KENYA

February 26, 1978

I woke up from a short night of poor sleeping conditions, because while the mosquito net and spray kept the mosquitoes out, they seemed to have kept the fleas in. I washed and shaved in the inner court yard, then went to the bar-restaurant with Geoffrey for a small breakfast. It was then 09:45 and several sturdily voluptuous barmaids and amusement hunters were already engaged in drinking and negotiations.
I tanked up at an old Arab's pump, ks 78.10 (km 17154) and by 10:00 I drove off, already sweating, without Geoffrey who was to go to Meru. Driving was pleasant and cool, and the road was quite good. There were more people than yesterday, most very dark and half naked. including rows of stegopathic women with kalebasses on their heads and children on their backs.

I also saw many sheep and some stately white Brahman bulls.
Around noon, I turned off towards the coast and landed in some extensive saltpans with ponds, dikes, pumping works, sluices nad ditches galore. Next, some ibis and mangroves which were being cleared. It was hot and near the villages there were long lines of women carrying water.

On some kind of spit or cape with a large hill I came across the Centro Ricerche Aerospaziale, the counterpart of "our" NASA, Wallops Island, and in very similar lagoon and barrier island setting! I parked my car near the guard at the gate and took my bag ands swimming gear for a walk along the bank. There were several fine boats and two offshore rigs.


I ran into a group of Italians who spoke good English and had actually visited Wallops Island and trained in the USA and Germany. We agreed on the similarity of geologic setting. I walked on till I was so tired and warm that I undressed and dove into the water. At the surface it was almost too hot, but diving down a meter or so got me into cool water where I could see the shell debris and some rusty flakes in the troughs of the rippled sand bottom. I took a 2,500ft x 3 ft transect sampling tar, which yielded 13.0 g., corresponding to a mere 0.02 g.m-2 or 14.4 g.m-1.
This was at Mare Umoro, Ngomeni, north of Malindi, on the south side of the river mouth. While putting on my docksides and dirty socks, and avoiding the pugnacious red clawed fiddler crabs, I nevertheless decided to switch over to sandals sometime soon.
It was a long walk back to my car, which in the meantime had developed a flat. So now I had two flats, and was forced to get them fixed before I could move on.
Fortunately, I pulled a James Bond trick on the guard and he passed me on to the Italian Manager, who with another half dozen Italians was enjoying the breeze and some beers on a verandah. He had been working as a farmer in Abyssinia, had been held as a prisoner of war in South Africa, and told me that they were here for 3 months at a time, without family. The staff counted some 20 technicians, supplemented by NASA personnel during launches. Their next mission was Project Marco, July 1979.
The manager kindly allowed me to go along with their rapid VW bus to Malindi leaving at 15:00, so I could take my two wheels and tires to get fixed there.
The driver had worked for them ten years and spoke some Italian. We passed several large sand mining operations, watering holes, laundry "facilities" and bathing pools. The driver did not have to point out to us the gloriously glossy naked woman enjoying not only the water but also our obvious admiration and excitement.
After some 20 kms we crossed a bridge over the Sabaki River, We passed a gate, then got onto asphalt and suddenly arrived in a mini-paradise suburb for tourists with numerous hotels, beergardens, souvenir shops and shady trees, then got to the real city of Malindi which is even more spectacular. After some commotion and cursing that it was Sunday, they unloaded me at a tire repair shop or retreader. Here I was offered a chair and asked to wait about one hour. So I settled down and looked at the various scenes around. Two lovely litle children came over several times to shake and kiss my hand and repeat :" Jambo!" Their mother cut their sugar cane and barely avoided some tiny fingers holding on.
Passers-by included a giant native wearing large European shoes, a lame person on crutches, a small boy in a bicycle cart, several push carts, ladies in shawls and short skirted teenage girls ("prikkelpoppies"), as well as several very old and bent grandmothers.
Later, I found a hotel and ended up sitting in some type of wind tunnel to wait another hour for the three Italians to show up. I paid ks 180 and went back with three wheels and tires. On the way back at dusk my fellow passengers were very silent, probably feeling sorry about their recent-most R and R enjoyments.
The driver avoided all but one chicken and dozens of goats.
Back at the base, their car mechanic installed one of the wheels, and I thanked him profusely. I took off for my return to Malindi carrying three Muslim passengers; I thought I would never forget the fear reflected in my rear mirror from the eyes of the woman in the rear seat while we hit some bumps and bends...
But I made it safely, dropped them off and quickly found my Hotel Gilani, which cost ks 65 including breakfast. I had to climb a lot of stairs but got a large room with two beds and a giant mosquitoe net. The sea breeze was most pleasant, as was the (included) bathroom and toilet. Apparently, this had been a fancy hotel in the 1930's.
I washed my very dirty laundry and hung it out to dry.
Next, I took a stroll along the beach and got annoyed by the numerous beach boys addressing me as "My friend" or even worse, "Mein Freund," since German tourists were abundant, many in fancy safari suits. I walked through some of the hotel lobbies, e.g. the Blue Dolphin's and the Lawford's.
I sat down in a Beergarden near some sand sailboats and waited a half hour to be served a Kenya Cane, a redestilled type of sugar cane juice. The slow but gentle waitress also took care of three German bachelors on a drinking bout, one lonely queer, and several couples, German, Black and Mixed.
On my way back, I made two stops for some warm milk with sugar, samosas, and a mango shake. I was back as early as 20:00, when it was nice and cool, and I took another "mandi", throwing cool water from an open tank over my head using a dipper. I had a very relaxing and breezy night's sleep under the mosquito net and forgot to record the odometer reading, sorry


LINKS:
Fishery Statistics and Gear of Kenya, FAO
Kenya Marine Turtle Conservation
Shark fisheries off Ngomeni
pressure on Kenyan mangrove swamps
Antwwerp Game Fishers support Ngomeni School
Indo Tsunami Runup at Ngomeni
Fisheries and Aquaculture in Kenya
Mangrove restoration
Kenya Coastal Resources and their Use
Tana River Delta
The Kenya Navy
Malindi (and Ngomeni)

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