Christmas in Lamu

2011 – a knotted mess of a year that I’m rather glad to be rid of.  For those who like to read between the lines, the clue is in the postings.  I wrote half as much this year as I did each of the previous years.  And from my end of things, that’s usually a sign of too many words and not too few.  When there are too many words, the right ones do not find each other.  When the thoughts are too heavy, they break the pen.  (Including electronic pens.)

So yes, the year of our lord two-thousand-and-eleven is about to be done and dusted.  And thank goodness.  I have no need to recap the highlights.  Most of those are already on this blog.  Neither do I have any desire to dwell on the lowlights.  They were vicious enough at the time and dark enough in the remembering.  And some are still too near and present to bear telling, so perhaps another time.

However – the holidays.  These have been fantastic.  A wonderful end to a difficult year.  Mom and Dad came over from Congo and stayed for about a month.  We rested a lot and enjoyed Nairobi at its best – empty, sunny, and dry.  I decorated for Christmas.  We re-potted plants, got new tires for my car, put together a puzzle, watched a full season of Nero Wolf along with a handful of movies, hosted a couple dinners at my place, and went out to eat around town.  The only truly miserable moment was when I found myself clutched in an invisible Heimlich, raining cold sweat from every pore at 3am on Christmas Eve.  Food poisoning is miserable.  And a sure way to make certain you enjoy none of the tasty Christmas Dinner cooked up by friends.

Besides the food poisoning and the lounging around Nairobi, we did have one adventure.  Lamu!  Getting to the Kenyan coast at this time of year is generally a challenge if you didn’t already book something back in October.  However, we decided to try our luck with Lamu island.  I’ll let you Google it to get some context.  Turned out luck was with us!  Another family here, good friends of mine, decided to join us.  We rented a house together on the quiet, southern side of the island.  Three nights, four days, and it was spectacular.

The view from the house we rented.

Lamu town and Shellah (where we stayed) are two cities built in the old Swahili style.  Swahili culture is a mix of African and Arab cultures.  The towns reminded me a lot of Moroccan medinas – narrow streets with tall houses built side by side.  Only, everything is made out of coral stone and wood, and the carving style is different. The doors in these towns are often very beautiful.  Or very interesting.  I took a lot of door pics, but I’ll only share a couple here.

I like the contrast of the worn-out slippers waiting in front of this beautifully carved and fortified door.

A whale pelvis!  It was massive!  And just sitting on the beach!  I found it when I was exploring Shellah village.  An old man told me that it had washed up on the shore a number of years back and some men had pulled it in and put it here for general interest sake.  When I stood beside it, it easily came up to my ribs.

The opposite angle.

We got to go sailing!

And he let me drive!

Mom, enjoying the view and the breeze.

There are some pretty high dunes all along the island.  This is on the southeastern tip. I hiked up to the tree on the top there.

A large Lamu-style dhow.  Not the one we sailed, which was technically a Mozambican design.

Dhow at anchor.  Sunset on the Indian Ocean.

A few days after getting back from Lamu, Dad and I hiked Mt. Longonot.  Mom took the opportunity to have a quiet morning by a pool.  Probably the less painful choice.  Though it was my third or fourth time up the mountain, it still hurts and still takes the wind out of me.

Dad was very patient with my slow self.

So, all in all, I’m thankful for the break. Thankful for family that comes to visit. Thankful for rest and fun adventures. Thankful for mountains and oceans. And now, onward to 2012.

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