It starts with Reina pushing it a bit too hard. Sometimes I’m slow to make decisions. She only chooses to push it if there’s something I need to do and have slacked on. When I finally fall in line, I end up appreciating her ‘persistence.’ Most times it pays off.
“Babe, let’s do something different. Let’s go for a vacation.” She kept on saying.
You know how it is with the grind. We spend too much time paper chasing, working, hustling or whatever it is you do and sometimes forget to take a break from it all. My birthday was fast approaching, so we settled for a getaway place. At first, we chose Lamu but some conditions led us to settle for Malindi.
The plan was to use the SGR to Mombasa, spend a night there and later head to Malindi. When I logged onto the portal to book for online tickets, the Friday trip was at 2:30 pm. That would mean slashing our vacay with one day of traveling and having less to do on Friday, maybe checking in and sleeping. We settled for a bus ride to Malindi on Thursday night instead. The bus would depart at 8:00 pm.
This decision was guided by my long lost pal from Malindi, Chaka. I schooled with Chaka in high school. He was a mean basketball player who joined the school team as young as form two. We envied his skill, an eagle with the ball in the air. When I called him up telling him Reina and I are planning to kick it in Malindi for a birthday weekend, he was happy to be our guide and give us the best experience ever.
Some friendships are hard to dissolve in the context of time, right? He told us to book a bus straight to Malindi. The Tahmeed bus proved a wise option (check out the short review post on IG).
When we got to Malindi, a few minutes to 7:00 am, Chaka had parked a black Harrier ready to take us to our place of stay for the next couple of days. We checked into a 5-bedroom Villa called Astra House located in Sunpark Estate. It’s well furnished with Swahili inspired interior design and architecture. It’s managed by a showman called Samson. He’s a great chap to have around. And he cooks your food on request. You can check the place out on Air BnB – heads up, the cost is friendly.
Reina was amazed at the place. Normally if she’s happy with something, I am too. Her taste is way better than mine in many things. We checked in, emptied our bags, took a shower and in no time, we were ready to head out. That was around 9:00 am or a few minutes past nine.
We’d slept on the bus and that would keep us charged till the evening. Besides, we’d come to Malindi for a tour, right? Less indoors, more outdoors.
Chaka took us to Simba Dishes for a taste of Swahili breakfast. It’s in the heart of Malindi town. You should have seen our breakfast table, filled up to every edge with all sorts of foods – mahamri, mshikaki, mitai, mbaazi wa nazi (pigeon beans with coconut sauce), real bhajias (I say real because what we have in Nairobi is far from it), viazi karai and my new favorite drink since my stay in Malindi, ukwaju also known as Tamarind juice.
The breakfast was quite filling that later we opted to skip lunch. And it was quite affordable – a meal for three cost less than the single Java full breakfast for one.
Our next stop was the Malindi Museum. If you’re a Kenyan citizen, it will cost you Ksh 100 only. It grants you access to the Malindi Museum, Column House, Vasco da Gama Pillar, and the Portuguese Chapel. Ali our tour guide was the best we could ask for, a storyteller by nature. He took us through the history of Malindi, the fishing, Vasco Da Gama’s exploits and we even took a picture at the pillar by those ol’ school photographers. Yeah, I know it sounds kiddish but how else do you store a memory? I guarantee you it’s a treat especially if you get Ali as your guide. (His contact is available on request).
It was already lunch hour but none of us was that hungry, we had some madafu and headed to our next destination – The Crocodile Farm. We arrived at lunch hour and found the place temporarily closed. They usually take a break between 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm to feed the reptiles.
Chaka took us to a friend’s shop called Get Hooked. It’s located in a mini-shopping center called Sofia Mall on Crocodile road. The place is plush with expensive quality products, mostly ladies stuff. A hospitable lady called Nasri and her husband Mike run the place. We spent a couple of minutes there chatting and eavesdropping on Chaka and Nasri’s catch-up conversation. I was on my phone most of the time and Reina didn’t take it too kindly, ‘Baaabe, we are on a vacation!’ That’s when the phone went on flight mode.
When we finally got to Crocodile Farm, we met a gentleman called Onesmas. He was our guide. He speaks in a flat tone filled with subtle humor. He showed us the snakes, tortoise, and crocodiles they have around the place. And he makes you laugh at a joke about how the black cobra will kill you in less than 20 minutes if it bites you. At some point I held the python around me, I was scared of my shits. Watch the video here.
Afterward, we went to Malindi Marine Park. Joined a few of Chaka’s friends and got to swim in the beach. It was hella fun. Reina hadn’t swum in like 6 years and it was hard and funny to see her get her footing as the waves tossed her around. She’s still mad at me for laughing.
One thing about swimming is you get tired and hungry after some time. Which made us regret leaving our snacks at Astra House. Later on, we had a Swahili cuisine for dinner at a local restaurant just before Malindi Law Courts called Seafront Swahili Dishes. The waiter, Swaleh was a performer who served us every time we went there. Malindi offers you many such entertainers and he was one of the best. I think it runs in people there. They will communicate through entertaining you as they speak. It’s quite a watch. The biryani chicken we ordered was exquisite. Reina agreed to it too. What I liked the most was the coffee they made, nicely simmered with ginger and some other spice I couldn’t quite tell what it was.
By the time we were done with dinner, we headed back to Astra House took a shower and slept. That was a good day spent, no doubt. And that was just day one.
Read more to find out what happened on Day 2 at Malindi