Whatever ... 2011 ... this must be # fifteen


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Coastweek -- All Africa Departures: The afternoon list of passenger planes leaving from busy Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. I'm leaving from nearby Wilson Airport on the Safarilink flight to Lamu.


Cooling off in Lamu

There are five of us for dinner that evening in my
friendís classic Lamu-style apartment Ė including
an historian of Kenya and a lady adventurer


Coastweek -- My plane to lamu is a little ten seater. Iím reliably told itís a Cessna Caravan 208. All I know is itís very handsome. But, as with any small plane, you feel your mortality as you rise and fall on the air.

Taxi-ing, the woman next to me says "Iím afraid of flying" and, as we lurch into the sky, she instinctively reaches for the seat in front and me at her side.

In fact the weather is calm, and we have a steady flight, over the beautiful Kenyan landscape.

In less than two hours Iím out of Nairobi and stepping onto the quayside of Lamu town where my friend waits for me, waving.

We collect some groceries for dinner and stop for a Tuskers.

There are five of us for dinner that evening in my friendís classic Lamu-style apartment Ė including an historian of Kenya and a lady adventurer.

It doesnít get cooler than this.

We talk about many things, and I try to keep my side of the conversation up.

A big topic is worries for the forthcoming elections.


Coastweek -- [Clockwise from top] Lamu Quayside, Wilson airport and arrivals Manda Airstrip.


Like everyone else, theyíre concerned that there will be more violence.

When the chips are down what do people do Ė will we see rioting and fighting?

This is what fear and anger brings out in people.

But fear can also bring out something else.

Iíve seen it just now, a gut instinct to cling to others for support.

Maybe we have more of a choice than we think Ė to cleave to each other rather than put cleavers into each otherís heads.

The next day is another hot Lamu day.

My friend and I decide to go to Peponis for an afternoon drink.

But our timing was off.

Yes we decided to walk rather than catch the boat.

Yes it was shortly after 11.30am when we set out.

Yes we were wearing flip flops and yes the sand was like burning shards of glass for the full thirty minute walk.

'Mad dogs and Englishmen' Ė cíest moi!

The headiness of the day had clearly got to us, so that after a few drinks at Peponis, and dinner at Lamu house, neither of us can quite remember how we got home.

Something about a cat, something about a wall; the details are blurry.

Too soon itís time for me to head back out to Manda Island airstrip for the plane back home.

Iím late, have missed the public boat and have to get a private boat to the strip.

Which means Iíve no idea if the plane is still there.

The airstrip looks quiet, too quiet.

All I can see are two officials who are laughing and feeding the Lamu cats.

"Have I missed it? Safarilink to Wilson?" I pant.

"Oh yes itís gone." Replies one of the men, all serious and stern.

Then he breaks into a big grin. "Ha ha".

"Ha, you are trouble, I can see this!"

Coastweek -- On the private boat: will I make it back in time for my flight?

I reply to the man, who turns out to be the main check in and immigration official.

He is that rare thing in a customs official, a charming ambassador for his country.

The M.P. for Lamu is also at the airstrip and buys everyone a soda.

We all drink and chat as we wait for our flight.

Then itís time to board.

Trouble comes up and waves me off:

"Goodbye Sharif, see you again!"

He is smiling.


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