After spending a night in Bamburi, the ladies and I headed north to Watamu for Temple Point Resort. The resort is essentially located in the Watamu Marine National Park, between the calm waters of Mida Creek and the Indian Ocean.
The resort is simply amazing. A lot of open air space, pool table, a couple of swimming pools and a hot tub, volleyball court, archery, gym, plenty of sitting space out in the ocean breeze, bar, gazebo on the water, private beach and so on. The grounds are well taken care of, beautifully decorated with an earthy atmosphere, and when I say open air, I mean no doors, no gates, no way to close shop at night. It’s just one big giant open air structure.
Our room was great. Very spacious, waterfront view, huge balcony and air conditioning because it was hot out there. Interestingly, the key chain is this piece of wood with the room number, which I thought was just a cool little key chain. But you have to stick it in this contraption in the wall [I should’ve took pictures because all that was confusing] to make the a/c turn on. No one told us, but my need for cool air caused me to start sticking stuff wherever to get it to turn on.
It’s designed like that to keep people like me from letting the a/c run the entire time we’re there, whether in the room or not. Smart. Fortunately, the way the villas are designed, the room actually stayed relatively cool.
When we got there, we were greeted by Pili Said. When she and Nduku first started talking, I ignored her, thinking she was another guest at the resort. She was chatty, invited Nduku and Najwa to sit with her and was just too damn smiley to be an employee.
But that’s her job. She’s there to make everyone feel at home. She [and two others on staff] organizes events, games, activities, entertains the kids and simply make you feel welcomed. We were there just after a large group of conference attendees were leaving and just before another large group was coming so she had more than enough time to just hang out with us.
Really nice person. Pili talked a bit about the resort, its history and about the surrounding area, then she gave us a tour of the grounds.
The resort sits right on Mida Creek, the heart of Watamu National Marine Park. Unlike facing the ocean, the creek is very tranquil, serene. You can even hop on a boat and just ride out to the ocean if you want, or go deeper into the marine park [we didn’t] to see its exotic animals and wildlife.
As we were touring the grounds, there were these monkeys all over the place by the water. Dozens of them. With these really big red eyes that made them look a lot of more menacing than they really were. Pili explained that the monkeys are friendly with women and children but run from the men since it’s the male staff who shoo them away with “catapults,” better known in America as slingshots.
Pili then took us out to the private beaches. White sands. Crystal clear waters. Calm, easy ocean breeze. Unlike many of the other resorts in Watamu that share the shorelines and can get a bit crowded, this beach is accessible only through Temple Point Resort, making it much more intimate and peaceful.
Najwa, not yet in her swimming clothes, promptly got into the water.
The resort used to be a sultan’s palace back in the day. On the grounds, near the beaches at the point where the creek and ocean meet, still stands remnants of a temple — hence Temple Point Resort?
And then when the sun started to set, it really is a gorgeous [and I hate using the word gorgeous but it fits] sight to see.
I always like walking around resorts at night, see how different the place looks when the sun goes down. It’s so much more peaceful, the pathway lights giving the grounds a completely different feel.
While walking around around midnight, one of the security guards, Abdi, approached me — part making sure I was all right, part making sure I wasn’t a terrorist. Really cool guy. After making sure all was good, he started to blend back into wherever he came from, but I invited him to talk. He’s from Garissa, here for the job, and we talked a bit about family [his wife and three kids are back in Garissa], the violence, the area in general, and of course, he wanted to know about living in America.
It’s funny how surprised people are when I tell them that there is still racism in America. Apparently, not everyone in the world is aware of what happened in Ferguson.
Watamu isn’t that far away from violence north of the town. There’s tribal conflict as well as Al-Shabaab who’s still smarting over Kenya siding with America in fighting terrorism. There were advisories warning westerners about the area, but there wasn’t even a hint of trouble in the area. And if there was, the resort was well guarded.
Katana, the bartender, also told us about a group called Watamu Against Crime. It was started by non-Kenyans [i.e. the white people] in response to local crime. They pooled their money together, worked with and hired the locals, started coordinating security, even setting up a 24-hour phone number to call since there isn’t a 911 emergency phone number to call.
Katana explained how when they first started 3 years ago, people were skeptical, but over time have grown to not only respect them, but support them and their mission. They’re not government, military, mafia or even security experts. Just concerned citizens who have made Watamu home and who are using their money and influence to make it a safe place to live and visit.
You can see their presence and prevalence. On the gates and entrances to the many resorts and businesses, there are signs for W.A.C. letting people know that it’s under the watch of the organization and its phone number in case you need help.
Overall, amazing place. And we were just getting started.