It’s a wall to wall mirror that’s propped over the sink directly opposite the bath tub. My vanity demons are most satiated. Today, I will disrobe much slower than a turtle and watch me. As water fills the tub with lukewarm water, I go back to the room to retrieve my candles from my Ogake bag and an extra pillow. The tub is ¾ full, I pour body wash in, prop the pillow on the end opposite the closed taps, light my candles and settle inside. I close my eyes and think of Usher Raymond. :-). He is shirtless. As I turn to my stomach, my bum juts out of the water surface and happily points to the roof. My head lies sideways on the pillow barely massed in water. The glass door to the balcony is ajar and the palm trees outside are moaning at the wind’s strength. I can hear the ocean from the tub. I start to doze. I had no inkling that I’d start off the weekend smelling sea salt and India because that’s where the waters are from eventually, no?
It’s Friday night.
I am at Turtle Bay Beach Club in Watamu.
Let me start form the A.
My long time acquaintance and former colleague, John, who works for an environmental body, is a pilot who flies a P68C TC, 6 sitter plane. It is Partenavia model from Italy ergo it has a long nose and is best for observation, aerial video recording and has a great climb rate. He’s always told me I can catch a lift if we happen to head the same direction. He called me once as he was heading to Turkana then to Tsavo. I was away. Only one time did he drop a friend and I in Nakuru airstrip which has a murram runway. Oh, define terror! My friend literally fell as she deplaned and I just sat there legs shaking like I was in a kamba musical.
John is one of the handful cool folk I know in this our city. So Monday as June faded at 6 pm he calls me, “Wabui, Naeda Malidi weekend.” I smile on the other side of the line. I like Nyeri folk.
“I’ll confirm to you by Thursday.” I say toying with the idea of Watamu.
Now folks, I have been dying to go to Turtle Bay Beach Club for a while now and I will tell you my secret reason why.
If you’ve been to Watamu, there are several coral stones that jet out of the ocean. The one directly opposite Turtle Bay resembles what those alien spaceship UFOs are speculated to look like. (It features in Maia’s incredible song, Jellyfish). So, what if folks, the Bermuda triangle alien theories have links hapa hapa tu? Later Friday night, alienated (oh pun, bliss) from all hassle, I shall sip on some coffee liquor by the ocean on a pagoda and stare at the jutting coral for an hour. I’m sad to report no interspaces communication was witnessed that night.
You see the old UFO in the sea past the untouched pool, no?
I digressed a tad. Wednesday in a restaurant in Kerugoya, I called Sabine Pruess, of this family gem tucked 600kms away from Nairobi and she said, Kujeni! I started packing Thursday evening. Halfway through, I remembered something I had seen on Instagram that I can no longer travel without. I called, Ogake of Ogake Accessories who makes these ‘I-would-sell-my-finger-for-one’ bags that I absolutely had to have. She said, Kujia. My stars were lining up. It being July, birthday month had to play nice.
Friday, mid morning 30 minutes after scheduled take off time, I was still in Hurlingham at the quite lovely Ogake’s, gaping my jaw at the incredulously gorgeous pieces that I just wanted to grab and run out with. I almost did, until Ogake’s friend spoke to me in French and since this particular task uses up 75% of my brain power, I was rendered moot for thieving.
I approached the sexy P68C TC at noon with nostalgia. It had been a while and I was swept with a jolt of gratuitous desire to fling myself at her and apologize for making her wait. Like you would to a broad shouldered man. But John, the pilot, was busy putting my bags behind the co-pilot’s seat and urging me to hurry and get settled. I belted myself on the co-pilot’s seat on the right, plugged in the headphones, checked on the right engine first, then the left, slightly shifted the throttle and mixture sticks to halfway and pressed the starter. (I started lying after headphones). The bird growled to life; consistent and strong like 5 tractor engines and magnetic like an aphrodisiac. We sashayed to the runway. No, the plane really did sashay.
We were cleared for takeoff. Mixture and throttle sticks went up full way first for the right then for the left engine and they sang way louder than a drunkard sings circumcision songs. In fact that drunkard would sober up from the sound of a P68’s engine. She thrust herself forward like a wanton lover to the end of the runway, Propeller went up and so did the nose of the plane. And up we went to Machakos, Tsavo and ultimately Malindi.
This Ogake Bag had to ride next to me.
Malindi airport is the size of two big Nairobi style mansions. We make our way outside quickly and into a cab to Watamu. Turtle Bay Beach Club doors opened and cocktails are served. At the reception, Joseph Kaunda, a most amiable head Patron Turtle Bay recognizes my voice and is overly charming as he checks us in. A charming Sabine, on whose invite we ride, comes to chat briefly before we both disappear to our rooms.
I’m hungry and I go to the beach club, get myself a burger and set myself on a pagoda as I watch the waters from India bob a boat side to side just like their heads do when they mean yes and no.
Evening approaches fast when vacationing, so naturally I breathed in and out and it‘s already Saturday. I wake up early for a jog along the beach. Turtle Bay has a beach front that opens to a 10km stretch overlooking the skies that kisses water as the dull sun watches.
The diving instructor is cleaning scuba diving suits. It is grey out in the ocean and so dolphins and turtles have done a ‘finding nemo’. “Not as exciting as it gets as August warms up” he informs me. So I pout like any adult would and walk to the dining area which is a semi circle about the main swimming pool with an illicitly beautiful view of the dark blue of the ocean.
As we wait for pancakes to be made by John’s namesake a chef whose culinary skills border Martha Stewart’s, John throws an idea casually, “Tukiboeka tuede Lamu.” I’m already bored. I don’t even want breakfast.
By noon, we are airborne headed to Lamu. The splendor of flying low along a coastline is unmatched. There are a few things more stupendous. I believe they are Victoria and Niagra falls (Anyone else discerning my obsession with water?) I feel like Robinson Crusoe in his adventures, only not in a ship but in a plane.
As we pass the Tana, John does this thing. He tells me to take charge of the control column of the P68 which essentially is its steering wheel and hands me the GPS tracker. I feel like a kid in a brand new car. Through the headphones he tells me to veer off course a little towards mainland so I peek on the Tana as it pisses in to the ocean. I turn the column slightly to the left on a wing and a prayer and the P68 glides to mainland. The cajones, the badassery, the balls. I feel more badass than Samuel L Jackson reciting Ezekiel 25:17. Pulp Fiction anyone?
Manda Airport’s runway is the straight white line left upper left side and Lamu town is the white patch across the water on the right.
John letting me play pilot and I swear he’d released the control column until he saw me whip out my phone to take a picture.
You get to land in Lamu at Manda airport which resembles a bungalow. This place get’s less action than a eunuch. A guide called Salim meets us as we deplane and attaches himself to us like fungus. He’s unshakeable. We all walk to the pier, take a boat to the mainland and dock straight opposite the Museum. From outside it looks tinier than my house, and my house is tiny folks. Surprisingly, inside it’s the size of about 7 Javas. I get bored quickly and walk out to another Salim who tries to indulge me in a donkey ride the size of a small goat. I push him over the quay into the rocky ocean. (I’m making this up). He calls out to a female dog as he hits the water (I’m also making this up).
It is Ramadan and so I’m instructed by the governing machinations in my head to tie a leso over my slightly above knee dress. I had anticipated this so I remove one from my bag and hither to their wishes and we start the walk around town. In about 30 minutes flat, we are done with the whole of lamu town and are edging towards Shela Island. There’s no food on the whole island until 6pm and I am not equipped well for fasting. Ignore the large thighs; they’re only useful for buoyancy. Our only chance is the floating bar that has drifted towards Shela Island but it looks further than the airport. We opt for airport.
The next morning, after a swim, a hefty breakfast with the fatherly Chef John, I pack my candles back from the bathroom and take a few minutes at the Weavers Nest sipping on some cocktail as I wait for John to check out. I suspect he is too tired from letting me play pretend flying, he has to catch extra winks. I go to the gate and I meet this tuk tuk guy speaking fluent german to a tourist. He tells me he speaks French too and I’m bought for a song. We will take his tuk tuk to the airport. It’s loud, drizzling, warm and I do not want to go back home. I want to stay in Turtle Bay and wait for that alien sign from the interspaces. For serenity to find me with such ease as the understated marriage proposals and randy euphemisms from the beach boys. I want to lie on the beach like a dugong in the sand and watch the mercurial July sun go to Miami. I want to let slide catcalls from the tuk tuk folk outside Kalahari club who made me laugh until tears came to my eyes when one said, “Mwache huyo habebeki. Huwa ana kifafa huyo.”