August 11, 1987

8/11/87 Malindi

another night at the Silversands in Malindi

Snorkeling is always done with the tide out, or at low tide. This morning after the usual breakfast of mendazis and samosas, we had a long walk along the beach. After so many days of rain, it was refreshing to have the sun on you. Along the way you pass a lot of the high-price resorts and some very expensive beach-front villas.

At the Malindi Marine Park, we loaded up on a glass-bottom dive boat. It used to be owned by Omari Bob but now owned by a friend of his. The boat headed out to the ocean side of the reef and slide through a gap that put us in a protected cove. Even before we got off the boat, I knew it was going to be incredible.

The boat driver was tossing pieces of bread over the side, creating a feeding frenzy of color. Fish of every color and size could be seen everywhere. Outside the boat you could hold a piece of bread up to your mask and have several fish go for it. So many bright colors, greens, blues, and reds. It was the best diving we’d had on the whole coast. Lots of variety of corals too.

After that, we walked to the snake farm, a little private reptile zoo. They had crocodile, lizards, turtles and a wide assortment of poisonous snakes. Heading back to town, we decided to have some ice cream. Yes, real ice cream. A few had banana splits, while I had scoops of lime, vanilla and chocolate. Just easing ourselves back into civilization.

Bob was kind enough to invite us all over to his house for dinner. He greeted us in his best attire, white Muslim robe, a nice suit, a colorful shawl and a kofia. Bob was a gracious host, but he served us too much food. We could choose from mendazis, chipotis with potato-beef stew, fresh bananas, coconut biscuits, rice cake and endless amounts of chai. After meeting all his family, we headed down the street to see his father. He’d been to ill to come to dinner. He was happy that we’d come and I’m sure Bob was glad too.

Our host, Omari Bob

Lisa, Bo, Maria, Annie and Angus enjoy mendazi and chapati

It was then time for more ice cream. While some people took a taxi, Bo, Becky, Mbugua and I decided to walk. Big mistake! I guess we walked down a street we shouldn’t have. One guy in the shadows asked us where we were going. We ignored him thinking he was just another taxi driver. He yelled again so we stopped. Coming out of the shadows you could tell he wasn’t a taxi driver, what with his uniform and rifle.

He grabbed Mbugua by the shirt and pushed him around while he was yelling at him. We all stuck with Mbugua because it was clear he didn’t want any trouble with us, just Mbugua. After about fifteen minutes of questioning Mbugua about his origins and what we were doing, the policeman let us go. We were all very relieved.

We stopped off at a place on the way to the bandas for a beer and laughed about it. Mbugua told us that if we weren’t with him, they would have slapped him around a little, and then ask him for fifty shillings. If he wouldn’t pay, he could get up to a month in jail charged with "aimless wandering" and a 300 shilling fine. Mbugua said it really wasn’t the policeman’s fault. He said it’s a shitty job and is very low paying. Plus he said its only in small towns that they hassle a lot of Kenyans.

Just as we arrived at the Silversands, we were stopped again. This time, a full jeep with about eight policemen jumped out as we were cutting between two of our bandas. They gave Mbugua a quick search. After we explained that these were our rooms and that Mbugua was a fellow student, they left us alone. They began to search the beach. One came back and told us to be very careful, "lots of rapes and robberies on the beach at night." What a way to end our day.