Lamu Kenya, A sunny, Slower Paced, Colourful, Oceanside Existence a Place I call Home
Home is a strange word for me. The very idea of a singular place in the world, from which you come from and still feel most at ease, does not seem realistic. I have so many homes. Mombasa was my first — the only place I’ll call my hometown, but there have been many homes since then. Traveling around the world has turned to a hobby and I only took it as a learning phrase of life when I had to understanding how to cope with the outside world and be happy.
Despite this, it is the place of my birth, and the very spirit of the city is something that feels ingrained in my own. A sunny, slower paced, colourful, oceanside existence. Returning to this home feels like a giant exhale, relief slowly slipping through my nervous system and my body no longer disoriented with the (my) ocean in sight.
This relief has as much to do with familiarity and family as it does with the alignment between my internal and external worlds. This is the one place that I am unequivocally not other. A stark contrast to the places in which I mostly spend my time. It is clear to me that despite the distance and time between us, I feel no confusion about my sense of place in these spaces, moving comfortably between sea and city, between people and homes, as if they are my own and I am theirs.
I grew up dipping in and out of the Indian ocean. A weekend (and sometimes daily) tradition beginning with my grandfather and my mother’s siblings. My ocean is dark blue and gentle on its best days and is foamy, choppy and green on its worst. It is always warm. There is deep respect for this force far more powerful than I, or all of us combined, will ever be. It is here that I feel most at home – bobbing between waves, somewhere between joy and fear.
The city itself is a collection of colonial architecture and new glass buildings. It sits atop hills and in valleys typical of this spectacular landscape. It is overwhelmingly green, bougainvillea trees rambling up the sides of buildings and palm trees standing between houses and shacks alike. There are monkeys that sometimes steal the fruit. It is a hardworking city – something about the industriousness of the port spills over and the rhythm of the city is governed by the flows of the work day. When I think of south coast, I often recall moving images of people entering and exiting taxis, headed between work and home. There was a time that my brother, mother and I would head to the beach before or after the school and work day. These things feel synched in my mind – a central connection between the rhythm of the city and the ebb and flow of the tides.
Now, when I return to this home, I am curious about what’s new to eat, to see, to do, but I also feel contentment for days with no agenda. I am the least like the traveler I think I am when I am here, happy to sit oceanside and watch the world go by. My favorite activity is rather passive, tumbling out of bed at dawn, grabbing some coffee, and watching the sunrise with my family and a camera in tow. There are such different types of people here at that time of day. Yet we are all the same in those moments, the early morning fishermen, surfers, worshippers and swimmers, none of us are different before this ocean, and for those few hours, we all belong