I spent my vacation on the island of Lamu. Lamu is off the coast of Kenya, just south of the border with Somalia. Of all the bizzare places I have visited in the world, I think Lamu might be the most bizzare. Imagine:
2 mol Kenyan culture + 1 mol Oman + 1 mol Jamaica + 1/2 mol Bronx NYC, + 1/2 mol Saudi Arabia + 3/4 mol misc Europe ------> add heat ------>POW! -----> LAMU
I wish I could post pictures, but unfortunately my camara was stolen by a machete-wielding thief (more on this when the PTSD clears). I will try to use words to describe the island, although my pics would have been better.
There are not cars or bicycles on Lamu. The only forms of transport are donkeys and boats. There are supposedly more than 3000 donkeys in active service. They defecate anywhere they please. The boats--"dhows"--are made entirely of wood. Many of them are hundreds of years old. The masts are tree branches tied together with bits of rope. The sails are a patchwork of misc canvas pieces stitched together painstakingly over the centuries.
Like Zanzibar, Lamu is an ancient civilization that thrived--and probably peaked-- centuries ago, during the slave-trading days. Ancestors of the current residents came from the Middle East, Europe, and mainland Africa. More than three-fourths of current residents are Muslim. It is not easy to get a beer there. The women wear creepy ninja-burkahs; the kind with a narrow slit for the eyes. I took a good pic of a ninja-woman texting on her cell phone while she was riding a donkey through town.
There is a lovely beach 3 km from Lamu town. A bunch of Italians have bought up some of the beachfront property, but you can still walk for kilometers, bothered by nobody except for donkeys and bearded men with sharp machetes who threaten to cut off your head if you don't give them your favorite black bag filled with camera and seashells.
I will buy a new camera soon, so that I can post more pictures of Kenya on this blog. Lamu will live clearly in my memory though. I recommend a visit if you are ever in East Africa. Stay away from the Shela beach down past the castle.