We awoke to our first taste of African drumming – a welcoming committee of dancers and drummers.
Despite all sorts of warnings about safety in this Kenyan city of about 1 million people, we felt no concern wandering in and around the backstreets with another couple (from Toronto). It was dirty and “rough” but by no means were we hassled or accosted.
I had downloaded a walking tour e-book at home, so we followed that most of the time – only deviating when things looked interesting down unmarked alleyways. We started at the prominent Fort Jesus, variously occupied by the Portuguese and the Omanis. Since it was a holiday for Kenyans as well, we enjoyed watching the local families touring the fort grounds and were impressed with how well behaved the children were. Being respectful of the ban on photos of Muslim women, I just had to ask a young mother if I could take a photo of her baby and another young women said she felt “like a star” when I asked to take a picture of her beautifully braided hair.
For part of the time in the city we had an unwanted “guide” but he stayed in the background and simply steered us a bit (most of the time in the right direction). We ventured into a rather minimal fish market and watched a fellow scaling a large frozen fish then wandered down to the “Levens” (British colonial office) and the dock from which, our “guide” told us, slaves were loaded into boats bound for Zanzibar. At one point he .told me that he wasn’t really a tour guide but a security person. We each gave him a dollar when we arrived at the central market.
The market was a huge contrast to the relatively quiet and drab streets. Men and colourfully dressed women competed with small vans and tuk tuks bringing wares to sell from the stalls that lined the narrow streets. The colours, smells and sights were wonderful – spices, coffee and perfumes side by side nick knacks, bras and textiles.