The Tana Guesthouse, Malindi, turns out to be a 2 minute walk from where coaches leave for Lamu. We pass scrub and small settlements. It takes 5 hours to reach the end of the mainland at Mokowe. Its been a bone shaking journey, mostly over compacted dirt road. The easiest way onto Lamu Island is by speedboat.
I like Lamu. It has the careworn charm that Mombasa lacked. The architecture is attractive. The donkeys wandering the narrow but welcoming alleys only add to the historic feel. The usual morning sounds of muezzin and cock crows is replaced by that of muezzin and donkey brays. There are barely any cars. There is only one road wide enough for vehicles. There are lots of “dhow captains” trying to flog trips around the island.
North of Lamu is Pate Island, part of the Lamu archipelago, and then Somalia. So I must head inland if I want to keep my head. I get the public ferry – a large dhow – back to Mokowe.
It takes another passenger to tell me the crew say the coach isn’t going anywhere. Its one of those times I wish I spoke the local language so I knew precisely what was going on, and so I could shout at the driver more efficiently.
A normal sedan car arrives to take us on. I get to sit on a cushion in the boot with the bags and a soldier. His rifle is so long we momentarily have trouble closing the boot door. At a rough shack, the “Simba Coaches Booking Office” we wait for their other coach.
This coach is actually more comfortable: a smoother ride and seatbacks at the correct angle for humans. The seats are tall and wide too. I manage to catch sight of a small flock of flamingoes in man-made shallows just outside Malindi, which we reach at nightfall. The coach is following my path from Mombasa in reverse before heading inland. We reach Mombasa at 9pm and arrive into Nairobi just after the 5am scheduled time.