One thing we had been talking about since the beginning of our trip was ending our international travel at the Kenyan coast. Kim had just the beach in mind and we headed out on a bumpy night bus to Mombasa. From there we drove south and ended up at the Warandale Cottages on Diani Beach. After getting settled we ventured out the beach and quickly realized why it is low season. The rain started lightly and we decided to walk down the beach anyway. After 15 minutes the real down pour started and we were in for a wet walk back. One of the good things about the rain was that it kept most of the beach boys away, but not all. One of the questions asked before going to a Kenyan beach is, “How bad are the beach boys?” We didn’t quite understand what that meant until we experienced it for ourselves. The Diani Beach boys are pretty bad, although we haven’t experienced other beaches to which we can compare.
The beach boys are men who prey on tourists selling an assortment of trinkets or trips out for snorkeling, fishing, or swimming with dolphins. An encounter with a beach boy usually starts with them zeroing in on you from a distance and then joining your walk down the beach whether you like it or not. They usually start with a friendly greeting, the questions of where are you from and how are you enjoying your holiday and move into their sales pitch which usually involves some sort of guilt tactic. They would tell you they hadn’t eaten in a long time, they have a family, or just say “can’t you support a brother?” We tried many different approaches to kindly decline their offers as they all were selling the same things, none of which we wanted. We felt sympathetic as we know Kenya unemployment rate is quite high. As we talked with people who worked at our resort we learned that there is work the beach boys can do but they prefer the easy road of selling on the beach. Of all of the places we have traveled this year these sellers were the most aggressive and persistent. As we got to know a few of them that were tolerable, we tried giving some basic business advice and suggestions on different things to sell. John even got one of them to make him an authentic Kenyan ball made from plastic bags and banana leaves which he would kick around with the beach boys.
Despite being hassled by the beach boys there were a lot of really good things to mention about the coastline. One of our favorite parts about the beach was having a personal cook, Ali, who was included with the cottage. Ali shopped, cooked, and cleaned for us every day. Excluding breakfast and one dinner we ate seafood the entire time. Yes, even Erin ate and enjoyed the seafood. We dined on red snapper, white snapper, crab, squid (not our favorite), tuna, and prawns all fresh from the sea daily. We had many opportunities to talk with Ali and had a good time getting to know him–he gave us some good advice on the beach boys too.
The weather was beautiful the remainder of our time and we spent our days either by the pool, at the table eating, watching the monkeys play (and try to steal our stuff), or walking on the beach. We also went on a sailing trip, or least that is what we called it. It was actually two floating mattresses and a sarong which acted as our sail. As we passed by people we got many stares and responses like, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” We successfully sailed about a mile and half down the beach and then had to walk back on the sand against the fiercely blowing wind.
These five days were a great final “holiday” before we start coming back to the reality that we are leaving for the US on Sunday.