I don't know about you, but before travelling I make proper plans. My ultimate goal is to have a worthwhile trip. I plan so that all the experiences I am looking forward to can be achieved. I am not the guy interested in the size of the room or whether the mattress is medium or high density. I am adventurous and more interested in sceneries, service, peace and nature. This has to be promised before I subscribe to any travel plan.
It is the first week of February, 2016. I’m already exhausted and want a break. This for me has to be a holiday (otherwise what else would I be doing?). So I sit down to think and remember I haven't been loyal to the coast of Kenya. June 2014 was the last time I was there.
There is need to make peace with the ocean before it decides to send a tsunami to come my way. I’m done with the first step; I have a destination.The second thing in my planning process is to decide how long my holiday should be. According to my calendar, I am able to secure 9 days (I.e.8 nights). This is enough to experience what the Coast boasts about. My holiday will start on a Saturday and end on Sunday the following week. More than enough time! I check my finances and they are loyal.
They have agreed to fund my holiday. I am all happy and excited. But wait, I haven't decided what I want to do all this time. So, I have to come up with an itinerary. 9 days in one place can get boring real fast. Diani, Nyali, Watamu and Malindi are all calling out for me.. I want to experience the four destinations. This means 2 nights in each destination will fit in my schedule perfectly. Sounds like a plan.
Where do I stay? This is next hurdle that I need to cross over. I want something nice. I mean, I deserve the best. I don't want to be in a hotel setting for 8 nights. It has to be a different experience. The idea of a house/Villa pops up and I immediately like the idea. Now am sorted. However, the last time i was in Mombasa I stayed in Nyali for 4 days. It makes no sense to go back there. So, I skip it.
I am happy with Jacaranda beach resort, Watamu; Kibali Villas, Malindi; Amani Tiwi Beach Resort, and Mzima house, Diani. I am a travel consultant so you can bet making reservations is a sip of water. Only one thing is remaining. I can't go alone. Nine days is a long time. I need company from a lady (of course, by default. what would I be doing with a man for a week).
Aida (not her real name) is my only choice. Luckily, she is available for the week. I need to get Aida in on the plan.. I need to run her through the itinerary, preferences and choice of places to stay. She is cool with it. I’m now ready to roll. Countdown begins.
D-day: It is 29th of February and my long waited adventure has begun!
This is my first stop (How I got here isn’t important. What's important is that I got here). They say 'Watamu ni tamu'. It has to award me with a grand start. Otherwise, Aida will start doubting the entire program. She might just start altering it, offering alternative options and fixing her preferences (you know how women are).
We arrive at Jacaranda beach resort, Watamu.
The guy at the gate shows us the way to the reception. “Hello Eliud.” A sound comes from behind the reception desk. (How do they know my name? I know they’re expecting an Eliud but how do they know it's me?) A lady emerges from a small office at the reception and introduces herself as Marta.
The name sounds familiar. She helped me make my reservation. Marta is friendly. She offers us a glass of juice as she keyed in my details. I’m still curious to know how they knew that I was Eliud, therefore I ask. “So, how did you know I am Eliud?” Marta smiles, shakes her head and replies, “That's my job”. For some reason I am satisfied with the answer.
After we are done emptying the glass of juice, some guy grabs our luggage and requests us to follow him. We oblige. After all, this is his job and the Lord knows we could use some help carrying the luggage after the long journey. Salim is friendly. He engages us in small talk and begins to tell us about the hotel. In five minutes, we have had a virtual tour of Jacaranda Beach Resort. As we walk further inside, reality starts to hit us. It looks beautiful. The grounds are well manicured and adorned with beautiful flowers all round.
Salim makes us understand that Jacaranda Watamu is a big hotel with 85 classic garden view and 17 classic ocean view rooms, 22 villas, 4 jack Superior Rooms and 1 ocean suite. Up to this point, am not sure which room we have been booked into.
I get nervous now that Aida knows the rooms are in categories. Suddenly, Salim stops, reaches for the keys from his pocket and opens up a room. He ushers us in and explains that the room will be our home for 2 nights. I’m now excited. The Jack Superior room is just the bomb.
It is very spacious; a king size bed in waiting (not that I cared much, but Aida certainly did); elegant Italian furniture and a very spacious bathroom.
I can't keep calm. Walking towards the glass door, I am greeted by the scenic view of the ocean at a slight distance! Just outside of our room, there is a swimming pool.
What more can I ask for? Aida is totally excited. I can tell she wants to say something, but she is lost for words and only manages to utter the word “aaaw”. My guts tell me I am a lucky man.
It’s 1.15PM and my tummy is crying foul. We start heading towards the restaurant. Around the main swimming pool area I notice some mzungus staring at us.
I look at Aida, thinking probably she is dressed inappropriately. I choose to ignore them. At the entrance we are met by two guys who welcome us again, show us around and make sure we are seated (Just how sweet could a holiday be?). Aida then whispers to me, "Look around, we are the only Kenyans here." I look around and confirm the same. Actually not Kenyan, we are the only black people in the restaurant.
I decide to call the waiter standing right next to our table. He re-confirms that we are the only black people in the entire hotel. It’s understandable. I mean being February, everyone’s pockets are drained by school fees and no one is thinking about a holiday at this time of the year. And again, Christmas was just the other day. I get back from my reverie and decide it’s time to see the chef’s special for the day. Skimming through the Menu, I realize it’s purely italian cuisine.
This is where Aida gets confused. She doesn't know what to eat or where to start. Having worked as a chef for 6 months at Kaskazi beach Hotel comes in handy and I help her make an order. Isn't she lucky? but not as lucky as I am to have her company. It is the first time I’m having italian cuisine myself. Somehow, we manage.
Malindi has to top its predecessor Watamu. Malindi town is considerably a commercial town.
We arrive at Nakumatt Supermarket where the owner of Kibali Beach Villas has an office. (Paul is a Malindi tycoon who buys Villas, upgrades them then rents them out for short term and long term periods to holiday makers. After a while, he sells them to buy others more luxurious).
Kibali Villas are offered on a self-catering basis. They are fully furnished and the kitchen is fully equipped. Paul is generous enough to offer us a chef. Our major task here is to shop for foodstuffs after coming up with a menu for the 3 days we will be in Malindi.
Paul offers us a car that will transfer us to the villa in Mambrui area. Upon arrival, we are met by a lady who we later discover will be our chef and cleaner. She is very friendly. The villa is in the middle of a village of over 150 Villas. All the Villas share security, a beach, restaurant and two swimming pools. This means that we have neighbours.
The villa is two-bedroomed with a sitting area, has zuku cable television, a hot shower and toilet, a kitchen and an outside verandah with two sofa beds and a dining table
This is our home for the short period we’ll be here. Just the two of us. Surprisingly, the network connection is terrible. This means that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp are a no no! What do to?
At this point I remember when I was in Arusha last year December. I had left the country for a 14 days road trip through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. In Arusha, we stayed in Meserani at a campsite called Snake Park. At around 8.00pm, I decided to join some guys at the bar. I thought I would have a chance to chat with my loved ones. I sat at the counter and called a mzungu lady who was serving drinks. Before she could come, I saw some writings on the wall behind her. "No Wi-Fi! Speak to each other! Pretends it's 1990! Call your mother!"
This is the same situation I am in now at Kibali Villas. We have no choice. Stories have to come from nowhere, while looking into each other's eyes. Of course you know the chemistry that follows. I can assure you we are having a good time. This situation is making us realize there is so much the Internet denies us. We don't talk any more. We are always on our gadgets.
It's the second day and we decide to go swimming. At the pool it's just the two of us. We realize that all our neighbours are elderly Italians who are in ‘hibernation-mode’. They only come out of their houses in the evening when the sun is friendlier. I have enough time and space to give Aida some swimming lessons.
The beach is calling. We haven't seen the beach in Malindi. It's a 300m walk from the pool. We get there and no one is there. The white sandy beach has nobody enjoying it. Again it's just the two of us. “Just how romantic has Malindi turned out to be?” I think to myself. After a few minutes, we notice a small boy getting ready to go fishing. We decide to join him. He is generous enough to let us try to catch fish.
Kibali Villas is able to give a homely feel. Relaxation, quietness, breeze, space and satisfaction characterized this place. If my reader is looking to bond with someone, strengthen their relationship or rekindle their love, then look no further.