Have you ever had a crazy morning? A morning where all your plans are challenged? Well we did. We had a rather crazy morning. Mainly because the rain came pouring down, and we were due to leave Turtle Bay Club for the Malindi Airport.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was to us. Why? Because we had asked our friend Charles (we met in Malindi) to collect using his Tuk-Tuk. But his Tuk-Tuk had a problem and he needed to borrow one, and this Tuk-Tuk may have a roof, but it has no side awnings, so we would have been rather wet!
And the rain made him rather late; and we had a flight to catch!
Fortunately our prayers were answered, and literally the minute Charles arrived, the rain stopped. He wiped down the seat, loaded our luggage, and off we went.
But when we arrived at Malindi Airport, he stopped at the main road and suggested we carry our luggage in. This was impossible, and I couldn’t understand what was going on. Local Tuk-Tuk drivers were giving him grief, and telling him he couldn’t park there at the side of the road out the front of the airport – it was their spot.
Turns out this further craziness was because the Tuk-Tuk registration had expired, and the security police at the airport would fine him. So we then had to pay another Tuk-Tuk to drive us a few hundred metres into the airport.
Once inside, we found Malindi Airport to be rather nice for a tiny airport. It is open plan so the breeze flows through, and you can see your plane landing. Then you walk out onto the field and up the stairs.
We flew over the gorgeous aquamarine sea using Jambojet Airlines to Lamu Island, and arrived within the hour. However, we discovered Lamu Island airport is actually NOT located on Lamu Island! It is located on Manda Island, and we discover it is a boat ride to the mainland.
So off we walk down to the pier with the locals pushing our bags in a cart.
It was still a rather overcast day, and we discover we don’t need to go to the main town of Lamu. So our speed boat takes us directly to the accommodation we have booked, about 25 minutes away along the water channel that runs between mainland Kenya and Lamu Island.
As we do, we get a few spots of rain, but so few droplets it hardly mattered.
We have decided to give ourselves a bit of a treat for what we thought was going to be the end of our time in Kenya. But it turns out it isn’t – more on that later! But it is the end of our time on the Kenya Coast, and this has been the area my heart has fallen in love with anyway.
We are met by some really lovely staff who cheer and wave a great big hello or “JAMBO” to us as our boat pulls in.
Where we are staying is an entire exclusive villa at Kizingoni Beach, – we have all to ourselves. It comes with 6 staff, and a speed boat for us to use. It has great wifi, and is part of a group of villas all neatly placed along the shoreline of Lamu Island.
I was pretty windswept when we arrived, and lovely Daniel came and served us a freshly squeezed lemon zest drink decorated with a frangipani from the garden.
We then were given a tour of the stylish Swahili house property, and we surprised at how large it was. It sleeps around ten adults (with loads of extra day beds and lounge areas too), and would be the perfect party house.
Explorason gets pretty excited when he sees the opulence and size of the three levels of the Kusini House, and jumps for joy!
My bedroom is incredibly huge and the corners wrap around the en-suites, and one side leads to my private lounge relaxation area. It contains a built in Lamu style bed.
Our master bedroom has ‘his and hers’ dressing rooms to each side, and also ‘his and hers’ en-suites – with the main en-suite being rather massive with a sunken bath surrounded by candles as a feature.
But on top of that, the Lamu wooden doors open out from the main ensuite to a verandah outdoor bath, which we later use for evening baths as the sun sets.
To the side is a giant relaxation lounge that I often used for my afternoon book reading. I even managed to read 2 novels whilst I stayed here; as well as home / world-schooled Explorason; wrote a few blogs; plus planned our Asia travels on the internet. Perfect!
And of course I managed to relax. And Explorason designed an aqua-aerobics challenge for us each day – plus swimming up to 40 laps in the tepid water swimming pool. I must say it was the best temperature of any pool I have been in for a long time! (I detest cold pools!)
Our villa was Kusini House (named after the South Monsoon Wind that gently blows through the coconut palm trees), and it was tranquility itself. It is one of seven stunning properties within the group.
We seemed to hang out here in this relaxing entrance lounge area in our secluded hideaway at Kizingoni Beach a fair bit. It was cool with the sea breeze, and opposite was the doorway where the ocean lies beyond. In front of us was the swimming pool and day / sun lounger beds. Perfection in every way.
This was usually where we could be found tasting the latest exquisite cooking for morning or afternoon tea, or “Bities” that Ali the chef had prepared. Sometimes Explorason could be found in the kitchen having a cooking lesson with Ali too (more on that another time!) But he adored Ali, the Chef.
This area also the perfect place for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles too, especially when the staff lit the lamps, and kerosine lanterns decorated the pool and stairs before us.
Really it was indescribable beauty! It is a Swahili home of fusion; where east meets west in their decor, and with the purity and freshness of pure white.
We never really encountered any rain at Kizingoni Beach, apart form the light shower on the first day, so that was lovely. But inside there seemed to be a myriad of places to sit and relax if it ever did rain. All decorated tastefully with Lamu style – one of Arabian and African influence including locally made wooden furniture and adornments.
In fact I loved quite a few locally made items in the house so much, and decided one day we would take a trip to Lamu Town to world-school and shop – but more on that another day.
Everywhere we turned in Kusini House there are places to sit and relax. This was a totally stress free zone.
Kusini House has six staff with varied tasks – to cook our favourite dishes exquisitely; to clean the villa; to prepare and serve our drinks and meals by the pool (or wherever we chose in various locations around the property); to tend the garden often leaving flowers on our bed; to maintain that perfectly temperature (for me) swimming pool; and even do our personal laundry – all included.
And did I mention there is even the captain who would take us in the speed boat for water sports, or a trip to the island capital, or the outing of our choice? One of the staff even took Explorason fishing.
Each evening the bedroom was prepared for me by Samson – with a massive mosquito curtain drawn; the bed turned down beautifully; a fresh flash of cool drinking water; insect spray used; and then the mosquito coils lit. Explorason received the same marvellous service also.
Each day I adored waking to the pretty sound of birds in the coconut palms. I’d pop down to the outside kitchen around 6:00 – 6:30 a.m. and find Daniel or Samson,
and let them know I am ready for my coffee on the balcony. Usually I’d leave Explorason to sleep in and this was my own time. I’ve found throughout our travels (this is our 58th country in over 3 years), I’ve needed this as my own time.
This exclusive island retreat allowed me the time away from the hustle and bustle of the world. I needed time to think. I wanted to reflect on our travels over the last three or so years, and I wanted to understand why Kenya had left such a deep impression on my heart.
I’d watch as donkeys would wander freely on the island, passing in front of the front gate as they moved to eat in the properties either side, and one day even saw them wander in through the front gate.
After my lovely French Press / plunger Kenyan coffee and morning quiet time, I would take a walk on the beach by myself. It was also lovely to have staff I trusted, so my son could remain at the villa safely.
We were on the southern most tip of Lamu Island, with Kusini House backed by dunes and palm trees, and facing a small inlet that filled with seawater as the tide gently came in. It was past this inlet where I would walk to the point where it meets the Indian Ocean and then continue on for a kilometre or so, and look out across to mainland Kenya at the start of my walk.
It was here on these morning and sunset walks that I found some answers to a lot of questions I’d been asking myself. I found that in the total peace I saw life’s purpose clearly one day. I realised what mattered to me, and the direction I wanted our life to take. (More on that later).
I’d return from my morning walk, usually after collecting amazing shells on the beach, to find Explorason happily playing surfing on the upstairs relaxation swing beds above one of the front suites near the pool.
We felt completely safe here at Kizingoni Beach. We were so happy.
Because we stayed a week at Kusini House, there is so much to tell you about our day excursions, and all of the amazing experiences we enjoyed here, so I’ll write more about them separately soon.
Kusini House is just so incredible. You will want to stay here too (and in fact several Facebook friends have asked for more details), so I’ve popped a bit more information below from their website.
Phone: +254 (0)20 388 27 63 / 55