A few images stuck in my mind...
Paddling alone at sunset in a dugout canoe on a saltwater lake...no wind, not a wrinkle on the water, red and orange reflections, making my way back to our candle-lit wooden sail boat on which we are all staying for the night.
A man is sitting in the gutter on side of the road covered in plastic bags from head to toe, all day and all night long, whether under the storming rain or during the hottest hours of the day.
Sitting by a small harbour, a local fisherman explains to us that the boat in front of us has recently been seized by kenyan authorities from a group of Somali Pirates who’s motor had broken down 4km from the coast.
Paddling out into a lake and meeting Soule, a 25year old local fisherman sitting in his dugout canoe, a fishing line in one hand, spliff in the other and a homemade mobile soundsystem playing sweet reggae beats.
Sitting in the back of Paul’s motorbike, going down a dust track towards the sea, two colourfully dressed ladies walk passed, one of them with an axe balancing on her head.
A bunch of kids playing soccer in the dust under a baobab tree, not far from ‘Wu-Tang street’!
We’re sitting in a bus at sunrise finally reaching South West Uganda, driving above the clouds. It’s the mistiest of all mornings... The clouds of fog have filled the valleys, leaving just the top of the green hills between the crater lakes to stick out like islands
- Getting lost in the maze of little pathways of a small market in Kilifi, a man is ironing some
clothes...the iron is filled with burning hot red coals...
- A tiny muslim boy dressed in a long white tunic and white hat runs out of the huge door of a mosque as
Paul and I drive past, and seeing us, two Mzungus (white guys) on motorbikes, runs back inside
faster than he came out!
In Kalifi, it is night time, most have gone to sleep. Listening to some sort of crazy Romanian ambient
trip-hop music carefully selected by Paul, three candles on a wooden table, a deck of cards, piles of
journals from the 1950’s, and gathered around a Massai is eating Mirra, Paul is reading and I am
writing this, all contemplating this weird and delicious atmosphere in this old run-down window-free
In Uganda, sitting in a rapid of the Nile on a submerged rock eating an apple.
We head off on motorbikes to explore the region of Kilifi. Just a few meters from the beach, a sandy road carries you through a land of quarries. At first, the limestone is extracted with big machinery. White rectangles the size of soccer fields are surrounding you. The further you go, the machines disappear and instead there is a man standing with an axe in hand, hammering it into the ground, slowly shaping a big white brick. Here, if you cannot afford machinery to cut bricks, you use an axe. If you are a fisherman and cannot afford a motorboat, you use a dugout canoe, and if you can not afford a net, you use a fishing line. If you can not afford a taxi or a bycicle, then you walk. If you can not afford to stay and live according to your culture in your Massai homeland with your family, then you become an Askari (security guard) in a hotel or Mzungu’s house. If you have nothing, you eat ugali and only ugali (white maize flour mixed with water). If you’re a lost kid on the beach with not even a coin to buy maize flour for ugali, then you steal corn, eat grasshoppers, and collect some sort of spinach on the roadside. If you are deaf and mute, and a lost kid on the beach, then life sucks. But some village friends might take you under their wing to visit some Mzungus in their run down beach shack.
It’s 6AM, the sun is not up yet. We meet Soule, 25, who has just come back from a long night of fishing. He hopes to get a thousand shillings for his fish. He doesn’t have a phone anymore because there was a long period recently with only very little fish to be caught and so he had to sell his phone to afford food for his wife and daughter. He dreams of a motorboat, because his canoe cannot bring him across the waves of the barrier reef behind which the bigger fish can be found. His night begins at 11pm everyday. When at sea, if it rains, he just pulls over a plastic cover over his head and smokes joints until the rain stops.
Some funny times
A Massai explains to us that he doesn’t eat fish “because fish is snake, because it has no legs”!
Megz goes to the bar of the hotel:
-‘Hi, what would you like?’
-‘Gin and Tonic please’
-‘What are you asking me? Do you want to know if Gin and Tonic are staying here?
Do you want to know what room they are staying in??’
As I am walking out of the ocean after a little swim, I find a man walking down the beach holding a big orange shell on his ear and he is singing to the shell’s music. Back at our little shack, I tell Paul about this funny character and soon enough I find Paul listening to the shell and the man listening to Paul’s Ipod.
A guy insists trying to convince me that he is 19 years old and his parents died in 1961.
Lost in the small coastal mud house village of Takaungu, a woman walks past us with a big log on her head. Tom says “Nice log!!” and she (and I) burst out laughing!
Tonight a Massai’s eyeballs will not get bitten by mosquitoes... Paul is trying to explain to a Massai how to put mosquito repellent on his skin. The man not speaking a word of english, Paul attempts some kind of sign language saying “DO NOT RUB ON YOUR EYES” and points at his eyes. So Massai says ‘ok ok!!!’ and starts rubbing huge amounts of it all over his face and eyes!