‘Time is relative’ can be easily explained. Remember how in school during a hot afternoon session of double Math or Physics you were sure the teacher had sold his soul to the devil and in exchange now had the power to stop time? Seconds became minutes and minutes became hours, the clock might as well have been coated in molasses. But during Christmas and the December holidays the month to whizzed by and before you knew it you were back in the black hole of your classroom that sucked all the joy that life had to offer? For me that explains it perfectly.
I’ve gone on this absurd tangent because I found one of the good places. Where time seems to stretch and slooow right down; it’s called KIzingo.
Kizingo is located waaay at the opposite end of Lamu Island at its southern-most point, past Matandoni near Kipungani Village. From Manda Airport (I told you about flights in my previous article) it’s about a 30 min boat ride at Ksh 3000 return which is the only way to get there unless you’ve always fancied a 15km walk across the dunes from Lamu town.
This part of the island is extremely quiet even by Lamu standards and a totally different vibe from my stay in Shela, no shops, no people, no boats whizzing up and down. It’s just you and the beach, so no, there is no “popping round to the shops for an ice-cream”.
Kizingo can be defined by many tourism buzzwords, ‘barefoot chic’, ‘no news, no shoes resort’ but I try and stay away from these terms as they don’t really do Kizingo’s identity justice.
The lodge(?) is made up of a dining area, a small lounge and bar and accommodation is in 8 bandas done up makuti style, blending as much as is possible into its surroundings and not distracting from the natural beauty of the location. I love this simple, understated style, out becomes in and in becomes out if you know what I mean.
Reading and rest here go hand in hand like jam and bread. Have you ever woken up, gone for a walk, had breakfast, read 3 chapters and had a morning nap only to wake up and find it’s only 10am? Such a bizarre feeling.
Tired on hanging out on the swing bed? Each room has some deck chair a few steps away for a ‘change’.
This is as busy as it gets here, look at all of that one person on the beach. Ugh.
Salim: Goodmorning! I have brought your tea.
Salim: Okay, have a good day!
I have to pry myself from this zombie-like state and attempt to stem my regression. It’s The Muse’s birthday, maybe this year I should make more effort than the usual ‘toilet roll jewellery box’. I organize a picnic lunch across the bay on the mainland and try my hand at line fishing with extreme success.
Despite the fancy meal we’ve carried from Kizingo, we don’t end up eating it. We barter some of our fresh fish with the sand harvesters we find at the picnic spot, they trade us some ugali. Simplicity always wins out for me.
We spend the afternoon pottering around the mainland. Thats Kizingo you can see across the bay, it’s 5min boatride between the two.
Back at base the status quo remains.
Everyday (for one us) starts with a day on the beach, there’s always company.
We have meals at the the main lodge….
….food is always simple and very well done. Does the fact that they have a Cookwell Jiko have something to do with it? A small gripe though, not a big fan of the ‘surprise’ kind of menu where you don’t know what your next meal is going to be.
Alex is always on hand to hypnotize you into having a drink, not that I need much convincing. I think this jamaa needs an article all to himself. There are people who naturally belong in the hospitality industry and he’s one of them, oh the stories he has to tell, always delivered with his infectious laugh.
The sunset beach walks contain lots of hand holding, exchanged glances and silly grins. I think someone enjoyed the picnic…..
Is it hard to imagine that you could be here? It shouldn’t be.
I am now too deep in this. The reality of daily life is a distant memory, there is just us and this country we call home.
Behind The Scenes
A large part of Kizingo’s charm is the people who work there. Thanks to Dion who travelled all the way down to Lamu to meet the only 2 guests when he could have been elsewhere, also helps that he’s good fun at the bar. Hard to find that kind of service but I’m convinced that’s just how Kizingo rolls.
My visit to Kizingo leaves me with a lot of time for introspection. When will Kenyan tourism get back on their feet? Will hotels in Lamu begin to see the value of local tourism away from their traditional markets? Do they even want to? How can I better bridge the mystery that exists between local tourism consumers and providers? Does Alex ever stop laughing?
Sometimes questions like these do more harm then good. For now I am content to claim back some of the time that Mr. Ndirangu stole from me on those sticky school afternoons, looking at tables, fractions and equations that I still do not understand to this very day. It’s a small victory but a victory none the less.
If you too want to harness the power of time, contact Kizingo on their website (unfortunately could use some work) Facebook page, Instagram or just call Dion directly on +254 -733-954770. We paid Ksh 10,000pppn as a special resident rate although that will vary depending on the season. There is also a cool blog post on Kizingo by ThisLifeInTrips. Be sure to check it out.