I had a most busy weekend this weekend, but it was fun. Saturday started off with me not intending to go anywhere and instead stay on base and use the computer lab for some serious computer work. However, like all good plans, this one fell through as we had yet another Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) fail, and I was left without electricity. The solution? Call up Jeff and ask him to go on an adventure!
We have been planning on visiting Shimoni for a while now, but spontaneity was never our ally and we always were busy. This Saturday however the stars aligned and we found ourselves on the way. I got to Jeff’s at about 12:30 in the afternoon and we jumped on another matatu back out to the road. There, we sat around waiting for a Shimoni matatu but alas, there were none to be found. Instead we boarded a Lunga Lunga matatu (Lunga Lunga is the south coast highway’s border town with TeeZed), and got off at the turnoff to Shimoni. We had a problem though: no matatus were running to Shimoni village; just our luck. Unable to ride motorbikes (due to official government policy), we asked around the junction shops how far the walk was. Now, in this heat, it’s discouraged by everyone to walk, especially the supposed 15 kilometers to the village. However, having nothing else to do but actually just get to Shimoni at some point, we started our trek.
Thankfully for us, a matatu ended up passing us, and even though it was jam packed with people, we found space (as you always do in a matatu), and endured the ride. It’s a good thing we got on board because it really was a 15 km walk, and it would have taken us forever (forever being roughly equal to two hours). Shimoni village itself is a very typical, small, clean, Kenyan south coast village with a few notable differences. Despite being a supposedly, “touristy place,” nobody there cared that we were white. The only time we got harassed for potentially being tourists was by a friend of Jeff’s so that doesn’t even count. There are also a distinct lack of ostentatious curio shops. If there are curio shops, they are placed far enough back as to not ruin the fact that this is still a real, living village and not some place for white people to walk around and embarrass themsevles when judged by local cultural norms.
In Shimoni there are apparently a lot of things to do which is good because I want to take my family here when they come to Kenya in August. First off, there is some supposedly world class deep sea marlin fishing. Then there is also the Shimoni Marine Reserve run by Kenya Wildlife Services that allows you to snorkel and even swim with dolphins! And finally there is Wasini Island, where there are some really fancy all-inclusive resorts which also run their own snorkeling and dolphin encounters. All in all, quite the water safari!
In general, it was a very successful adventure. The joke between Jeff and I was that Shimoni doesn’t actually exist, that it’s a magical mystical place filled with dolphins and mermaids that people talk about but nobody has ever been. When we were starting out on our initial 15km hike, we were perpetuating that thought, that despite a walk we would get there and never really find Shimoni.
The reality of the situation is much more tangible, but just as nice. At least during low-season, Shimoni is a regular Kenyan village that seems to be coping well with tourism and eco-tourism, and never once (in our admittedly only one trip), did we feel the usual hassle associated with the more traditional Kenyan tourist destinations. However, take it all with a grain of salt, because we were just walking around, not actually doing anything. It is nice enough for me to inspect further for a potential future vacation and would recommend others to do so as well.
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