Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tiwi Villa's - Mombassa

My first 2 nights in Mombassa were spent at Tiwi Villa on the South coast of Mombassa where some friends of ours have a place. This is not a commercial property but rather private homes. They had hooked up some extra space for us through friends of theirs who live there as well. But before I get started let me tell you how elated I was to land in Mombassa Airport at about 9 pm and find my mate Ro there to receive me. He had also flown into Kenya just for the occasion. On the bus he presented me with a premixed JD coke that we savored on the 1 hour ride to the villa. This was the perfect way to kick off a vacation. Just check out those smiles boyz. That is pure unadulterated joy.

Tiwi is a complex of about 15-20 unique homes in a lush tropical setting. I believe some of the plots were developed as self contained villas for rental purposes while other larger plots are homes that families retreat to during their vacations. I noticed some larger homes that residents have retired to on a full time basis. From the 3rd floor balcony of the villa I was in you can get some idea of how dense the complex was in vegetation and how clandestine each villa was even though they shared this complex.

We spent most of the time here chilling on the lanai, taking in the fresh air and cool evening breeze. The weather was warm during the day and cold at night so a ceiling fan was more than enough to keep me comfortable. There was also this plunge pool on the lanai that we kept hopping in and out of to grab ice cold beers. The sun was hot enough to burn and tan your skin in direct but it was as if the temperature dropped 20 degrees as soon as you step into the shade.

The finishing and furnishings of the bungalows may not have been as crisp and cut as many of the places I have stayed at in Bali, but it was still way better than some of the others I have been to. That is a lot to say for East Africa. I only managed to see a few of the places in Mombassa so I can only imagine what the rest have to offer. The Africa I know (West) is so far behind what Kenya had to offer. And this was only my impression on the first day. The décor of the houses was also quite simple but to me that just extenuated the African appeal.

As I mentioned before, the grounds of the complex was flourishing with plant life. There were also numerous monkeys wandering around during the day time. They seem quite harmless but my uncle once told me after a large sip of whiskey and a long pause, ‘monkey will NEVER stop jumping’… So heading his inebriated warning I kept my windows and doors closed whenever I was out. And the advice paid off as I later learned that some people’s goodies had been nabbed by the little bastards. As we were leaving and one of my nephews wandering around alone I could have sworn I saw the monkeys making signals to one another planning abduction. I can just picture Arryan, Nesta, and Zubin hanging out with King Louise in the monkey kingdom singing and dancing and I come in like Baloo the bear to save them… So, these paths meander through the area and it is easy to get lost if you have no sense of direction, like me. Also at night it gets really dark and the canopy does not allow much light in so you do need a torch to find your way around. I was ill prepared as usual and spent most nights walking back to my villa in a crouch position with both hands waving around in front of me. The fact that I was tipsy did not really help the situation. And to be honest I was really freaked out when I heard animals in the dark.

There were some other cool features in the area like this wooden bridge over a pond. I spotted a green snake on the path here and I tried to give the sucker a good chase down but my stamina is not what it used to be. And I realized how uncool it would be to get bitten by a snake on the very first day and fuck up everyone’s vacation.

Heading down the path towards the ocean, the complex houses a communal swimming pool. The water in the pools here was quite cold, but this is because Mombassa was just coming out of winter. And even though the sun would heat up during the day the nights were still quite chilly. And although I never really saw any attendants milling around the swimming pool and the area around the whole complex was very clean. This absence of personnel gives one the sensation of being in a truly secluded location. I quite enjoyed the whole rustic feel about it.

Just a few short steps from the pool and you will find you’re self on one of the most pristine beaches I have seen in my life. And this blog is a testament to how many beaches I have been to, not mention all the years spent on Hawaii. In fact not since Bellows Beach on Oahu have I been to a beautiful secluded beach like this with fir trees on the shore line. I love to chill in the cool shade of the fir trees and look out on the ocean. Most of the beaches I have been to in Asia only have palm or coconut trees on the coast.

The water was quite cool and scattered with sea grass but it was still so clear and refreshing. You can see that the waves break about 100 yards out at the reef. Apparently most beaches in Mombassa are lined by reefs making the swimming very safe and enjoyable. The tide moves in and out by about 50 feet in a single day which makes for very fascinating nature walks when it pulls back and leaves the corals uncovered for a few hours.

The beaches in Mombassa are extremely windy and ideal for kite surfing. I have never tried it before but I do wakeboard and have been waiting for the opportunity to try the kite. My cousin Achi who came down from Spain brought his 3 meter kite with him. The actual width of the kite for surfing is about 12 meters so this unit does not give much lift but it is the way to go when starting kite surfing, to get some idea of the power and control involved. He had the whole control thing down and took some time out to show me the ropes. It is not as easy at looks but once you get a hang of it you can move around with the kite and get used to cutting figure eights that you need to keep momentum going once you are on the water. It was also practical working the kite on this beach because when it goes down, it goes down hard and this beach is so secluded that there were no possibilities of civilian casualties.

Kicking of my trip at Tiwi was surreal and I am so grateful to the people who made it possible for me to be there and the friends that made the experience as much fun as it was. Spending those days in the wilderness reconnecting with family after such a long time was more than any guy could ask for, especially after spending 3 months alone here in China. Hour after hour friends and family kept arriving keeping my emotions permanently tweaked. I slept on a comfortable bed in a room with windows opened wide (but not wide enough for monkeys to get in), surrounded by trees, birds, insects, and animals. And there is nothing better than that when you have spent the last 30 hours cooped up in pressurized airplanes and compact hotel rooms.


IndCoup said...

welcome back dude! You are one lucky bastard to have been lounging around in the sun like that!!


surri said...

sounds like a great trip. Inny was saying the beach was awesome. Let us know some more when u get back.