Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Did it hurt your mind?

Hey guys.

I know its been awhile again, I've just had so much happen lately. I haven't even written it all in my journal yet. But, I have to start writing about everything now cause otherwise I will get too far ahead to effectively retroactively story tell.

Okay, I'm going to start with the day Steve left. It was April 9th, and Steve had to get back to the realm of peace (Dar es Salaam) for his flight to Australia. I saw him to the bus, then I went back to our hotel so I could pack. I had seen no other Mzungus (white tourists) in Mombasa, and so I decided to head into the town centre to find a different hotel. Like a backpackers hostel or something, where I could hopefully make some friends. Using the map in my Lonely Planet guide, I headed in the direction I thought was town with a great big pack on and a small shoulder bag underneath the shoulder straps. I went the wrong way and ended up in an area of town I now know as Chuda, on the bank of an inlet that extends around Mombasa kind of like the one in Vancouver. I asked for directions and a man pointed me in the direction I had been walking. I kept going and came across a path with a sign that said beach. I decided I would go have a look at the beach and stop for a drink cause I was hot and tired.

I'm realizing right now that I really don't want to talk about this, and I'm procrastinating with all the descriptions. I'm going to cut to the chase.

I got down the path to the brink of a leafy ravine that let down to the water, and I guy came up behind me. He introduced himself and showed me his identity card. Unusual, but whatever. He tried to "help" me with my bag, but I told him no, I was fine. He tried to get into my shoulder bag and I pulled it away glaring at him and telling him no, that was not okay and I want you to let go of my bag. He was blocking my way back, so I pulled away and walked along the edge of the bank and down into the ravine. Stupid, but I honestly wasn't scared until I started hearing him follow me through the bushes. He cut me off with a glass bottle in his hand and said in a harsh voice "I can kill you anytime!" He was right in front of me, and I couldn't do anything cause I had this huge bag on my back. I couldn't even give him my little bag cause it was tucked under the straps, and didn't want to take my attention away from him long enough to take it off. Acting on fear, I grabbed his arm with the bottle and tried to hit him with my other fist, but I had no strength with that stupid bag. We struggled, and he threated to hit me with the bottle. I couldn't think to do anything but protect myself, and I couldn't really even do that. He hit me with the bottle on theside of the head. Hard. I still can't open my mouth all the way two weeks later. I grabbed the bottle and tucked it under my arm and held it there. The man took my shoudl bag and ripped it off, then ran away up the ravine.

Angry and scared, well, mostly scared, I screamed at the top of my lungs. Several times. A confused minute later, a herd of guys who had been playing soccer on the beach came running up. They hardly saw me, but ran past to catch the thief. They caught him and beat him up and gave me back my bag. The last I saw of the thug, he was spitting blood, struggling against an angry circle of fit African soccer-players. Vigilante justice is common here.

One guy, Moses, took me back into town. I was a wreck, chaking with adrenalin and a bloody lump on the side of my head, and needed all the help I could get. He was awesome and comforting and has since become a good friend of mine. It wasn't until I checked into my hotel and opened my ruined shoulder bag that I realized my camera was missing. I think that is a story for the next post. Not a good one really, but I don't want to tell it now.

A couple of days ago, I was telling someone I had gotten mugged on my second day in Mombasa and he asked me if it had hurt my mind. It took a minute for me to realize that he meant had it hurt me emotionally. I was definately unnecessarily afraid of even leaving my hotel room for a couple of days, but I phoned to my boyfriend, Ian, who of course had the right thing to say, and forced myself to get out of the hotel for meals and stuff and pretty soon I was back to normal. I'm still more careful than I was before, which is not a bad thing, but I've also made some great local friends and I know that there are a lot of really great people here in Mombasa too. Far more great people in fact than bad ones.

Thanks for getting through all this if you did. If not, I'm glad I finally got it down, anyway. I don't like reliving bad things, but it helps to get them out of your system. Plus it was an important milestone on my trip and worth remembering however bad it was.

I'll try and write again in a few days. A lot more has happened since then.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I suppose I better stop the suspense, but before I do, see if you can guess where Steve and I are now:
A week ago, we spent a few days in a absolutely beautiful canyon, with bright green grass and hundred foot high walls of stone, sprawling yellow fever trees and rolling hills. The antelope and zebras grazed in the vast fields, and buffalo eyed us from the trees. giraffes stopped their leaf-munching to stare at us and ran away gracefully as we got close. In the early morning, a baboon visited our tent to see about sharing some food. The second day, we explored a volcanic gorge, which we had to navigate carefully as it had flooded recently, and we had to watch out for poisonous green Mamba snakes. We found a great spot and spent a couple of hours bouldering.
A few days after that adventure, we took a 7-hour bus ride to the East Coast where we spent a few days on a small mostly Muslim island where there are no cars, only donkeys for transportation. The white stone buildings are carved in intricate archways and wide open terraces and the streets are gravel and cobblestone. We took a Dhow (a fishing sailboat seen often along the African coast) to a remote beach where we camped over night, cooking over a fire, swimminng and lying on the beach trying to fend off the sand flies. At night, a guard on patrol came and chatted with us. He was a Somali man, and had grown up in the bush. He commented on our freeze-dried camping food, saying only soldiers ate that kind of thing. We took the Dhow boat back the next day and spent the evening wandering the island, and drinking tea on the dock. Early this morning, we ferried back to the mainland and bussed down the coast to a city in the South East from which Steve will shortly be leaving.
Any guesses?

I'm in Kenya. The park is called Hell's Gate National Park, the Island is Lamu, and we are currently in Mombasa. Good job if you got it!
I was nervous to let the truth out, because I didn't want anyone to worry unneccesarily. The truth of the matter is, though that the violence is over, and especially in the places we\ve been staying. In fact, other tourists have been laughing at me when I've expressed worry about coming here.
We decided to go because Steve had about 10 days between the end of his internship at AMREF in Dar es Salaam and his flight home, and it was the only country we could get to cheaply and quickly in order to have enough time to see some of the sights before he had to be back for his flight. He'll be leaving in just a couple of days and I am sorry to see him go. I'll have to find some new travelling companions.
Actually, I am currently looking for short term volunteer opportunities. I'm enjoying travelling, but I want to give back as well. And it's been six weeks already. I have a few leads, but I'll say more when things are solidified. I might be doing some pretty neat stuff.

As for pictures, I have some good ones. I got a camera from home in the mail to replace the one I lost hurray(. It'll have to be later that I post them, though, cause the internet is just too slow! I've already spent an hour just on this. Hopefully I'll have time in the next few days.

Talk to you all soon!