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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: one girl's quest to see the world

Fort Jesus, the Old Town, and the sweltering heat

KENYA | Sunday, 20 December 2009 | Views [1654]

Let me tell you: a bed is a magnificent thing.  A bed with a fan after a long, luxurious shower? Even better.  Despite fears I might not fall asleep, I had no such problems last night.  I slept a solid 8 hours with no interruptions and awoke feeling grand.  I took another shower this morning just to revel in the moment of total cleanliness then gathered my things and headed down to breakfast on the veranda of my hotel.  

Ian and I had made tentative plans to meet up "this morning" though no time had been set.  After an hour or so of journaling (and arranging a bus to Tanga tomorrow) I decided to track him down.  So off I went to find the Lotus Hotel.  He was checking out just as I arrived and we set out for Fort Jesus, a fort built by the Portuguese in 1593 and subsequently ransacked and rebuilt multiple times by multiple countries.  Now it's just roped-off ruins, though that doesn't stop the locals from charging 800 Kenyan Shillings ($12 give or take) for entrance to "non-residents". I'd like to think the fees are going to restoration of the fort, but it doesn't appear like much restoration is going on.

The Fort was definitely a good stop, and I got quite a few pictures, but the sweltering heat was getting to us and we decided to head out after about an hour.  We then wandered through the old town, a bit of a byzantine tangle of streets with narrow alleys and no signs (not unlike Fez).  One thing that continued to surprise me: though much of Mombasa is Muslim (the Swahilis are descendants of Arab/African marriages) many businesses are open Fridays but closed Sundays.  As today is Sunday... well the old town was a bit quieter than usual I suppose.  

At this point Ian said goodbye and headed to the train station.  He is taking the overnight train back to Nairobi tonight, since he has to meet up with students on Tuesday.  We never did track down our Swiss backpacker friends so the afternoon was on my own.  Given the heat (it was over 100 with the heat index today) and our busy morning I opted for a quiet afternoon of photo editing, journaling, and water-guzzling back under the fans of the hotel veranda.  

I am pleased to announce that my SPF 70 held up quite admirably in the direct sunlight today, as did my Deet 40 bug repellent (only one mosquito bite so far).  Unfortunately I also learned that Deet 40 is a useful alternative to nail polish remover and thus my modest splurge of a manicure back in Boston has already met its end.  

In any case, I'm off to track down some dinner and repack my things tonight since I have to head to the bus station at 6am tomorrow. First it's 4 hours to Tanga (across the Tanzanian border), then a flight to Pemba (just 20 minutes!) and another flight to the island of Zanzibar.  I'll be there for three nights.  Here's hoping the bus ride isn't as miserable as those I took in Central America...

Until next time, my friends!

Tags: hot hot hot, kenya, mombasa, swahili, travel friends

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