These images and videos capture a few different aspects of what I love about traveling. Getting to learn about the history of place, the culture, the food, the people - their values and the ways they approach life.
My sister Shalom and I are currently in an interesting space, where we're both beginning new life chapters in the Fall, and so we decided to spend the summer traveling together, exploring, trying out new things and spending time with family. Our first stop was Mombasa! I hadn't been back to the continent in 9 years, and visiting here first felt like a great way to kick off the journey!
We spent a total of 5 nights in Mombasa (two in Mombasa town, and three in Diani) and although short, we got to do quite a bit, caught some with some old friends, and made new ones.
As you know, every city has a vibe and an energy to it, and Mombasa felt slow paced, calm. I heard some locals complain about that, but as visitors, it was the perfect pace. The people spoke so softly, seemed so loving, and everyone genuinely felt interested in making sure we were okay. We started our first full day in Mombasa visiting Fort Jesus, a fort which was built by the Portuguese in 1593. We walked around the old remains of buildings that one stood tall, while our tour guide (an amazing storyteller) told us interesting stories of the people who once lived there, and the evolution of the fort's function over the years. It was interesting learning about how the Portuguese, the Arabs and the Oman's settled in Mombasa during that period for a variety of reasons, and how their cultures influenced what we know as Mombasa today, from the Islamic architecture, to the food. It reminded me of Kano in that sense. I'd highly recommend visiting it if you're ever in Mombasa. :)
Afterwards, we went into Old Town, which was only a few minutes away from the Fort. Walking in felt like I was literally going back in time. We got to see many firsts - the first bank, the first hospital, etc.. There were also a lot of shops selling artefacts, kahawa (coffee) vendors, as well as a number of local restaurants. Again, everyone we met was warm, so easy to talk to, and so willing to share their stories with us.
At this point, we were starving and headed over to Sham E Bahar, where we discovered a meal that changed our lives forever - Masala Chips! It's fries pan fried with a type of tomato chilli sauce, chilli paste, garlic, pepper, salt, and other spices. Each restaurant seemed to have a different way of making it, but this was my fave! I can't believe none of my Kenyan friends prior to visiting told me about this gem, side eyeing you all! Shalom and I both couldn't have enough of it. From that point on, the first thing we would ask whenever we entered any restaurant was - "Jambo, please do you have Masala Chips?"
We spent of the rest of the day watching the sunset at English Point - which was quite the sight, while catching up with Devina. They also had the best cocktails there!
The next day we had brunch and spent time with the most lovely family. They truly made my day! They showed us around, we went to Nyali Beach, a few other spots, and then we were off to Diani!
Honestly, we didn't do much at Diani. No safaris, no tourist attractions, no tours, nothing. And that was the way we wanted it, we just wanted to take things easy. It felt refreshing sitting my the beach all day, enjoying the breeze, reading, napping, eating great food, working out (shoutout to Charity, the best Zumba instructor!), going to the spa, going camel back riding, catching up, talking about life, etc.. The Sands at Nomad had so much to offer, so we didn't feel a strong need to leave. The only time we did leave, was to watch the game (France vs. Belgium, vive la France!) and afterwards we went dancing at Forty Thieves!
We spent our last day with friends, and then we were off again.
A notable part of visiting Mombasa for me, was being aware of what made me feel immersed in the city. I initially didn't feel like I was in Mombasa, and Shalom could relate. It's a little difficult to explain - I obviously knew I was not in the US anymore, but I didn't feel like my heart was aware of the change as well. Even after spending the first day visiting historical sites, and eating great food, it felt like the spirit of the city hadn't hit us yet. It wasn't until we spent time catching up with friends there and interacting with the locals, that I think it finally hit us. I'm not sure what the trick is to feeling immersed in a city is, because I find that for me, it varies from city to city (for example I have no friends in New Orleans, and it's one of my favorite places in the world), and perhaps my emotional state entering the city. I'd love to know if you can also relate/if you've had similar experiences.
In any case, I came into Mombasa feeling emotionally unsettled, and left feeling softer. :) Asante Sana to everyone who made our trip so lovely, and to all the kind souls we met.
I hope these bits and bobs have been somewhat helpful if you're considering planning a trip to Mombasa! Feel free to drop a note if you have any questions <3
As always, thank you for taking time out to read this post.
Stay Kind; Stay True; Stay Beautiful,