In November I flew with Kenya Airways to Nairobi from London.
The last time I flew this airline was in October 2017 from London to Victoria Falls via Nairobi. They didn’t serve drinks nor food on that flight. There were no movies to watch. Just slide shows of woman changing into panthers or whatever. I think they use scrapped planes on the other side.
This time I was staying in Kenya. I first checked through immigration in Nairobi and when I handed the officer my Zimbabwe passport he said he noticed me in the line and thought I looked Kenyan. I told him I speak Swahili.
I then flew onto Mombasa and checked into the Voyager Hotel and changed into my costume and went down to the beach. I met Nixon who was selling day trips to snorkel and see dolphins. And eat seafood on an island. And Dida came up to me to offer me a massage at her beach shack. I told her I would like my toe nails to be painted instead.
The following day Nixon met me on the beach to escort me to have my pedicure. He is a Rastafarian but without the dreads. He later became known as my bodyguard. We walked along the beach and around the rocks with tiger crabs (which make you go deaf if you eat them). I met a man carving wood into key holders and asked him if he could make me one in the shape of Zimbabwe with my name in the middle.
Dida’s beach shack is made out of reeds from coconut palms. She was inside giving someone a massage. Miriam laid wood on the sand and lit a fire to heat water in a pot to soak my feet. Nixon and I sat on tree trunks around a low table with a colourful mosaic tile top which drooped in the middle. I stood up and hit my toe on the tree trunk and broke my baby toe. Nixon quickly jumped up to massage it while I rested my foot carefully on the cracked table. Miriam came and massaged it with oil. The fire went out in the meantime and she had to light it again.
So we waited some more and watched a hermit crab in a shell crawling over the frying pan which rested against the tree. Nixon joked that it wanted to be cooked. I sat smoking a cigar while we discussed where we go when we die. And Nixon told me about his Jewish friend he once had who bought charcoal from Kenya for export to Israel. And used to take him to the synagogue and who he learnt to speak Hebrew from. Until 2002 when terrorists blew up an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa and he left.
The water boiled and Miriam poured it into a large blue plastic dish on the sand. We moved to plastic chairs under the scooping reed porch held up by sticks. She held each of my feet over the bowl – splashing them to remove the sand. Then removed my nail polish and scrubbed my toes with an old tooth brush. I sat quietly while she massaged my feet and calves and watched the tooth brush swirling around in the plastic dish. Nixon asked me why I was quiet and I told him that I was relaxed. I gave Miriam my pink nail polish to paint my toes and she suggested I come back for a full body massage.
The following day Nixon was waiting to escort me for my afternoon massage but I first had to clear my case with the hotel duty manager as I got into trouble earlier by a man from the KWS for swimming in the sea with my snorkel and goggles. I was supposed to pay for seeing creatures in the sea. I told him there aren’t any and he told the pool attendant at the infinity pool that I was going to be arrested. It turned out that he was new and the marine park is two kilometres away.
The rectangular shack is just big enough for four beds at each corner. It’s open plan with no curtains and the floors are kept sand. Before I arrived I asked God to make sure my dignity was kept. There were two Dutch men being massaged on the two end beds which I was hesitantly brave about because I had my bikini on. Miriam poured oil on my leg and then briskly whipped up one side of my bikin bottom and walked off to close the bottom half of the stable door leaving my right cheek exposed.
My body was stiff as she massaged my leg and I was trying to imagine if there was any way the two Dutch men could see me. If they tilted their heads up the ladies giving them their massage would see. But if they moved their eye balls up they might. So I practised staring up and outside the stable door towards the sea and quickly pulled my bikini bottom down.
And relaxed for most of the next hour before I started calculating that if my pedicure was KS1 800 then I must have heard Miriam wrong when she told me the day before that it would be KS1 000 for a full body massage and that maybe it was KS10 000. And wished I had never come. I was so relieved that it was the equivalent of US$10 that I booked again for when I returned the next week from Masai Mara.
I caught a flight in a light aircraft from Mombasa to Masai Mara. For the first leg of the journey I was alone with the pilot. Who asked me if I was a billionaire from Zimbabwe. We landed at Ukunda airport to pick up six more passengers and then landed at Malindi airport to pick up an additional two. I got out the plane to find the pilot because I was hungry and hadn’t had breakfast. He walked across with me to the airport to buy chips and asked me if I would like to fly with him in the cockpit.
For the rest of the flight I flew in the cockpit as ‘Co-pilot’. I kept quiet the whole way not to distract him. Only occasionally offering him sweets. I sat staring at the instruments wondering how he sees where he is going as the dash is so high. And thinking he might be bored because he only has to keep the steering straight. I tried to work out all the instruments and hoped that my iPhone and iPad under my seat weren’t effecting them as they weren’t on flight mode. I took photos of clouds and Mount Kilimanjaro with a snow cap.
We landed at Olkiombo air strip and I had nobody to meet me. Although I had booked a transfer with Ashnil Camp. Four Americans were to arrive later as they missed the flight the day before and I got dropped off by their guide at a nearby camp to wait for my camp to send a guide to collect me.
I stayed in a luxury tent on the Mara River. There was a thunderstorm on my first night, the first for the season. I lay in my four poster bed covered with a mosquito net listening to the thunder and lightning. I woke up to the sound of grunting hippo.
Both times I went on a game drive I went alone with a Maasai guide in a jeep with open sides. We stopped alongside lion, cheetah and elephant which were only a few metres from us. We saw mating black rhino and my guide who had been in the area for 25 years had never seen that before and said I had brought him good luck. I think I caught the equivalent of the Nyami Nyami (the Zambezi river God) in the Mara River on my camera too.
I went on a hot air balloon with 10 others and a Russian pilot who wore goggles. I was late as my guide had to make a two hour detour as the river was flooded from the storm. After we landed and had our breakfast in the bush, the pilot showed us photos on his laptop of our trip. I really wanted them but didn’t want to pay US$40 but then decided to although I didn’t have the cash on me. He said I could give the guide the money when he dropped me off. I got the USB stick and put it into my camp’s computer in reception and found that most of the photos were distorted. I quickly phoned the guide and told him not to give the pilot the money and to collect the stick. But at the same time I quickly downloaded a few and emailed them to myself. I felt a little bit naughty but I really wanted them.
When I returned back to Mombasa I went on the day tour with Nixon in a wooden boat with sails from a port that used to ship off slaves. We saw eight dolphins and snorkelled for two hours. Then had lunch on Wasini island and gave out pencils and sweets to the kids.
On my last day I went for my third full body massage in 10 days. Then had fish and sadza in a beach shack made out of simbi with sand floors and wooden benches with long thin tables. Nixon and I sat on the bench waiting for our fish to be cooked. I gave him my bible to have as Yeshua had asked me to and went for my last swim in the sea while he stayed behind. I whacked my foot on a whale’s rib bone which I brought back with me.
Nixon poured water from a plastic bottle on my hands to wash and asked me to show him how Zimbabweans eat sadza, so I rolled some up in a ball in my hand and dipped it into the relish. I’ve been doing this since a toddler when I shared meals with the cook. We rushed back to the hotel as I had to leave for the airport. I stopped on the way and asked Nixon if he believes in Yeshua – he does and he believes me that I’ve seen Him too. I asked if I could quickly baptise him in the sea although I had never done it before. He gave it a raincheck. I gave him my aqua blue snorkel and goggles and said goodbye.
I had a window seat booked on my flight back to London but asked God if he could please give me an empty seat next to me. When I got to my seat there was a girl sitting there. I sulked a little until I realised that she had already asked the air hostess if she could move to an aisle seat as she wasn’t feeling well. We flew over the snow capped Alps where I will be landing in a few weeks time in transit to Rome for Christmas.
My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills.