Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

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.



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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.



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.


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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.


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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.






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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





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Since the 24th of February, we have been back in Shella, which also is situated at Lamu Island.

If you look at the Internet, you will find many pictures from Shella there. Above all, you will see the web site of Peponi restaurant and some very expensive and luxurious apartments and houses, which are free for rent if you can afford it. Some of these places cost 1000 euro per day. Some very rich Europeans and Americans have houses here, of which many are empty and deserted most of the year.


Shella Village

Shella is a village, not small but not big either. I think that there are more or less one thousand permanent inhabitants here. It takes around half an hour by boat to reach this lovely place. The main road of Shella is the Waterfront where many hotels and restaurants are located, but behind Waterfront, is the village of Shella with many shops where one can buy everything from food to cloths and there are also many beautiful private houses and hotels of which many are built in Swahili style.


Shella is clean compared to Lamu town

The streets are very narrow like the streets in Lamu town, but here the streets are clean as each household in the village contributes with a monthly amount for cleaning the streets and this system seems to function very well. In Lamu town the cleaning is administrated by the council, people have explained to us. There are also fewer donkeys in Shella than in Lamu town so it is probably easier to keep this place clean. And it is a small place, a village.


Fish and seafood

Fish and seafood is sold directly by the fishermen who sell for example tuna fish, red snapper, oysters, lobster (only sometimes) and crabs. But lobster is expensive here like everywhere else. The price is 1200 Kenyan shillings per kilo, which is nearly one hundred Swedish crowns. However, I do not find it expensive at all. The oysters cost 250 per kilo, which is nearly twenty crowns and the crab costs forty to fifty. Tuna fish is cheaper – 250 -300 per kilo, which is less than thirty crowns and it, is very good. The snapper is probably cheaper. We have not tried it yet.


Where we stay  

On Saturday the 5th of March, we will have access to a flat that we have rented until April so just now we are staying in a hotel in the village. The place where we live is very nice, because it is a hotel where both Africans and people from different countries in Europe stay.

Close to the hotel is a lovely restaurant where they have very nice food, but they do not serve alcohol since the owner is a Muslim like most people here. The restaurant is in a palace from the beginning of the 20th century and outside there is a garden that is like the Garden of Eden. In a few days, I will go there and take photos of  it. All the tables of the restaurant are outside, next to the garden, where a fountain is situated in the middle.

The smells from some of the flowers is like a very expensive perfume. I do only know the name of these flowers in Swahili, not in English, but I shall try to find out as soon as I have unpacked our luggage and found the batteries of our camera.


A special garden at hotel Baitil Aman

Yesterday I visited the garden together with some of the people who work in the hotel. I was also showed around inside the hotel and the place was impressing, but not cheap. The price for a very big room with a huge balcony with a view to the garden was 100 USD per night in the middle season, which is now.

If we compare the price to prices in Europe, it is of course not expensive at all, but if you spend many months here, you must have another kind of budget so we cannot stay in such places. But for a week or two I find the price quite OK. But it is probably much more expensive during the high season, which is around Christmas and the New Year.


The environment and the beach

We are spending our days reading books and just below our small hotel apartment, where we are now, there is a big pool, which is very well looked after by a man whose task is only to look after the pool so that it is clean.

We swim sometimes in this pool, but we prefer the beach, which is one of the most wonderful beaches we have ever been to in any place in the world. There are no big waves in the sea like in many other places at the Indian Ocean, because Shella is situated at a strait between the island of Manda and Lamu Island. Wind surfers seem to like the place anyhow because there are quite a few of them.

It is difficult to find enough shadow at the beach but we usually stay under a frangipani tree, also called temple tree. That is a very beautiful tree with big white flowers, which seem to flourish all the time. I think you can find a photo of such a tree, which I took last year in Cape Town in Robert Stockli’s garden I Green Point.





Moving to an apartment

When writing this we have moved to a place of our own – an apartment in the village – situated on the first floor in a recently built house.

There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, one in each bedroom, a dining room with a huge table and a nice kitchen on the first floor. On the second floor is a roof terrace of at least 50 square meters, consisting of an open room, very big, and with a traditional roof covered with coconut leaves.

That is the living room of the apartment and it is very beautiful, as it is furnished in traditional style with comfortable furniture produced here. Especially two small sofas in dark wood are very beautiful. The third sofa is like a sofa bed and furthermore there is a hammock like a big swinging bed in which we can have our afternoon nap during the heat.

 Then there is, like in many other places, a big double bed, also produced here in traditional style. In that bed one can sleep during the night if one likes to sleep under the stars outside, like we did when we were young and traveled to places like Cairo, Istanbul and Athens.

Finally, there is a big table also produced here with chairs so we can also eat upstairs. Six people can sit around the table. From the roof we have a lovely view over Shella village. We can even have a glimpse of the sea from there.


 Inside a Swahili house

 Decoration in a Swahili home

 Decoration – Swahili style

 Anders watching the sea at the balcony


Daily service included

In the rent daily service is included and the price is quite OK according to our opinion.

A young man called Arnold works in our household 12 hours per week. He cleans, goes shopping and washes our clothes. We can decide ourselves how to use these 12 hours. You are welcome to come and join us if you feel like for a week or two. We have space enough and you won’t have to bother about the practical things of daily life. 


Close to the beach and Peponi restaurant

From the apartment to the beach it takes us less than five minutes to walk and there are many grocery shops close to the place. We do not have to go to Lamu town for shopping our daily food.

In Shella there is also a bank so if you don’t feel like it you don’t have to leave the place, but if you need to do something in town you can easily take a boat to the proper center of Lamu town. The price is very decent, like a bus ride in our town at home. The locals pay almost nothing for the transport. The prices are different for the mzungu (the white man) as we are called in Swahili.


Finally …

This was all we could tell our readers about our travel and whereabouts so far but we will be coming back and then we will probably write about food and restaurants.

Just now in these days there are celebrations going on because it is Mohammed’s birthday and this event is of great importance in this Muslim society, so many people come here from the main land and bus transports are running day and night. Some people come by ferry even from Zanzibar to participate in the celebrations.

We must, however, admit that we are quite uninterested so we continue reading our books, going to the beach and spending our time at Peponi’s as always.

Sometimes we also cook in our excellent kitchen and I have got a new friend who is called Anthony. I enclose a picture of him.


He is the chef at the Baitil Aman restaurant and he loves to try new dishes so he has got a little book from me in which I write the recipes for him and he has already tried several. I would like to give him some more dessert recipes, which fit in here to what we can find in the shops and at the market in town. Crème caramel he already knows but I was thinking of different pies and maybe some simple cakes.

If you send me some recipes I would appreciate it.  Preferably in English. Instead of deciliter you can use cups like the Swedish cups for coffee.



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Lamu town centre – inhabitants and donkeys

The town of donkeys

A proverb says:”A man without a donkey is a donkey.” And that is true in Lamu town. Many people are completely depending on the donkeys for work and they transport everything from building material to whole families on the animals.      

In Lamu town live around fifteen thousand people and more than seven thousand donkeys and all of them have an owner, even if many of them walk on their own in the small narrow alleys of the town. If you feel like being the owner of a donkey you will have to pay around 160 euro. Compare that price to what a horse costs in Europe!

There is a hospital for donkeys and there is also a place at Waterfront where the tourists move around, where the donkeys can have a rest and drink water during the hot hours in the middle of the day from twelve o’clock and onwards. The donkeys are very obedient animals and they move exactly as the owner wants them to. He talks to them with special whistling sounds. Many owners beat them if they do not obey.

Here you can see a photo of two donkeys, which walk close to the market place.



The street net and the restaurants

Along the sea there is a long street called Waterfront where many of the restaurants are situated. Most of them are Swahili restaurants with no permit to sell alcohol. However, you can get alcohol if the waiter wants to go to another restaurant to fetch a couple of beers for you, but of course he expects you to tip him then, something we can understand. Only a few places have a permit to serve alcohol and all of them seem to have European owners.

Only two of these places are possible to visit. In one of them beggars and drug addicts ask you to give them either money or medicine of different kinds. Furthermore, that place is very dirty so it is not nice to sit there.

The most elegant place in town is called “Lamu house” and they have a pool, not very big, and you can have a room there for around two hundred euro per night. They also serve international food. Some of the dishes are good like vongole served like in Italy. 

And according to our taste, the Swahili food is not always good so the option is to cook your own food according to your personal taste, which we do most of the time. We buy crabs and lobsters alive and cook them in seawater. The price is more or less seven euro per kilo. Oysters are also sold in the streets.


The Maasais

In the streets are many maasais selling leather products with small pearls in bright colours. They are dressed in special colours like red and purple and they have a stick in their hand and lots of necklaces and bracelets all over the body. Here you can see a photo of our favourite Maasai. No maasai women are visible because they are the ones who produce the products and they work from their homes.


 Our favourite Maasai.


The tailors 

In the narrow alleys there are small dark shops and workshops on both sides of the streets. Many tailors have a small shop where you can have garments made. The sewing machines are manual, not electric as in Europe. A shirt for a man costs around 3.50 euro or sometimes more to have sewed according to your measures. A dress costs 7.50 euro and a pair of shorts costs the half amount.  Anders has had two shirts made of which one is not yet ready since the tailor has been to Mombasa for at least a week and nobody knows when he is going to be back. If ever!

Yesterday – Friday the 11th of February the shirt was finally ready and it was very nice and fitted Anders well. Although the tailor had chosen quite big brown wooden buttons so we will go there again and ask him to change them to white buttons.


Shops and workshops

There are bookshops, hardware shops, shops for different ready-made cloths, both for men and women and some shops have only Muslim cloths like long shirts for men and special small hats. There are also galleries with handicraft, barbers and hairdressers, woodcarvers and workshops where local furniture in dark wood is produced. There are no supermarkets here, no malls and the grocery shop is of the same kind as it was in our childhood. They sell everything in there except alcohol, which only can be bought in special shops very far away.

In the streets it is very crowded. Many people walk there and the donkeys demand a lot of space and they can sometimes be loaded with lots of goods like building material for example. When a donkey or a caravan of donkeys are passing, people have to let them pass. All over the street there is dung from the donkeys so when you go into a house you must take off your sandals because they are probably quite dirty.

We think that this island is interesting because here the industrial revolution has never occurred so the production is still like it was in Europe long before the 19th century, based on the work of family units. Maybe that is the reason why this island has been nominated a Unesco heritage.


 One of the small alleys


Alley in Lamu town


The women

Several times I have asked different women if I may have a photo of them and so far I have not succeeded. Therefore, I have only photos, which I have taken when the women are walking along the streets.

The fashion here is interesting as many women are covered in black from head to feet while others show their faces and there are also some women who have a long black dress and then they have wrapped a piece of cloth in bright colours around their heads and finally tied some black “curtain” over the bright cloth. It looks quite strange for European people I must admit, but as far as I have understood, there are many kinds of fashion. At  home women can of course be dressed as they like as long as they are not meeting foreign men.

Most people in this island are Muslims but there are also some Christian inhabitants here who have moved from the mainland to the island and they are dressed like people in other places in the world. To show respect for Muslim customs tourists are advised to cover themselves but nobody really cares except very few.

The mzungo (white man in Swahili, plural wazungo) does not fit in whatever he/she is wearing. So why care?


The mosques and the religion

In our guidebook we have read that there are more than twenty mosques in this small town and I am sure it is true. The imams are very busy here especially on Fridays. Sometimes we are woken in the morning at five because of the loud announcement from the mosque urging people to pray. Then it continues through the day until it is time to go to bed. I have never liked it and in some countries it is worse than here.

On Fridays they show religious programs at the market place on a big screen and prophets of different kinds are preaching in a demagogic way. The program is announced through loud speakers so that people know when the events will take place. Many Muslim children have to wake up at five in the morning to pray before they go to school.


Almond square

A few footsteps from Subira house where we live is the market place. In the middle of the square are two enormous almond trees giving the impression of being very old. They are very beautiful and you can see them on this picture below.



Donkey at the square


Around the trees there are benches where people are having a rest or just enjoying each other’s company. The benches are always full of people, mostly men, which you can imagine since we are in a Muslim society.

Behind the trees is the house of culture in the old fort, built in the 18th century to avoid enemies to invade the island. In this building there is also a public library where you have to pay a small amount of money to get books. It is not expensive so everybody can afford to go there.

On the other side of the square you find a covered building where vegetables, fruits, meat and fish are sold. If you want to become a vegetarian, I would advise you to visit the meat market. I have never seen so many flies in a place at the same time before and after my first and only visit to that market I have not touched meat. We only eat fish, seafood and vegetables and fruit nowadays.

Some people also sell their products outside at the square. They are keeping poultry in small cages and if you feel like eating a chicken you have to have it killed at the very spot where you buy it. I am not sure I would like to have one, but unfortunately that would be the only option you have.


Friday the 11th of February

However, today we have been to” Lamu House” and there we had lunch and it was lovely food. I had Italian “vongole” and Anders had “Tikka masala chicken” and we also had some wine and when we came home somebody had bought two lobsters for us from a fisherman and I cooked them in seawater and tomorrow we are going to have them for lunch.

Altogether I paid more or less one hundred Swedish crowns for the lobsters and that is considered very expensive here, but I found it quite reasonable because we sometimes have lobster also in Sweden for example at New Years Eve and the ones we buy are from the US and they are much more expensive than these which we can buy here.

Now when it is the 12th of February we will stay where we are for another week but after that we are going to Shela, which is the beach. When we are there, we will also be going to the island of Manda which is opposite Shela but that will be another story.

And this is all we can tell you about Lamu town and Lamu Island and the events that take place here in the month of February 2011.


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