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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Indian Ocean Island Gems: Lamu

Okay, so your mother probably told you never to talk to strangers. Well, when you're traveling it's almost inevitable that you'll have to talk to strangers. In our case, we were lucky enough to have stumbled upon a stranger who generously invited us to her gorgeous home (or rather, estate) on the beautiful island of Lamu.

Mama P had her heart set on this sprawling mango, coconut, and cashew shamba for years before she could claim it was hers. And you could see why. Being in this peaceful part of Lamu, directly between the Old Town and shiny Shela, was a treat. Alex had a babysitter so that we could explore Old Lamu, delicious meals were prepared for us under an old mango tree, a view of the water from the terrace of our own yellow house, a sheep, goat and donkeys to keep us company, and a refreshing pool to cool off during the midday heat. If you're really interested in living here, it could be yours. Siani farm is for sale.

Mama P's digs

Our other yellow house

Our view from our terrace

Cool off!
Breakfast at Siani
Old Lamu itself is the epitome of Swahili culture easily assaulting your senses. Listen and you won't hear cars or motorbikes since the streets are too narrow for that type of transportation; just women in bui-bui (traditional burka-style dress) yelling at children running through labyrinthine streets and the clip-clop of donkeys. You'll smell (and sometimes step in) their manure as well as the open sewers that run from the top of the town straight into the sea. Take a walk through the small market and pick up some passion fruit. Look out for exterior walls made of coral block quarried from the neighboring islands, the simple Lamu style doors and porch entrances and the dhows with their star and moon "eyes" protecting them as they sail the channel. And for a taste of Lamu, head to a corner hole in the wall for piping hot chapatis, samosas and mandazi and down it all with some sugary tea.

Lamu House - best meal in town
Hanging out on the front porch
Winding streets
The hardest workers in Lamu
Home sweet home? Buy Umma House for less than half a mil.

For a spic-n-span version of Lamu, head straight to Shela. There's even an incredible (7 bedroom) fort you can rent just past the sand dunes.

 Shela - Lamu all cleaned up
Carved Door

You can sleep at The Fort

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