Of holidays and sea cucumbers

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

Maybe deep inside me I’ve always loved getting away to secluded places. Come to think of it…I have. I always like to go to quiet and secluded places especially when I want to write. When I was about eight years old, we stayed at Travellers Beach Hotel for a week and it was quite the experience.

Every once or twice a year since I ‘cleared’ college, some kind of job always comes up that requires me to go to the coastal town of Mombasa….but only for one or two days.

It was almost the end of February, Tuesday 11 a.m when my boss asked me whether I could immediately travel (tonight) to Mombasa to do a story. I said yes. Who would pass up a chance away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi City?

The last few weeks had been crazy for me; deadlines, moving house, trying to get used to wearing contact lenses….bla bla bla…

I was going alone? Guys were asking. Yes, what’s wrong with that?

At the time, I did not see any ‘biggie’ about ‘hacking’ the stories or traveling or staying alone… (The introvert that I am…)

I was going to stay at Sun N Sand Beach Resort, a five star!  I was so excited! All I could imagine was lots of sun (the warmth and sexiness that comes with it) and lots of sand (just laying on the beach). I tried finishing everything up before I left but by the time I got home, it was 8 pm. I threw in a few clothes…plus beach wear and swim wear….you’d think I was going to be away for a week. Ladies!

I then realized that I wasn’t going to make it to the bus stop in town on time…by 9 pm. I rushed for the alternative. Coast buses stop at Marshalls on Mombasa Road. I take a taxi from my house and 30 minutes later I’m right on track and headed to the coastal town.I arrive at 5 am. but it’s still kind of dark and I stay in the bus til’ 5.45 a.m. I weigh my options about a taxi to Kikambala (Kshs. 1,000) or take a matatu and risk getting lost. I take the matatu mainly because that amount wasn’t in my budget.

The matatu to Kilifi was going to pass right past Sun N Sand Beach Resort so I sat as I waited for other passengers as the morning light came to life.

It was a long journey and the tout (who I kept reminding to drop me off at the Resort almost missed my stop). When I dropped off, my small suitcase strapped upon my right arm, my hand bag on the other, I asked one of the guys on the bike whether the walking distance to S N S was far and he said no. Then one of the Boda Boda (two-seater bicycles) guys came and told me that it was a bit of a distance. I took the Boda Boda inspite of my luggage…

True to it, the hotel was a few kilometers away from the main road, I just couldn’t have walked this far. It was a great place, Kikambala. Very rural, green trees, dusty road, mabati and grass thatched houses. But the hotel! My God! It was like a secret haven that was slowly unfolding infront of me. It was absolutely magnificent with all these white and outstanding peach colours. Great architectural designs and landscape. Over 500 in terms of bed capacity, I was soon to learn.

I was even more surprised when I saw the number of tourists present. Couples and families all here on holiday.I was the only black guest. The Resort is all inclusive; you really need not even go anywhere else. I was welcomed nicely as they were expecting me. Waited in the lobby, filled out some forms then talked to the General Manager, Fred Makumbi, who insisted that I rest and that we meet at 2.30 instead of 11 a.m. I was too excited to sleep. I was hungry though. Luckily, I hadn’t missed breakfast; the receptionist told me I could freshen up and that I’d make it in time for breakfast.

The food was great…mostly African. I felt like I was on a real holiday except that I had work to do. I couldn’t wait to go out onto the beach.

After some real food, fruits and passion juice, I went and changed, asked the receptionist what there was to do. She mentioned aqua aerobics and reef walks. I chose the reef walk for today, maybe aqua aerobics tomorrow. I found my way down to the beach taking in my surroundings… Tourists were sun-bathing, most reading books or a novel by the numerous poolsides. The place had so many pools! I couldn’t even count them. S N S Beach Resort was sparkling with serious holiday makers.

Of beach boys….

Down at the beach, one beach boy approached me even before my foot hit the sandy beach. He was rugged looking and totally pissed me off. He tried to persuade me (so skilllessly) to go for a walk along the beach. All I really wanted was that reef walk. I managed to get him off my back but he continued to follow me. I finally made it clear; a little rudely maybe, that I wasn’t interested.

I was craving to feel the ocean’s salty water on my skin; it’s warmth, it’s smell, the sand and the feeling of limitlessness. I was craving to go in…But the beach boys! They were all over me, asking where I was from….(They thought I was from Jamaica), how long I was staying…and so on…They were a complete turn off to me. I finally decided to sit down near the beach patrol officers and I started collecting shells. They’d still come to me and I’d ignore them or they’d get scorned by the patrol officers.

One good-looking and clean one, came up to me and we went for that absolutely worth it reef walk.

The tide was low…..

The tide was low, we walked for almost  I km before any waves hit us. Right behind me were two Caucasians; a male English football player and his girlfriend (a very sexy tall lady in a bikini).

I saw some really amazing sea creatures and regretted having not carried my camera. I saw a male star fish that was so huge and pretty, red in colour and some very young star fish. I learnt that the young ones that are black in colour are hard to tell what sex they are until at a later stage. I saw sea urchins-which were black in colour and when their spikes poke you, it’s so painful. The females have shorter spikes, I learnt.The sea cucumber ‘kidnapped’ my fancy. It’s black in colour and when touched, it hardens itself and releases some sticky fluid that acts as a protection mechanism.It sure does look like a cucumber. I learnt a lot about coral reefs, how and why they die; when there’s not enough water reaching them on time. I saw a sea hedgehog, amazing!!!I saw zebra fish!

Sea creatures used to scare the ‘heck’ out of me, but I have realized how fascinating they can be and I absolutely love them now….

I had to rush back but not before I swam in one of the pool areas. I almost fell asleep by the poolside.  I went for lunch; great food as usual. Prepared for the meeting at 2.30 p.m.Told him the story was urgently needed. Organized for transport for me to Kikambala Primary School and accompanied me himself. I interviewed about eight kids about how they felt about having a computer at their school with internet (I realized that for kids you need to read between the lines inorder to provide any kind of comprehensive report).

Took photos. One particular kid jazzed me, his name was Mohammed Ali named like the famous boxer and he was so unforgettably humorous

I asked them about politics and who they’d vote for if they had a chance. Most said Raila …apparently because of his promise of free secondary education. Was picked up at 5.15 p.m. taken back to S NS, changed and went back to the beach. Had a great swim in the ocean..catching the waves til’ sunset…I went to the sports area (gym), beat guys at table tennis (I love beating men at this game-I’m really good!!!). I exercise my muscles and the instructor (so fashionably toned up) leads me through aerobics class.

Dinner on my table alone-7.30p.m. I’m thinking, if my lover was here, we’d probably be playing ‘ball’ or rugby on the beach ….like two people who haven’t forgetten how it feels like to be kids.

There was a live band playing country music, so I remain at the lounge til’ 11 p.m. Under the warm and starry night, I go for a walk. I’m a bit tipsy because of all that wine ..yea, all that wine… I’m all alone but I’m comfortable, I’m enjoying myself. I sit down under the palm trees and write a poem ‘sunny loving’. I did not quite understand it then but completely do now.

…………..And this is just the beginning of my love to get away, see new places, smell different kinds of breezes. I think I am now a certified holiday fanatic. I hope in future I will be able to afford my own holidays……


3 Responses to “Of holidays and sea cucumbers”

  1. Nairobi Living Says:

    Coasto…. Jealous like whoa! Si then next you call a brother… SNS sounds mighty nice


  2. Eudiah Says:

    It was the last minute thing; besides, the brother would have had to pay about Kshs 7,000 a day. Mine was catered for.


  3. eudiahkamonjo Says:

    I wonder how Sun N Sand is doing this season-interms of tourists inflow…..
    Shouldnt go to waste


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