Ali’s Family in Lamu

Wednesday 0640
I’ve woken up properly now, with the kids getting ready for school, having been half awake from the calls to prayer anyway. Not to mention eaten alive by mossies last night.
We arrived here on Lamu Island at about 1730 yesterday on a very fast outboard driven boat. The driver took off so fast I was totally swamped from head to foot. I was fairly annoyed, since I have so few clothes and was about to meet Ali’s family, but had to swallow it. I’d have liked a shower and to change before meeting them but his father was right there on the beach waiting, and led us straight to the rest of the family.
It was every bit as heart breaking as I expected. Everyone weeping and holding each other and Samira. I was led to Ali’s wife and mother, feeling dreadful for them and somehow responsible. All I could say was “pole sana” (sorry) over and over.
Chaps rescued me, bless him, getting one of Ali’s daughters to show me to the shower. When I’d washed of the day’s dust and seawater and donned a clean set of proper Muslim dress, I felt better and joined the women and children again. Ali’s young son looks just like him and it nearly undid me. Then Chaps took me out to meet his Dad, brother and nephews. His poor father is just devastated and I found that harder to see than the open distress of the women. His brother took us upstairs to eat and Mary and Bea showed up. We sat round the table talking it over. Quite a few of the family have some English so it’s easier to communicate than I expected. They’re a lovely family with a nice home and very caring.
BTW, don’t be tempted to imagine a house like we have in NZ. Homes are very simple here, without any of the conveniences we take for granted. When I say they have a nice home, I mean they have more space than average, but then it’s a huge family, limited electricity, an actual shower head rather than a bucket and cup, some beds and a table. Most people here eat sitting on the floor in a circle. They eat using their right hand, though most times I’ve been offered a fork or spoon. A wash bowl is passed round before and after eating. While I love it here, it’s not the travel experience for anyone who can’t adapt cultures or needs five star treatment.
For myself I will miss them all so very much. My second family and much loved. Napenda swahili familia.

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