To the Coast

I guess I love the beach more than most people. Why else would I pay a fortune to buy a condo two blocks from South Beach near Miami, FL? So when someone suggested I visit the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, I thought “hmmm, I have not been to a beach since Nuweiba in eastern Sinai, three months ago.” So I decided to take a little detour and ride to the coast, spend a few days, then take the bus back to Nairobi before continuing west to Uganda.

But before that, a few more photos of Nairobi.

I had lunch one day with a very interesting man, Greg Snell. He has been doing missionary work in East Africa for about 25 years. He described his first experience in Kenya as “coming home” and felt he belonged here. I can certainly understand that. There is something that draws you to this area. Perhaps because we all came from here (as Greg put it, maybe this was the garden of Eden.) Greg’s family also has one of the few remaining private dwellings on Isle Royale. Back when the government decided to make the Isle a National Park, many people were living there. They were given the option of selling out or keeping the place under a lease of some kind. They chose the lease and so have had the place to themselves since the 1930s or so.

Greg is also a cyclist (or he was anyway). When he was 15 he rode a bike 175 miles in one day. That has me beat. But he says he could not ride the next day.

Here we are after lunch in the Nairobi Java Cafe


Another shot of David Kinjah, the mechanic/cyclist/anticorruption reformer who completely overhauled my bike. Here he is truing my front wheel.


The people who operate the buses, or matatus, in Nairobi sometimes go overboard in painting their vehicles. They look like moving billboards for American rap stars.

A rainy day in Nairobi. The view from my hotel room.


Woman and shadow.


Hanging laundry.


Kids playing with old tires.


A hair salon. What in the world is a curly kit? A blow out?


Out of Nairobi I stopped in a small Maasai town. The Maasai are very suspicious of photos and charge exorbitant fees to have their pictures taken (one woman wanted about $20.) I had to take these surreptitiously with a telephoto lens.

I rode south to the Tanzania border. There is a National Park there, Amboselli, but I am not allowed to ride inside because wild animals may attack. A taxi would coast $200 which was outrageous. So I rode on a service road around the park. It was hot and dusty. For two days I struggled over the road. It was quite scenic and I saw some big game: impalas, zebras, ostriches, and a few other deer-like creatures. A herd of elephants also wandered past my campsite one morning which was a bit frightening. Fortunately they did not see me.

In the town of Namanga I stayed at a hotel that had a pet baboon called Susie. I made friends with her by giving her mangos and bananas.


There are a lot of Maasai in the town. The women are incredibly persistent in selling bracelets, necklaces and other crafts. I fended them off for a while but eventually ended up buying several pieces. I also negotiated some good rates for photos (about $1 each). Check out the earrings.

Some of the Maasai have brands on their cheeks and their lower front teeth are pried out with a knife when they are 10 years old. They also shave their heads. Strange customs.

More views of Namanga. A hotel/butcher shop. Why not?


Sleeping off a hangover (or a dead person).


The women know how to use their heads.


The road near the Tanzania border.

I got to within 30 km of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.


My campsite the morning the elephant herd passed by.


Another amusing hotel sign. Check out rule #8.


7 thoughts on “To the Coast

  1. Capt. Don Kilpela Sr. March 9, 2009 / 4:52 pm

    What a great post, Kev. I am so happy you got a chance to see Greg Snell. He has a reservation to go to the island this summer so I’ll have a chance to get updated on your travels in Kenya.

    Beautiful pictures; beautiful people.

    Incidentally, I have posted some more blogs on the crew of the MacVie for your interest.

  2. Ira March 9, 2009 / 11:43 pm

    So much for staying at that hotel next time I’m in Namanga…

  3. DAD March 15, 2009 / 12:28 pm

    I swear I have been in that butcher hotel years ago. Cute kids.——Lots of color

  4. Capt. Don Kilpela Sr. March 17, 2009 / 12:28 am

    Thought you might be interested that Miranda and Art just delivered a little girl, Aster Davis, making us great grandparents. Exciting. Maybe you already got this on the family site.

    Hope to hear from you soon. I studied about Tanzania in anticipation of your travels through there. Looks interesting.

  5. Mike Miller March 19, 2009 / 1:52 pm


    How are you buddy? I’ve been really busy the past few months so I unfortunately I haven’t been keeping up with your post. I had a little down time today so I decided to have a read and I have to admit that you are STILL one adventurous SOB! 🙂 Some things don’t change I suppose…Lol!!! I’m so glad that your trip is going well Kev. Keep the stories & photos coming bud and BE SAFE! I look forward to having a brew on South Beach and hearing your stories in person when you return!

  6. JoJo March 29, 2009 / 2:03 am

    So that’s how we women should use our heads….be alot more productive then the way we Americans do…

    Kev, isn’t it true that where there are elephants, there are lions? Maybe not. I really don’t know.

    wonderful pics.

  7. Kim June 11, 2009 / 12:22 pm

    Ok…a curly-kit is a “curl” I believe…your hair is left somewhat wet and your natural “kinks” are stretched by a chemical to create a “curl”…it is somewhat “wet” to the touch, but looks wavy or “curly”.

    A blow-out is simply, a wash and “dry”…They use a hair blower…your hair usually comes out like an “afro” depending on length and consistency/quality.

    I have never had a curl…think Michael Jackson back in the day…a blow out is normal…but in the States, we usually do a wash and “set”…we put rollers in our hair and sit under a hairdryer…our hair is nice and curly (dry) then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *