Mombasa is a beautiful place, but the culture here has a much different vibe than Nairobi or Masai Mara. The hotel is very big, but the number of people there is surprisingly low, and out of those people, quite a few sat alone. Despite the people selling souvenirs on the beach, the place was practically empty. Staff members far outweighed the patrons. For every guest, it seemed like their were four staff, just waiting for someone to invite to an event.
One of those staff, named Bakari, looked like he was about 17 years old. Bakari invited us to challenge him in a game of table tennis and go to the butterfly exhibit the day before. Today, his boyish smile came across his face as he urged…
Come to water aerobics at 11!
To be honest, we had nothing else to do, so John and a few others did a fun workout to rave music for half an hour. Later, we saw Bakari cheer on his teammates in water polo. When we would cross paths, Bakari challenged us to play him again in table tennis. His popularity outweighed his commitments, which gave John and I time to rest!
The food was amazing. Seafood often served as the main course, but various dished were mostly inspired by Indian and English culture, like curry, bananas covered in coconut, marsala, and lamb.
The next morning after breakfast, we walked on the beach. It was low tide, and there was plenty of sand to walk on. As we walked, we had to watch out for seashells, sand crabs, and sponges that were washed up onto shore. Throughout our walk, I ekt like a target as a stream of men trying to sell us small wooden keychains and beaded bracelets were a constant. Our conversations looked something like this:
“What do you think of this? I could carve your name in it.”
“Ah, no thanks.”
“Or, I could put her name on it. What is your name?”
“Nicole, but we’re not interested. Thanks anyway.”
“What about for a family member?”
“Come on. Help a brother out. You have extra clothing you could give me to exchange?”
After walking off the beach and back to the hotel, we talked about how persistent the guys in blue shirts people were. I asked John,
“why do they stay here and sell the same things, especially since the hotel tells everyone not to buy anything from them?”
Security guards roamed the banks to keep sellers from coming up to the hotel. The sellers pleaded with us with tears in their eyes to buy one small item. Yet, what they were selling was nothing we actually needed. Plus, we would be enabling them plead, beg, and become desperate.
Their persistence is admirable, but as our time in Mombasa came to an end, we were ready to go back to Nairobi. As hospital and friendly Bakari was, most of the people looked sad. I missed the people in Ongata Rongai.