We arise at 8 for a hearty buffet breakfast at the Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel dining room. I hesitate when a conservatively dressed Muslim cook asks if I would like ham in my omelet. A vervet monkey jumps onto my plate, steals my breakfast roll, and is gone in a flash.
We take a boat ride out to the reef, which is about a mile off shore. The breakers on the reef appear to be enormous, but the beach behind the reef is as calm as the Chesapeake Bay. The water is 3-10 feet deep, just perfect for snorkeling. The SCUBA divers look a little silly with all the unnecessary equipment, but it is a good place to learn. The reef is fairly healthy, with plenty of colorful fish, although the coral has been damaged by careless tourists. Many of the coral formations are anvil shaped, with hundreds of fish hiding beneath the projecting ledges.
Returning to the hotel, we see one of our doctors sharing the gospel with two of the beach vendors. Just like the Maasai women who kept reaching their arms into our van to make a sale, these hucksters made it impossible to enjoy a walk on the beach before dark. “My friend, my friend” they would cry out, “why do you not want to talk to me?” Hotel security kept them off of the grass, but the sand is apparently public property. My colleague turns it around on them, agreeing to make a few purchases while sharing the Gospel. He talks to them for nearly an hour, whereupon they respond, “Now what will you buy?” God only knows if he has planted a seed in fertile soil.
After our swim, we take a 20 minute camel ride along the beach. George is a very healthy and fortunate camel, explains his handler Abraham, for he walked for two months in a caravan from Somalia, and was the only one of his herd who was spared from the butcher shop. I never saw camel steak on the menu, but it must be quite popular here. Camels are calm, sure-footed animals with a pleasant demeanor, but the to-and-fro motion of the saddle when walking would be exhausting on any lengthy safari.
Michael and I enjoy lunch on the patio, and then he destroys me in a game of tennis. I still maintain that it was just because I was playing in my slip-on Murrells and bathing trunks. He claims his borrowed racket was strung too loose. I catch up on Emails while Michael joins the evening game of volleyball.
After dinner, we have a lively outdoor acrobatic performance. Sitting at the first table, we can almost feel the heat as the contortionist limbos under a 6 inch high flaming bar. Leaping, dancing and stacking themselves in pyramids, the performers maintain high energy until the delicate chair balancing act, in which the acrobat performs handstands 20 feet above the tile floor on a stack of chairs balanced on four beer bottles resting on an ordinary hotel patio table. The show accelerates again to a climax with an inverted pyramid – five men standing atop one.
It has been quite a different day.