|Day 16: 17 July 2010: Gone Fishing in Lamu
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
We breakfasted early to be ready to meet dhow captain Ahmed and his son Mohammed for a fishing trip. We embarked on the venture with some trepidation, as it was arranged by Abdullah Ali, marginally less surly cousin to Abdul/FBI, also related to the hotel proprietors. To our relief, the dhow captain had been fashioned along the lines of Hemingway with a strong dash of irreverent humour. “It’s all in the hands of God,” he told us, pointing at the pregnant clouds above. They had already emptied their contents on us liberally earlier. “The farmers pray for rain while you wish for sun,” he twinkled, “and fortunately for the crops, God isn’t only for white people.”
It seemed that God didn’t favour white people when it came to fishing, either. At the first place we dropped anchor, Mohammed caught three snapper and a grouper in quick succession. His father followed this up with a snapper. Mohammed finished off the run with another snapper. A long dry spell followed. I drowsed happilyin the sun, following Ahmed’s example and wrapping my line around my big toe. I recast my shrimp occasionally. We moved twice to try and improve our luck, but it appeared to grace only the actual fishermen. They landed a couple more snapper and finally the big prize - a sting ray the size of a dinner platter. Ahmed wrestled it aboard and quickly chopped off its tail, disarming it. We wouldn’t eat this in our barbecue since it must be made into curry to be appreciated properly, he claimed. We didn’t mind, anticipating the small and sweet snapper.
Putting up a fight
Fisherman wins this round
We gave up at mid-day and Ahmed sailed to Manda Beach. He and Mohammed found a shady acacia under which to build a barbecue. While they gutted and cleaned the fish, Duncan and Liz stretched out on the beach. The bloke & I went for a quick dip in the choppy shallows before wandering down the beach to play in the tide pools. He made futile attempts to catch small zebra-stripped fish in his straw hat while I watched tiny crabs filtering sand through their jaws, leaving behind balls of sand in random patterns on the beach.
Ahmed’s boat on the left
Ahmed called us to the barbecue. We sat on a tarpaulin and ate our salted-and-limed grilled fish from metal dishes with roughly chopped salad in chapatis. It was my favourite meal of the trip. Chunks of papaya, banana and orange followed. Patting our sated bellies, we toddled back to the boat for the return journey to Shela and the balcony of sloth and slumber.
Duncan and Liz walked to Lamu Town to do some more shopping while the bloke and I opted to do nothing. When the others returned, we used our remaining juice and sprite to make afternoon cocktails out of the remaining rum and vodka. Eventually, we mustered the gumption to go to the Stop Over Cafe for dinner. I ended up having to swap meals with the bloke as my (tamarind?) allergy manifested quickly enough for me to realize that if I ate more than the couple of bites of my dish, I’d be choking on my tongue.
Our meal was accompanied by a couple of local cats. Feeling pangs of longing for my boys, I fed them tidbits from my plate despite despairing eye-rolls from the bloke. I got my comeuppance, though. The big black-and-white mama-cat I’d been feeding got her claws in my thumb when she tried to grab a piece of fish from my fingers.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed a celebration for the new football ground that had been opened that afternoon. This explained why we heard that Shakira world cup song 14 times that afternoon. (That isn’t an exaggeration. I counted. It had been taped off the radio, so it cut into a speech at the start and mixed into another song at the end each time it was rewound and played again.) The party looked interesting, but as usual there were no women in sight. This observation immediately made me disinclined to stay longer. I was glad when the others showed no sign of wishing to linger. We returned to the hotel to polish off the vodka instead.