browne built himself a feudal paradise in Northern Rhodesia, a sprawling country estate modelled on the finest homes of England, complete with uniform servants, daily muster parades, rose gardens and lavish dinners finished off with vintage port in the library.”

At the café close to the Internet centre at Shella I saw a pile of books for sale. One of them was Karen Blixen’s book about her African farm, and another one was a biography about the life of Stewart Gore-Browne which I bought and started to read at the very spot and I continued reading for two days and have now finished the book. When you read something which you find interesting it is difficult to finish the book because you know that you will miss it, and that is the case with an excellent book like this. It is like being separated from a good friend living far away.

This book fascinated me immediately. I read on the back of it that Christina Lamb is a British foreign correspondent, who has visited and lived both in Africa, Asia and South America. She has built her story about Gore-Browne on literature but mainly on archive studies, letters and interviews with relatives and other people who were close to the main character like workers at the estate. And she has indeed succeeded in getting very close to Gordon-Browne and his family members. In the introduction she writes:

“The date etched on the heavy oak front door was 1923, but the house looked much older, it’s sloping tiled roof and arched terraces battered by the African sun and rains. A magnificent three-storey pink bricked mansion, with a tower in the centre, a reed tiled roof, and a line of elegant arches supporting a first-floor terrace from which a Union Jack fluttered limply. Rising behind it, a granite hill provided a dramatic backdrop. Part Tuscan manor house, part grand English ancestral home, and all completely unexpected and out of place in this remote corner of the African bush. Surely, only a madman or a megalomaniac could have built such a place.”

In the introduction the writer continues to tell the readers how she first got to know about the house and how she came to visit the place in the company of one of the grandchildren of Stewart Gore-Browne.

The story is about a man with a vision and his vision is to build a home at a beautiful place in northern Rhodesia, close to a lake full of crocodiles by the name of Shiwa Ngandu, which means Lake of the Royal Crocodiles. Even Mr. Livingstone had visited this place “and one of these very crocodiles had devoured Livingstone’s little dog Chitane…”

Gore-Browne was born at the end of the 19th century and came to northern Rhodesia as a young man and that was when his dream about a manor was born. He participated in WWI and thereafter he returned to Africa. He came from an aristocratic family and had been studying at one of the expensive British schools for boys, Harrow. He was not a rich man, but quite well off because of his aunt Ethel. The lady was his father’s sister and ever since he was a boy he had a very close relation to this relative, who was twenty years older than him and married to a much older man. The couple lived at a very big estate in England. There is no doubt that she was not only wealthy but also very beautiful with hair of the same colour as strawberries. Whenever Gore-Browne was short of money she sent him what he needed and she helped him through her whole life. She died when she was over 90 and Stewart Gore-Browne was present at this sad occasion to say good-bye to her.

This aunt was the love of Stewart Gore-Browne and he always hoped that the two of them one day would live together. Almost daily he sat down in his library and wrote a letter to his aunt. But when he had settled down and started to build Shiwa – the name of the manor – life took another turn. When visiting England in the beginning of his 40s he met Lorna, a school girl of 19 and the daughter of his first love in life, a girl who had left him to get married to another man. Mother and daughter had the same name and Lorna was an orphan because both her father and mother had died so she was living with different relatives whereof many were unwilling to care for her. Despite the 25 years of difference of age the couple got married and Lorna went to live at Shiwa and in a few years time they had two girls. Lorna Katherine and Angela.

Lamb describes the marriage as unhappy and soon Lorna goes back to England to study agriculture. She leaves her children behind and creates a life of her own. After some time she returns to Shiva but leaves again and finally Stewart Gore-Browne agrees to a divorce.

The biography is about a great personality, about a man who is passionate and determined, with visions – not only for himself and his family but also for the country where he lives, for the people of Africa and their future.

The book is very fascinating and it is difficult to stop reading. However, it is not an “Easy reader” – on the contrary – I would say, because there are many names of animals, flowers, trees that one might not know. 

The book describes also how that part of northern Rhodesia became Zambia, how the people of the country came to power, the struggle for independence and how Kenneth Kaunda became the first president of Zambia.

I read the “Afterwords” and noted that one of the grandchildren of Gore-Browne has taken over Shiwa which was abandoned for ten years or more and today it is a hotel with safaris as main attraction. At the same time it is run as a farm like once upon a time.

If you want to read a real good book I sincerely recommend you to try to find “The Africa house” written by Christina Lamb. You will not regret it.

 

 

Lamu archipelago is Muslim

The islands of the Lamu archipelago are all Muslim, while the rest of Kenya is predominately Christian. Charles Miller writes about the islands in his book “The lunatic express” in the first chapter in which he also quotes Basil Davidson who wrote the book Africa in history”

Davidson has for a long time been regarded as an expert on African history. His books have been used at university courses of history.  Miller writes about the history of Lamu from the 8th century and onwards in his first chapter of the book and he also explains why Muslims started to settle down here at these islands, something I find quite interesting.

 

Many things are invisible

We have now been at Lamu Island since the 10th of January this year and we are still asking questions about the community in which we live. Many things are invisible for a foreigner while other things are quite clear.

 

Lamu is the most important island

Lamu is the most important island in the archipelago. The other islands are less inhabited and some islands are not inhabited at all. The most important place is Lamu town with more than 15000 inhabitants. Shella is the second biggest place at Lamu with 1500 inhabitants.

 

 

Accommodation in Shella

In this village there are many hotels as well as guest houses. The prices are different like in all other places. Here you can find every kind of accommodation from one star till five. There are also apartments for rent, some are very expensive but others are cheaper. It depends what you want to choose, the standard you want.

The high season is in December and January. That is the time when the island is crowded. Most tourists come from Europe.

There are no organized charter trips to Lamu so you have to book everything by yourself over the computer.

 

To find an apartment is not easy

We have rented an apartment. It was not easy to find it because there are no agencies or brokers here which can assist you.

If you want to find something you have to contact locals and ask them to help you, which we did and that was how we found the apartment in which we live. We like it very much because it is very nicely planned and well equipped and the standard is high.

What we like most is our living room which is on the roof terrace. It is quite hot here, sometimes more than 30 degrees Celsius, so in the evening we like to sit in our living room and enjoy the breeze.

Sometimes I sleep on the terrace as well because it is less hot there and I really like to sleep outside. It reminds me of my youth when I slept outside in Cairo, Istanbul and Athens where beds were rented at roof tops for cheap money.

But here the sounds from donkeys, cooks and cats disturb me, not to talk about the announcement of the first prayer from the mosque at five o’clock in the morning. I feel sorry for the people who have to get up so early to pray. As soon as the children are twelve years old they are expected to get up and pray together with the rest of the family.

 

Check even out the pictures in 
Shella Sunday the 20th of March 2011 – A dinner party

 

Lamu is Muslim

This is a Muslim community something which is quite obvious for any visitor. Men are dressed in long white shirts and they have a special hat on their head and women are covered all over their body with black clothes and many women also cover their faces but there are different fashions for Muslim women to dress. Some also have clothes in very bright colours and they show their faces also.

 

How people earn their living

The male population of the island work as farmers, fishermen and captains. Some are busy being owners of hotels, restaurants and shops while others work with handicraft of different kinds.

I have earlier written about the small workshops in Lamu town where people produce things like furniture, items of silver or garments of different kinds. Many people have small shops where they sell for example souvenirs. Also here in Shella there are tailors like in town.

Muslim women also work in hotels or shops or offices. Some of them are teachers in the nursery and other schools, but most women are housewifes and stay home when they get married and get children. Women get married very early because marriage is very important. It is perhaps more important than education.

 

Labour from the mainland – economic conditions

Muslim men and women seldom work in households or hotels in the service sector so that is why people from the mainland come here and settle down at the island.

These people are quite young, between 20-30 and most of them are young men. They are Christians and dress in another way than the locals from Lamu. They work with service in the hotels and restaurants of the island. It is quite hard work they are supposed to do like cleaning, washing, serving and cooking food, washing the dishes, garden work and many more things.

The salaries are very low and unions do exist, but they are corrupted so nobody joins them. A young man working six days a week, 48 hours, often has a salary like 5000 Kenyan shillings (less than 400 Swedish crowns) per month and food and lodging is not included.

Very young girls around twenty who are unmarried are employed in households where they have to do all kinds of works and they earn from 2000-3000 per month, which means a few Swedish crowns per hour only. Overtime is ordered and rarely paid for.

Very few people have a washing machine or a dish washer. It is not needed here because labour does not cost anything so the young people who are employed in households wash by hand and iron everything of course. I have never seen a man here going around in a shirt which is not ironed. Some people employ a maid and then he or she is supposed to wash not only for themselves but also for their relatives who come with bags full of dirty laundry.

 

Foreigners pay more

There are quite many foreigners who have hotels and restaurants here and many of them are considered better to work for than the locals, because they pay higher salaries and help their staff with small loans when they need money for their children’s school fees or for health care or something else.

Many people say that they cannot be organized in a union because then they will be without work since nobody wants to employ them in that case.

For us it is impossible to understand how people can survive here with the salaries which they are paid. Many young men around thirty are married and have their families at the mainland and they have to send home the money they earn so that the family can survive.

Malindi is the place at the mainland where most people who work here come from. It is a very special town because many inhabitants are Italians and the language spoken is therefore Italian. To go to Malindi from here takes five hours, first by ferry from Lamu to the mainland and then on a bumpy so called road by bus.

To Mombasa from here it takes more or less eight hours by bus and it is not cheap. It costs nearly one thousand shillings one way, which is a lot for the locals, nearly 80 Swedish crowns.

 

We will miss Arnold at home

Now we have been here for quite some time so we have learnt how this community is functioning. We go to the beach nearly every morning but before we go Arnold comes to work in the household. He is included in the rent. He is a very nice person and we like him very much and he does a good work and when we come home at lunch time he has already left.

 

Polite and friendly people

On our way through the village we meet different people whom we know and we have to say good morning to everybody – also to people we do not know – and ask them how they are today. Children also say good morning or just “jambo” which is Swahili for hallo.

At the beach we meet the people who work in two villas and normally we sit together with Paul who is a security guard at one of the villas. At lunch time we go to Peponi’s restaurant to have something to drink. Sometimes we eat there if we do not want to cook at home.

It is difficult to find a place in the world with such good food as they have in this restaurant. It is international food of highest class and the prices are quite decent. The next chapter in this blog will be about the food here in Shela.

 

 

The bull thought he was a donkey

When we go through the village we often see a bull which is black walking around. Until now he has been in company with donkeys.

I thought that he believed that he is a donkey but yesterday I saw him together with a white cow and I could hardly believe my eyes. These two animals are kept in a yard outside a small stable together with a few donkeys and when I saw them there I stopped to have a photo of them.

Both the bull and the cow were begging outside a grocery shop when I saw them yesterday and they were both fed by the owner of the shop. It was quite funny to see them but today they were locked inside but maybe they were released later on because they are used to move by themselves in the village. I will check what they are up to tomorrow.

 

 

Community house

Opposite our apartment there is a small house which belongs to the whole community. It is a house where people can watch television together for a small amount of money, a kind of people’s house. The village is small and many families do not have a television of their own so this is a good solution for them to have a common place to watch what they are interested in.

 

Easy to furnish a home without IKEA

What I find interesting here is how homes are furnished. There is no Ikea to go to so everybody buys local furniture. All homes are furnished with the same kind of furniture, made in the special Lamu style. The beds have the same size and the same kind of decorations.  The sofas are of different kinds and models and also the chairs that you use around the dinner table. The tables are of different sizes, smaller or bigger. All the material that is used by the carpenter comes from Lamu and other islands around. There are also special carpets made here at a place called Matondoni and they are made of leaves from the coconut tree. These carpets are very beautiful and some of them have bright colours and nice patterns.

 

The man is responsible for the dowry

When a young couple get married at this island the man is supposed to provide his wife with everything like a home and furniture so it is the man who is responsible for the dowry. Cars do not exist here so nobody has to buy such an expensive thing. They might choose to buy a donkey instead or if they are rich a dhow.

 

Police not needed

It is quite interesting to live in a place like Lamu and especially in Shella which is such a small village.

There is no need of having police here for example because crimes are hardly committed at all. There is some kind of social control among the inhabitants. Many problems are solved by the inhabitants themselves.

 

The cleaning of the village

I have written about the donkeys before. There are also donkeys here in Shella but not so many as in Lamu town. Here they are also used for transports and we often see a long row of donkeys walking along the beach very close to the water.

The same problem occurs here as in town, that is the dung of the donkeys, but here the community has solved the problem. Every household in the village pays a certain amount monthly for the cleaning of the small alleys and other places where donkeys move around. The cleaners performing the job are all employed by the local and compared to town it is clean here.

Of course it could happen sometimes that there is some dung in the alleys but it is quite rare. At lunch time most of the dung is taken away by the local cleaners.

People who deal with tourism here say that it is necessary to keep the village clean otherwise the tourists will not come, and this island is really worth visiting. It is a lovely and friendly place where it is easy to live, which many Europeans have realized and therefore quite a few have chosen to move to Shella and live here permanently.

 

 

 

 

 

Today we have really enjoyed and used our spacious apartment and arranged a dinner party for some of our new friends, whom we have met here at Lamu Island.  It is not so easy to know what to cook for a number of people as it has to do with what is available in our three small grocery shops here in the village of Shella. Sometimes we also take a boat trip to Lamu town to visit another grocery shop.

If one of the fishermen here has caught a lobster or a crab or a tuna fish of suitable size that could also be an option. There are also two kinds of snappers and another fish called kingfish. We have phone numbers to different fishermen from whom we can buy fresh fish. And also oysters sometimes.

 

During the week we have been looking for vegetables to use for a buffet and we have found big ripe avocados, iceberg salad, tomatoes, leek, potatoes, apples, cucumber, onions, garlic, capers, gherkins and of course ripe big mangos for 1.50 Swedish crowns each. Two avocados – very big – cost 4 Swedish crowns. They are very different from the ones I sometimes buy at the market place in Lund, much more juicy and the taste is also different since they grow here at the island at a shamba (Swahili for farm).

 

In Lamu town we usually go to a grocery shop owned by an Indian man and he has all kinds of things which we find interesting. Last week we visited this shop twice. We have bought yoghurt, black olives, saffron, vanilla, butter, cheese and many other things there.

At our local grocery shop we find Italian pasta of different kinds, avorio rice from Italy and balsamico vinegar as well as British mustard. Today Anders also found sardines in that shop. I also had a frozen lobster from last week in the freezer and our local grocery shop also sells eggs of high quality from the village. Our apartment is very well equipped with a good fridge and a freezer which is quite big and a gas stove.

 

We invited our friend Michael and his wife Grace and their children Elisabeth, Stephen and Philip. The other sister, Alice, was working so she could not come and the eldest sister, Tina, lives in Nairobi.  Another guest, Julius, whom we also invited, works with Michael but he has no family so he came by himself a little earlier than the others.

You can see photos of Grace and Elisabeth as well as Alice in this blog. There is also a photo of Michael and another one of Julius enclosed.

 

Michael, Stephen’s Father

 

Grace and Elisabeth - Mother and daughter

 

Alice who was not present at the dinner party

 

Julius, a guest at the dinner party

 

We are very lucky because in our rent there is household assistance included, which means that at nine o’clock in the morning six days per week, a young man called Arnold, opens the door with a key and goes straight to the kitchen to wash the dishes. Then he continues his work and cleans the whole place, bedrooms, bathrooms and the room at the roof top which is a living room with a view over the village and a glimpse of the Indian Ocean.

When we need something from Lamu town, like alcohol for example, Arnold also goes there by boat to buy what we ask for and need. Arnold can do anything which is needed in a normal household and he is also a very nice person, easy going.

When we told him that we were having guests he offered to work even if Sunday is his day off. We said of course that we did not want him to work on his free day but he insisted so we decided to pay him extra for his work and he came already at ten o’clock and helped us with the planning of the dinner party for eight persons.

He provided us with plates, glasses and cutlery from a hotel and went to buy soft drinks and lots of water and he laid the table upstairs and even picked beautiful flowers to put on two tables, both in the dining room and in the living room.  You can see the table in the dining room on one of the photos which I enclose.

 

Arnold, the boss of our household

 

The table in the dining room

 

I prepared several different kinds of salads, like for example one Caesar salad, one potato salad, one avocado salad with slices of lobster, tsatsiki, cooked green beans in tomato sauce and one egg salad with sardines. I had also bought ten mangos and they were ripe and juicy.

The guests ate with very good appetite and when almost all the salads were finished I asked if somebody wanted pasta since I had prepared a classic Italian tomato sauce for pasta. Many wanted pasta even if they already had eaten quite much. We also had some nice bread which we had ordered at Peponi’s where they sell bread, the same kind as they use in the restaurant. We bought baguettes and our guests ate all of them. They were really delicious.

After the meal – in which Arnold of course also participated – we sent the boys and their sister to buy some ice cream nearby and they were very pleased and ate a big box of ice cream in a greenish poisonous looking colour. The adults had coffee and some chocolate and not until it was getting dark in the evening the guests left but before that we looked at photos at our lap top, something that everybody likes to do. Cameras are expensive to buy and many families cannot afford to buy one. That is why they like others to take photos of them.

 

We decided together with the parents that the boys, Stephen and Philip 15 and 13, would come and visit us soon by themselves and that we would take them to a nice big swimming pool where they can train swimming. They are training crawl this season they say. We dare not take them to the beach because of the strong currents. Accidents have occurred here every year. There are no guards at the beach either.

 

In the blog we have written about Stephen before. He is the boy whose school fees we pay. We also pay for his school uniform, books and we give him his pocket money. He needs money so he can go to the Internet café to read and write mails and he also needs the Internet as a source of information for his school work.

Schools in Kenya are free for the first eight years, but when the pupils start to go to secondary school there are fees to pay. Also for the university the students pay something like 45-50000 KS per year (around 4000 Swedish crowns) which means paying for two semesters. For many young people in this country it is impossible to study because of the high costs.

Stephen’s sister Elisabeth still goes to the secondary school and has two years left there. The parents pay the fees for her but it is a heavy economic burden for them especially now, because Alice who is two years older than Elisabeth, has been admitted to the faculty of economics at the university of Mombasa.  Philip is only 13 so he has two years left until he will go to the secondary school. There are no school fees to be paid for him so far.

 

When the guests had left to take the boat back to Lamu the sink in the kitchen was full of plates, glasses and cutlery but that is another story. We were very pleased with the day which we had spent in nice company.

 

View from our roof terrace

 

Yellow flower on a big tree

 

Yellow flowers at the same tree

 

Flowers hanging down to give shadow over the restaurant

 

Bougainvillea