Africa · Kenya · Travel

Kenya, June 2011: An African Adventure

I love travelling. I love discovering new places. What I do not like is a 9 and a half hour overnight flight, when I am biologically unable to sleep on aeroplanes, cramped into a middle aisle seat and unable to read by the 2 watt ‘nightlight’ trying to penetrate the darkness all around me. And the food is awful. So, I’m more than a little grumpy by the time we land at Moi International in Mombasa, particularly as the queue to get through immigration is moving slower than a snail on crutches and my newly straightened hair is fast turning into a not-so-fetching Afro…

Finally however, we’re out of Arrivals, the African sunshine is beating down on us despite it being only 10am in the morning and the transfer coach driver hands us a much needed bottle of water. We’re on our way to the hotel… our holiday starts here! But first we have to face the hour and a half transfer… I am amused at my first sight of goats running across the road; slightly amused by the people waving at us like we’re some sort of tourist attraction; and much less amused when we have to wait for a ferry which is big enough to take our coach over to South Mombasa… I just want to sleep; I’ll be a much happier Mrs Fletche then I promise!

After what seems like a lifetime after we left Manchester Airport we are finally at our home from home for the next two weeks… Diani Sea Lodge. For a three-star hotel, under £2000 for the two of us, in a developing country such as Kenya, the hotel was pretty damn good. No, it doesn’t have the little personal touches that one expects in a more prestigious hotel. There were no little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom. There was no free mini-bar – there wasn’t even a fridge. There were no swans made out of towels and rose petals on our bed (actually that’s the one thing I did miss.. I demand towel animals on a daily basis…).  But in those big, luxurious hotels with every ‘extra’ available, do the bar staff know your name and what you’re drinking by the end of the first night? Does everyone from housekeeping and the garden boys to the reception staff and the restaurant staff greet you and take an interest in how you are? This is what set Diani Sea Lodge aside from the huge monstrous European and Caribbean complexes – its fantastic customer service.

Diani Sea Lodge 2

Diani Sea Lodge 3

We do have something of a glitch on arrival… a lack of air-conditioning. Or so we think. With our room key finally in our hand (and our suitcases being manhandled by the ever-present, ever-friendly staff), we can relax! Except… we don’t. Problem No 1. The sound of a generator right by our room which sounds like a helicopter taking off and puts paid to peaceful afternoons lounging on our terrace. Problem No 2. The cool air being distributed by our Air Con unit is the equivalent of a baby’s breath. We lie on the bed slowly roasting and melting into a pool of sweat. It’s unbearable. After an hour’s uncomfortable snooze, I am leaking as if I’ve done a heavy session in the gym (not as though I’d know what that’s like).

Over to reception we go. I am not a natural complainer, but the heat in Room 17 is insufferable and the generator noise is not conducive to a relaxing holiday… We are told by the receptionist – with his ever-present smile – that what we are experiencing is a power cut. “Ha!” we exclaim. “But the lights are working so it can’t be!” Mr Smiley Receptionist explains that the lights are powered by a back-up generator in the event of a power cut, but there isn’t enough power to run the Air Con units as well. “This back-up generator? It wouldn’t be right behind Room 17, would it?” Yes it transpires. It is.

Convinced that Mr Smiley Receptionist is trying to fob us off – or force us into paying for an upgraded room – we amble down to the pool bar for a beer. The alcohol is not particularly helpful to our exhaustion, so we head back to our room. We open the door, insert the key into the power socket… and WHOOSH, our air con is now emitting Arctic winds. This however is decidedly better than the feeble breeze it was generating earlier…

We spend our first evening – quite deservedly – at that pool bar.  It is where we will spend most of our evenings.  We easily chat to our fellow holiday makers, who share our love of travel, and we compare stories and make and receive recommendations. This is what I love about travelling, and in thirty or forty years time (and hopefully more!) I want the Fletches to be chatting to young fresh-faced whippersnappers over a cheeky cocktail and telling them all about our wonderful travel experiences…

Days 1-3 – Musings on Mozzies and Monkeys…

Days 1-3 pass by in a peaceful blur of sunshine, swimming, food, alcohol.  However there are some noteworthy happenings…

  • I wake up on Day 1 to discover that my body has become some sort of mosquito feeding ground overnight. Every part of my legs is covered in angry red lumps… oh, and then the itching starts…. After dousing myself in eau de mozzie repellent before venturing out the previous night, I can only assume it was during the short period I spent out on the terrace reading (after the generator noise had finally ceased). Or it was possibly due to me trying to mask the overpowering scent of eau de mozzie repellent with DKNY ‘Be Delicious’….
  • Day 2’s afternoon sunbathing session is rudely interrupted by a rainstorm of monsoon proportios which sends guests scattering every which way. Determined not to let it upset our afternoon, Mr Fletche and I set up camp at the inside bar for a particularly competitive game of Travel Scrabble
  • Day 3… Mr Fletche is the victim of serious crime. It still pains him to talk about it – you can see the shivers running down his spine when faced with two words. Monkey. And coconut. Yes, Mr Fletche was robbed by a coconut-stealing monkey. For the first couple of days we were delighted by the Vervet & Columbine monkeys happily jumping around the hotel, swinging from tree to tree… “Ooh, look! A monkey!” Now we are reduced to gathering up all our belongings in our arms and hissing whenever a monkey comes within 20 feet of our sunloungers…
Diani Sea Lodge
Did this monkey steal Mr Fletche’s coconut?
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