Lamu port
Port of Lamu

I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked in Kenya.  I had given it a short shrift because of negative commentary from other travellers, though I should have learned long ago not to give that kind of word of mouth more weight than it deserves.  Kenya is ethnically, religiously, topographically, and economically diverse, a real African melting pot.  You have muslim swahili arabs in the east, maasai tribespeople in the south, poor bantu farmers in the west, feral nilo-silotic tribespeople in the inaccessible north as freaky as any you'll find in the world, worldly yuppie businessmen in Nairobi, and with a smattering of Indians and Europeans in the big cities to boot. It controls supply lanes inland to all of landlocked central Africa, dominates East African manufacturing and finance, and runs the most important port on the entire east coast of Africa.  Only corruption and incompetent governance it seems has kept Kenya from being the economic engine for all of black Africa.  Impoverished migrants from all over Africa are drawn to the posh affluence of  Nairobi's central business district with its glass skyscrapers like ants are drawn to bread crumbs.  Or perhaps I should say like mosquitoes are drawn to blood.  The soaring crime rate has scared away travellers and forced those who must pass through Nairobi to hunker down in secured villas like in Johannesburg.  I heard of a couple of Japanese backpackers who were mugged and robbed in central Nairobi in the early evening while I was there.   What the crime capitals Johannesburg and Nairobi have in common is a stark juxtaposition of highly visible and wealthy bourgeois class, with a penniless impoverished class living in the same city.  This is the motor that generates crime.  In poor countries where nobody has anything, like in Niger or Malawi, there is almost no crime.  In countries where almost everybody has money, like in Norway or Japan, there is almost no crime.  But put the two together and the bullets fly.

The island of Lamu on the Swahili coast is probably the star cultural attraction of Kenya, combined with wildlife safaris and Mount Kenya for the trekkers.  Lamu's a cozier, more intimate and languid version of Zanzibar.  Lamu may be more African and less arabian than Zanzibar, but no less conservative in its muslim values.

Lamu turtles
These turtles are probably too bored in Lamu to do anything else, but clearly they are not muslim in the modesty of their ways.

donkey phone lamu
As for this Lamu donkey rubbing up against the telephone booth...well, let's not go there...

Gede ruins
The ruins of Gede in the jungle between the beach resort town of Malindi and the coastal port hub of Mombasa was pretty impressive.   It's probably the most complex ancient city I've seen built by prehistoric Bantu Africans, but nothing is really known about its origins, so it could also have been built by dolphins or aliens for all we know.  I would have lingered longer but I was suddenly attacked by a legion of aggressive biting ants that had crawled into my pants and into my underwear so I had to run to the nearest bathroom, rip off my pants and one by one pluck out each individual ant that had burrowed its head into my flesh.  I have to concur about Kenya being a dangerous country!

Mombasa tusks
The famous tusks of Mombasa, built to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's visit in 1952.  It's a little hokey but I like them. Anything to add character to what are often bland looking cities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mombasa hindus
The Indian diaspora is present and well in Mombasa, the bustling multicultural port city reminiscent of Dar es Salaam. Indian hindus, muslims, sikhs and jains all have their own temples  here, not to mention places of worship for every denomination of all the other muslims and christians and God knows whats living in Mombasa.  I'm not sure if I've ever seen a more openly and religiously diverse city as Mombasa.  Even in London or New York you don't see such intimate intermingling within neighbourhoods.

Mombasa houses
I often don't find British colonial architecture very thrilling in comparison to their Spanish or Portuguese colonial rivals (for example), but in Mombasa, it blends in well with the surroundings and neighbouring buildings.  I found Mombasa quite an enjoyable city to walk around in.