Want to experience terror? Riding in a fisherman’s dug-out canoe beats bungee-jumping!
You haven’t lived if you haven’t sunk your toes in the white sands and gulped for breath in the ocean surf on the Kenyan coast.
People tell awesome stories of their coastal retreats, albeit generously peppered with hyperbole.
This story is neither awesome, nor laced with additives. My first solo trip had lots of fun moments, but Son of Adam is wired to record the outrageous. Normal is boring.
Well, cue in my first semester break. I decided to backpack to the coast. Backpacking is the fall-back option for travel enthusiasts on a budget. None of my mates was crazy enough to join, so I travelled solo.
I had pored over a tourist map detailing exquisite spots to visit. I couldn’t miss Wasini Island.
Wasini Island is an idyllic tourist spot on South Coast. It’s the far most island, and a quick perusal online described a land of positivity, friendly people with a mixed heritage.
Wasini is a few nautical miles to Tanzania, or Zanzibar. That’s why ‘mixed heritage’ tagged at my heart strings – I’ve always liked to meet people from these lands.
A shoestring budget notwithstanding, I landed at Shimoni. This is a small town, that’s serves the island. There’s a dock, with all sorts of boats – fishing and passenger boats to the island and beyond, tanker boats, and other sorts.
The locals are drawn like magnets to visitors. A lone, backpacking student got noticed in an heartbeat. Even less to recognise a budget-traveller!
The boat fees to cross to the island vary. I chose the lowest. Turns out that I chose a dug-out canoe. This was a fisherman from the island who had delivered his day’s catch to the mainland.
My prior sailing experience was limited to a few rounds in a boat at Uhuru Park. I was then five or six, on a family day out over Christmas. It wasn’t exactly sailing, those boats have pedals!
The canoe is long and narrow. A lot like the biblical path to heaven. We squeezed in, the fisherman and I facing each other on opposite ends.
He hands me a container, a jerry can cut in half. Says nothing. He grabs a pair of oars and pushes off the pier.
When you make a bad decision, the universe is ruthless. I realised, immediately. The canoe started filling up. Am trying to lift up my back pack. The fisherman points at the half-container with his lips. He’s rowing.
I have to keep throwing out water! My backpack is getting wet! The sea is tossing us in the air like balloons! Am literally inches away from the water!
It was dusk – at some point all I could see were tiny dots of light across an endless expanse of black water!
If you’ve watched ocean documentaries, then you’d know the horrors that abound in the deep sea.
I was shaking. Half from the chilling cold, and the other from the fear of the unknown! I found myself praying – even calling on my ancestral gods!
Some how, we made it across. I could have voted that nonchalant fisherman the greatest sea captain that ever sailed.
In retrospect, I discovered that in times of uncertainty, my default setting is deeply religious. Thankfully, the people and the general ambience on Wasini Island gifted me an incredible holiday.
There’s a choice of pocket friendly options available for travel enthusiasts – courtesy of a partnership between travel magnates Bonfire Adventures and Co-op Bank.
Co-op Bank has negotiated a deal for clients wishing to book a Easter holiday retreat through Bonfire Adventures.
There’s a major discount up for grabs if payments are done with Co-op ATM cards, Co-op Credit cards or Co-op pre-paid cards.
Bonfire Adventures have an amazing array of travel packages covering the Kenyan coasts in its entirety. All exclusive resorts and spots from the North to the South Coast, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime Easter offer.
To learn more about the Co-op Easter travel discounts, click here.