Posts Tagged ‘Lamu’

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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For a couple of days we have had a young man of 14 visiting us in the morning. He wants to watch the map of Africa and now we have been working with the countries in eastern Africa, talking about which European countries whose rule they have been under, what language they speak in the country and the name of some major towns.

We have printed a map of Africa in the Cyber space café and from now on we have been working with Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. Among these countries English is the main language only in Kenya and Tanzania because the other countries have all a very different colonial history.

Yesterday it was Saturday and Stephen did not go to school so he was here with us and we have been talking about the countries of northern Africa, Egypt, Lybia, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. We have spoken about the leader Mohammed Khadaffi and the way he rules his country.

Stephen has been to the library to find out what it costs to get books from there. At school there are very few books. And few teachers as well due to the low salaries probably. The first time we met the boy we helped him to get an e-mail address so he can write to us about his studies. We are going to pay the money for the school fees, books and uniform and we have already given his father money for the first three months at school. All together it will cost us a little more than two thousand crowns per year to support this boy.

Yesterday he read Jules Vernes – “Around the world in eighty days” – a book he really liked. The version was written for children so it was a book of only 50 pages. But he said that he would have preferred to read the real version of the book so now we will try to find good books for him when we are coming back home. He likes very much to read.



Today – Saturday –  Stephen is sitting at our table here writing a little story about a day at school and soon he will hand it over to me so I can publish  it here on the blog. Stephen’s father is working as a chef in Subira house and all together there are five children in his family.

The salaries are very low in Kenya so it is not easy for a family to pay the school fees for five. In this case it is only four children because the eldest girl does not want to study. She prefers getting married. She was born in 1990.  Although there are four left and the two eldest are girls and they have applied to go to the university in Mombasa.

This family is a Christian family so they go to church every Sunday. Stephen’s mother, Grace, has no work outside her home so she tries to earn some money at home, where she has a little grocery shop in one of the rooms. Furthermore she has poultry and before she also had some goats. Stephen’s younger brother is called Philip and he is the youngest child in the family, born in 1998. The father earns less than 1500 Swedish crowns and I can tell you that it is almost impossible to survive on such a salary.


This is the story that Stephen has written on Saturday the 29th of January 2011:

A day at school

My mother usually wakes me up early in the morning at six o´clock to prepare my self for school.First I visit the frog´s kingdom to brush my teeth and take a bath. No sooner had I finished brushing my teeth that I take my finger licking meal that my mother had prepared for breakfast. Then my mother gives me small amount of pocketmoney which I use it to buy some snacks that are sold in our school. My school is not too far so I use about ten minutes to reach at school. At school we first use fifteen minutes for sweeping the compound. When we finish cleaning a bell is rung for the first lesson wich is mathematics. A lesson usually takes thirty five minutes. After the recommended minutes has elaps a bell is rung for the next lesson which is English then Kiswahili. After the three lessons a bell is rung for break which takes twenty minutes. We usually do our assembly on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,  which depends on how long the headmaster will talk because the headmaster might have a lot of words to say.

After break we enter in for next lesson which is science then school studies. At twelve oclock we go for lunch which takes one hour. Then at two come back for the afternoon section. At afternoon we have two breaks, which the first one we call the short game which takes fifteen minutes then at five o´clock in the evening a bell is rung for going home. Before going home first we do small assembly to remind the nursery kids to come early tomorrow, and then we leave for home.”

I am writing it exactly as Stephan has written the original with the errors but I think that even with some errors this writing shows that Stephen is a very bright young man of 15 and that he is a very good student with ambitions for his future and it will be a pleasure for us to support him through the school and hopefully also at the university. English is a second language for Stephen since Swahili is his first language.

Now we are looking for sponsors for his two sisters and his younger brother, Philip, who will be 13 this year.
In the blog you will find a photo of Stephen when he was reading Jules Vernes in our living room in Subira house.

Please feel welcome to sponsor a child from this very nice and hard working family.



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En vecka i Shela


Här kommer en hälsning från Gunilla och Anders.

En liten misslycka hände kvällen innan deras utflykt på en vecka till Shela. Bilden som ni ser nedan kom fram, men texten inte. Sånt händer ibland.

Nu kan ingen text skickas, för uppkopplingen till Internet på Internetcaféet i Shela är uselt och har dessutom minutpris.

Så här skrev Gunilla på söndagen:
”Imorgon ska vi till den vita sandstranden Shela i en vecka så vi åker från Lamu stad och det tar uppemot en halvtimme med båt till Shela. Vi ska bo precis vid stranden och vi glädjer oss.”

Och om vädret:
”Här är riktigt hett och idag har det varit förfärligt uppemot fyrtio grader.”


Greetings from Gunilla and Anders. They are staying in Shela for a week.

Web Master Elsi


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Lamu Town, Subira House 17th January 2011 

Today is a normal day. Everything is open as for example the market. This morning two ladies appeared at our breakfast table. They were trying to sell henna tattoos. They did not appear at the right time of the day as I want to have my breakfast in peace without having to decide whether to buy something or not. 

The weather is the same every day with temperatures between 35-40 degrees Celsius, which is quite hot for us. So far we have been in Subira House for a week and we have not yet been to the beach. We are in no hurry. The disadvantage with living in Lamu town is the flies. There are lots of them the whole day outside and inside. I guess that the reason is the donkeys which do attract flies. Where animals are also flies appear. It is the same in all countries.

We spend our days walking in town, visiting a few places having coffee, beer and food. One of these places is called Palace hotel and it is situated right at the waterfront with a view to the sea. Many restaurants here have Muslim owners and therefore they do not serve any kind of alcohol, but in some places they provide it anyhow if you ask for it.

I enclose a few pictures which I took when we were sitting at the veranda of Palace hotel. One of the waiters is a Maasai and you can see how beautifully he is dressed at the picture. He is also a very nice guy. Before taking pictures of people one must ask them for their permission. The boats are sailing to different places with tourists who go fishing and diving. Some of them go to swim at Shela beach, which seems to be the most luxurious and expensive place in the island of Lamu.

Now I am closing my letter box for this time as we are going to sit at the waterfront to avoid the flies which I cannot accept having on me and around me all over the body, but we have to blame the donkeys. It is their fault.


One of the waiters at the hotel is a Maasai and dressed in a traditional way.


These images are taken when we were sitting having a beer at
a hotel called Palace. They are from Waterfront, which is a
meeting place at Lamu where many people come. The
motives show daily life and people passing outside the hotel.




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Going shopping

This morning I felt like going to a shop to have a look at fabrics, so a young lady offered me to accompany me to a certain shop to avoid me having to pay double prices.

Off we went in the hot morning sun and when we came into the dark shop in an alley, it was full of clients, women dressed in different kind of veils both in black and different bright colours. Many Muslim women are more interested in fashion than Christian women and they are keen on being dressed in a beautiful manner according to their own fashion and taste.

There are many different ways to wear the veil – something I noticed in the shop. In that shop they had a lot of material in beautiful bright colours of different quality, also silk. It was really impressing. Finally I bought two different fabrics, meant for kangas but I am going to use it to have a dress made by a tailor. I will – later on – when the dress is ready make a photo of me in it. It is going to be a long dress.

In this shop there were also pearls of different kinds, probably in glass. They were meant to be decoration on the veils and clothes and they were really beautiful.

When we were ready to pay the shop assistant asked whether the material was meant for “that mama” that seemed to be me and my young friend said that I only paid it and that the material was meant for her. So the price was then different, i.e. lower. She told the man that she borrowed money from me until she would get her monthly salary. Elderly people are called mama and papa in many African countries like here as well. We are used to that since last year.

Outside the shop, in the narrow alley, there were lots of donkeys on the street so we had to make ourselves very thin and stop at the pavement. One man had his two small children in front of him on the donkey. All three of them were riding. The donkeys seem to be very obedient to their owners who command them in a low but determined voice and with different sounds. I have read somewhere that there are more than seven thousand donkeys in this town but each of them has got an owner so they are not abandoned at all.


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