Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Resort Life

Greetings from Mombassa, off the coast of Kenya. After a few extremely busy weeks at work, I welcomed a trip to the beach. I flew out Friday morning, landed at the airport and was not only greeted by my hotel driver, but also with a blast of hot, muggy air. I’ve been spoiled in Nairobi because although it’s warm and sunny, it’s almost always breezy and never humid.

We drove through the city of Mombassa, a port town most recently in the news due to the Somali pirates who have been hijacking ships just outside the port’s entrance. The city appeared to be no different than many of the other cities in which I’ve traveled. Mombassa is the main entry point for goods shipped from all over the world, supplying many inland countries such as Uganda and Rwanda with food, fuel and everything in between. Mombassa Road, stretching between the port and Kampala, is heavily trafficked with tractor trailers and is easily one of the bumpiest, most poorly paved roads on which I’ve ever been.

After a short ride, I arrived at the Serena resort - a 5-star property directly on the beach. The hotel is styled in traditional Swahili style - arched doorways, stained glass windows and fountained courtyards at every turn. The view across the property was magnificent - first I noticed the pool and palm trees, then the rolling green lawn dotted with chaise lounges and finally, the turquoise water of the Indian Ocean.

Things were going well until I was shown our room. I was traveling with two friends, and we had planned on sharing a triple room. Unfortunately, the hotel had a different view than we had of what a triple was. The room was a small double in which a third twin bed had been placed. One couldn’t walk from one end to the other without banging into either a wall or a bed. Even though we had received an amazingly low room rate through our Nairobi cab driver/travel agent/fixer, this was entirely unacceptable. After making a fuss, we were finally shown to a new room - a two-room suite with ocean views. This was much more to our liking!

I’d like to say that we spent the weekend windsurfing, diving, riding glass-bottomed boats and taking advantage of all that the resort offered, but the furthest we ventured was to the beach and back to the pool. We were there to relax and felt that we had over-exerted when a stroll on the beach turned into a jog as we tried to avoid the beach boys who follow tourists and attempt to sell their wares.

The Serena lived up to its reputation with attentive service and terrific food. The people-watching was fascinating, too, as we were likely some of the youngest guests there by a good 20 years. Most of the guests appeared to be wealthy Europeans who make regular visits to the resort - a very appealing lifestyle!

Unfortunately, my peek into how the other one percent lives came to an end Monday night when we returned to Nairobi. I have a little over two weeks of work left before I return to the states. Hopefully, my tan will last.


Sara said...

I can't wait for you to come home Marge, I miss you!

Meet Melida said...

Finally, a trip that turned out the way you expected!!!!

The Life and Times of Donovan said...

Beautiful resort...how much would that cost in US $$?.....How many miles had those camels walked?....looking forward to your return...

Greg said...

Man that place looks nice
Glad to hear u had a good time