I decided I had spent too long just spinning my wheels in Zanzibar and I knew I needed to make my way up through Kenya anyway and now was as good of a time as any. So I had a choice: I could either take the 40 dollar ferry to Dar Es Salaam (or the 75 dollar plane flight) and then a 12 hour bus to Mombasa. Or I could take the 80 dollar plane flight straight to Mombasa. Hmmmm. I ran some errands in Zanzibar, went to the post office where a Zanzibar local informed me in broken English that Mitt Romney did very well in the debates just 5 hours before, and then 45 minutes later I was in Mombasa.
It turns out, Mombasa is just kind of like Zanzibar but with a bigger city. There’s not too much do except go to the beach. Ummmmm okay. So I spent the first day just hanging out with some other backpackers and the beach and enjoying the absolutely non difference between Mombasa and Zanzibar. There was still an inexplicable Rastafari beach culture, still people selling the same shit – there were a couple more prostitutes on the Mombasa beaches but they were friendly and spoke excellent English.
The next day, I was determined to go downtown and “see the sights.” In Mombasa, this consists of a 30 minute tour of Fort Jesus (pronounced Jee-zuss, not Hay-Soos as the Portuguese surely would have called it) and then just spending as much time as you can occupy wandering around the minute old town. The whole island of Mombasa is only 14 square kilometers and about 1 square kilometer is the infamous old town, famous for it’s extremely narrow labyrinthine streets. And they really do live up the hype. All over the town are giant maps posted of where you are and they suggest a couple walking routes so that you won’t get lost. Getting lost is actually pretty difficult since again, it’s not that big. While you don’t get lost, you never really know exactly where you are. I pride myself on my sense of direction, but more than once did I emerge from some narrow alleyway strewn with stray cats and laundry to find myself making circles.
But really it’s so small I had made a complete loop of the city twice in about an hour and a half. And that’s about everything there is to do in Mombasa. It’s a nice city. I actually really enjoyed the maze like streets, but that’s not where tourists stay – they stay in the nice expat part of town to the north. I ran some errands, got the next book in the Game of Thrones series I’ve been reading and sat on the beach again. Fortunately, Nairobi was coming up and from what I’ve heard, Nairobi could not be more different.