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Itinerary: Watamu, Kenya

In just a few weeks, we’re headed back to Kenya. Already on the itinerary is Watamu, a small town between Mombasa and Malindi.

Watamu is a small town located approximately 105 km north of Mombasa and about 15 km south of Malindi on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It lies on a small headland, between the Blue Lagoon and Watamu Bay. Its main economic activities are tourism and fishing. The town has a population of around 1,900 and it is part of the Malindi District.

The shoreline in the area features white sand beaches and offshore coral formations arranged in different bays and beach: Garoda Beach, Turtle Bay, Blue Lagoon Bay, Watamu Bay, Ocean Breeze, and Kanani Reef and Jacaranda Beach. They are protected as part of the Watamu Marine National Park. The Marine Park is considered one of the best snorkeling and diving areas on the coast of East Africa. In order to assist the managing authorities namely Kenyan Wildlife Service, in protecting the Park, local community groups, the tourist sector and environmental groups have formed a unique organisation, Watamu Marine Association Members of this group are Turtle Bay, Hemingways, Ocean Sports Resort, Arocha Kenya, Lonno Lodge Mida Community Conservation Group, Watamu Boat Operator, Safari Sellers and women’s group.

The name “Watamu” means “sweet people” in Swahili. The name came from the fact that Arab slave traders used to distribute sweets to entice the local population before taking them as slaves.


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Hydroplaning All The Way To New England

Road trips aren’t necessarily my favorite, not when we’re driving for more than two hours, but heading north isn’t as bad because of the scenery from the road. As opposed to driving south. We were headed to Massachusetts for one of Nduku’s friend’s pre-wedding celebration.

The plan was to leave before rush hour started, but Nduku got stuck waiting for a rental car to become available. Note to self: never rent from Dollar. And we ended up with a Ford Focus. Not the worst car in the world, but little did we know we were headed into a monsoon and the Focus wasn’t quite the best car for it.

Until then, though, we had pleasant weather. We made it through Baltimore enjoying the usual view from the highway. There’s skyscrapers, the boats in the harbors and ports, the sports stadiums and the tunnel taking us under the bay.

Exit to Inner Harbor, Baltimore MD


Embarking On Our Journey to Kenya

Traveling abroad with a child is always an adventure in itself. This time we left late at night, planning our flight time around Najwa’s sleep time. We flew Turkish Airlines and though there were some flight attendants who seemed a bit rude, we were pleasantly surprised by the service. Turkish Airlines gives out goodies and offers many meals and snacks during the flight.

The flags at Dulles International Airport were at half-mast observing the tragedy in Connecticut where 20 children were killed among 28 deaths in a shooting at an elementary school. It reminds you how precious life is and how fortunate we are to be able to travel and visit family.

Flag at half-staff


Things To Do In Kenya In Only Two Weeks

As I go from one website to another looking at all the things to do in Kenya, I’m developing analysis paralysis. There’s simply way too many things to do and even two weeks isn’t going to be enough. Especially considering I want to make sure to spend as much time with Nduku’s family as possible not knowing when will be the next time we’ll meet.

The most important goal is for Najwa to meet her family in Kenya. They’ve seen photos, videos and heard stories, but I’m not sure if they know what they’re getting themselves into. Then again, Nduku was their child and I know she wasn’t an easy one!

But in between the family time, I’m hoping to see as much of Kenya as humanly possible. Some of what I want to do I know isn’t going to happen [Turkana anyone?], but there’s still going to be too many wants to fit in the two weeks. Here are just a handful in Nairobi with more things to do coming.


T Minus 10 Days Until We Land in Kenya!

KenyaIn T minus 10 days, the ladies and I will be landing in the beautiful country of Kenya! Nduku will be going home for the first ime since Najwa was born, meaning Najwa will be meeting her maternal grandparents for the first time and I, well, I’m actually speechless.

I have a list of hundreds of places to go, things to do and people to see [Nduku has a large family!]. But if all we did was hangout locally in the Kenyan summer heat, I won’t be disappointed. Najwa meeting her Kenyan family is the priority and entire purpose of the trip.

We’ll be in Kenya for two weeks, leaving next weekend and coming back just before the new year. We got our passports ready, new luggage, money saved, trip to Mombasa booked and I sent an email to Carolina for Kibera to schedule a visit to the clinic in Kibera.

I ordered a used Canon DSLR and 50mm 1.8 Canon lens to record every single moment from here to there. The goal is to blog while I’m there, while the sights, sounds and smells are still fresh in my mind. I think I still have about a hundred photos with stories from the Romania trip I still need to blog about. And another hundred from the Dubai trip.

This trip, though, should get its own blog considering how much content I’ll be shooting, how many people I’ll be meeting, their stories, their lives which they’ll be welcoming me into and of course all the unexpected things a two-year-old does that makes any trip more than memorable.

Flight Safety Brought To You By The Hobbits on Air New Zealand

Usually when airlines are going over the flight safety demonstrations, I ignore them. Partly because I’ve heard it all before; partly because if the plane is going down, I don’t have the confidence that I’ll remember anything more than the seat could be used as a flotation device. And that’s because of the classic International Lover by Prince.

When a co-worker and I recently went to Utah on a recruiting trip, Delta’s flight safety video added enough humor that I watched some of it. It was a refresher to put on my oxygen mask first before anyone else’s, though I doubt anyone would be as calm as the people in the video if it truly was an emergency.

But then Air New Zealand, taking advantage of The Hobbit being filmed there, came out with this:


On Our Way To and Our First Day in Bucharest, Romania

One of the last places I’d ever think I’d visit would be Bucharest. All I knew was that it’s a former Soviet bloc country, it had a brutal dictator after the fall of the USSR and Dracula’s castle is somewhere in the country.


Getting Some Bacon on the Way to Dubai

On the way to Dubai to visit Nduku’s sister and her family, we had a quick layover at Heathrow in London, England [or is it the UK? Or Great Britain?]. We grabbed breakfast at a place called Giraffe, which as pretty cool. Our waitress reminded me of Minnie Driver, part her look, part her accent.

I have no idea what time it was at the airport or inside my head, but whatever was on the menu just didn’t seem to be what I wanted. Everything sounded fancy. So I asked if I could just get some scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon. Of course they didn’t have Mountain Dew so I settled for water.

While we waited, the waitress brought out some Giraffes, naturally it being the name of the place.

Najwa at Giraffe


Just Getting to Dubai Was an Adventure in Itself

It’s been years since my last international flight. Pre-9/11 actually. Back then, though, the traveling abroad was back and forth to Germany where my dad was stationed at Karl Schulz Kaserne in Bremerhaven, of what was then called West Germany. I barely remember the flight back to the states, but I do remember that we didn’t go through layers and layers of security.


If You Need a Place to Stay in New York: Hotel 17

Hotel 17 in New YorkSince we’re talking about hotels, let me share about the one where we stayed in New York for the Prince concert. At first we [Nduku, Najwa, Mike and Jenny] were going to stay in one using an employee discount Joanne English, a friend of mine, was offering. The issue, being a week before Christmas, the only ones available were not in Manhattan. The plan was to get a room at a hotel on Staten Island until my homeboy Chad explained the only way to get there was by ferry. Then we considered New Jersey, but we didn’t want to keep paying the tolls and fighting the traffic.

Eventually, we went the William Shatner route and took for a spin. Amazingly, we found a hotel a few blocks from Union Square that was in line with our price. Of course, when you’re paying $150 for a night in New York, you have to wonder what the catch is. With bed bugs being the latest craze in travel [and full body x-ray machines to get on a plane], we took to the reviews and felt pretty comfortable with this option.