Tales From Diani

By on June 14, 2021

In 2002 when the trailer for Die Another Day was released, most if not all menfolk anticipated the movie with bated breath, having been wheeled in by the great action, massive explosions, and clips in which Halle Berry repeatedly looked like an Angel. The trailer showed glimpses of Halle looking like a fine glass of fresh drinking water and we all looked out for the movie with a desire to quench our thirst. 

When the movie hit theatres in November of that year, it became a well-known fact that Halle Maria Berry was one of the most gorgeous women to ever walk this earth. This was mostly thanks to the scene where James Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan) spotted NSA Agent Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry) through a pair of Binoculars and decided at that moment it was a view to behold. He looked up, drank in her demeanor with the thirsty view of a lover, and put down his binoculars to take a puff at his cigar. Then he looked up at her again. Agent Jinx walked out of the water onto some sort of deck with the pendulum sway of a luscious well-fed Zebra. Halle Berry went on to become one of the best Bond girls and imprinted her mark on global entertainment culture forever. 

Like most normal men, I’ve never forgotten that scene where she walked out of the water like a mermaid coming onto land to bask under the warm friendly weather. That scene made me crave life by the ocean. Several years later, after learning that the scene was filmed in Cadiz, somewhere in Southwestern Spain, my mind quickly looked for and found a substitute for Cadiz and that place was Diani – much closer to home, probably more beautiful and definitely swarming with gorgeous women. And so for many years, I longed to watch a woman walk out of the water at Diani. 

After my well-documented failed attempt to visit Diani, I finally made it to one of the finest beaches in Africa. The reason this time around wasn’t necessarily to watch a gorgeous woman walk out of the water looking like a fresh cup of liquid on a hot afternoon, but rather to drink in the splendour and magnificence of the much talked about Diani. I developed more mature reasons over the years. 

As we set off for Diani from Kampala on the evening of 12th May, the plan was to make the most of our time in Diani without contracting Coronavirus. The trip to Nairobi was unusually long but not uncomfortable because while we spent a long time on the road, we each sat comfortably because, well, buses can only carry a specific number of people during this pandemic. It is now considerably more expensive to ride a bus anywhere in the pandemic but the advantage is you get more legroom and space to just be by yourself as you travel. 

Arriving in Nairobi around Mid Day the next day was a bit of a drag. At Mid Day everyone is intent on getting things done and this means no one has time to linger about tending to your needs. The people of Nairobi are always on the move sometimes for absolutely no reason. Nairobians are busy people; you’ll rarely find someone just lounging about in the city. When our driver picked us from the bus station in downtown Nairobi, his instructions to take us straight to our Airbnb accommodation were clear. We passed by a supermarket, picked a few groceries, and made for the accommodation. I’ve been to Nairobi several times and each time it is an Airbnb plan because of the affordability and convenience for regular budget travelers like myself. 

And so the night in Nairobi was extremely calming. With very little happening in the way of nightlife due to the pandemic, we were confined to our accommodation and when we woke up very early the next morning to head for the SGR to Mombasa, we had done quite a bit of resting – we were ready for the 8-hour ride to the Coast.

There’s that early morning smile just before you board the SGR 

A ride on the SGR is a very interesting thing. When I first rode the SGR at the tail-end of 2019, before the pandemic descended upon us, there was a sense of excitement and utmost zeal. This time around, there was more calmness and caution. The authorities made sure SOPs were met to the dot and all passengers hid half their faces behind facemasks of various colours, as did we. There was therefore very little in the way of interaction and pleasurable sightseeing. 

The one constant about a ride on the SGR though is that you will witness the shifting and changing scenery right from Nairobi all the way to Mombasa and by the time you arrive in Mombasa, nearly 560 Kms and 98 bridges later, you’ll have enjoyed a whole lot of Kenyan scenery. As you get closer to Mombasa and you’ve gone through the sisal fields, you’ll receive a warm welcome into Baobab nation – a sign that you are closing in on Mombasa. 

After riding through the heart of Kenya as you approach Mombasa you start to see signs of life.

Our arrival at Mombasa came a lot sooner than I had thought. Yes, the train ride lasted about eight hours but it felt like it had lasted three or four hours. Our driver picked us from the train station and as we made our way South of Mombasa and into Kwale County, it was clear that we were going to have the time of our lives. The driver mentioned that we had come at a time when there were very few people at the beach – it was perfect timing for us.

Arrival in Mombasa means – the party can now begin!

Checking in at our accommodation in Diani, taking that first cold shower, and enjoying the first stroll on the Ocean beach is priceless. For the most part, all the memories of the months of planning, cancellation, replanning, and more cancellation now seemed absolutely worth it. The wait was over – we were in Diani. The first steps on the beach are usually steps of excitement and gusto. The moment for serenity has not yet kicked in so you are bound to drift along the beach just gazing into the ocean and wondering what lies out there. For a couple of minutes, I sat at the beach thanking God that I was lucky to have made it to Diani amidst this unrelenting Global Pandemic. 

As I watched the sunrise in the morning of the next day, I thought about how lucky I was to enjoy all this tranquility despite everything happening in the world.  

Walking the stretch of the beach in Diani was pure heaven. It was pure heaven for so many reasons. First of all, because of the Global Pandemic, there were very few people at the beach. This meant we had a lot more of the beach to ourselves. Obviously, since we were trying to stay away from people as much as possible, we also made it an effort to keep to ourselves. My travel mates and I made sure we did not mix and mingle with strangers – it was the only way to ensure we did not return to Uganda with some other strange strain of the Coronavirus; probably the Indian Ocean strain or something of the sort.

When you immerse your feet in the waters of the Ocean, you’ll find yourself remembering that scene from Die Another day, except you’ll be the one playing out the scene, without the sexy body or gorgeous hair. 

There are several things that you can be sure you will encounter at Diani. Apart from the fact that the serenity of the beach allows you to do a lot of self-reflection and meditation, you will also bump into several natives selling all kinds of items, most of them yanked out of the Ocean. From what we learned, buying these shells was not much of a problem but transporting them was extremely illegal. And as we would later learn, the beauty of the ocean is better left where it belongs – in the ocean.

Some of the seashells that the natives tried to sell to us Diani. 

Diani beach is estimated to be about 17 kilometers long, stretching from the Kongo river to the North and Galu beach to the south. As a prominent tourist site, it attracts millions of people each year but because of the Global Coronarivus Pandemic, the numbers have been somewhat minimal. And this turned out to be a good thing because we enjoyed ourselves quite a lot. The natives of the area, the Digo people are a very interesting lot of people. They’ll volunteer some local coconut wine and narrate tales of majin and one might even ask you to take her beautiful sister’s hand in marriage because she stands a better chance with a foreigner than a local. 

We had a conversation with one of the natives whose ride we turned into our own Uber taking us around Diani

The Digo folks are friendly and hardworking. Their women are extremely respectful and because of their predominantly Muslim culture, they are very good with food recipes. At the moment, there are very many various ethnicities in Diani because over time, people have migrated to the place and inhabited it. Our walk along the beach introduced us to several things including a group of locals who took us for jet skiing and snorkeling. 

When you go Snorkelling in Diani, you’re going to meet some of these guys

By the time we had explored and been part of the various activities on the beach, it became apparent that this was not an experience we were going to forget anytime soon. I have traveled around the world to various places but not many compare to Diani in terms of serenity and peace.

White sand beaches are the truth!

For most people, the idea of going to Diani for a few days is a very expensive idea. There is the very widely held opinion that you must have chunks of money to be able to enjoy this life. However, as someone who has been traveling quite a lot in the past few years, I’ve learned that yes, you will need some shillings, but overall, the will and desire to travel will take you places. As a Ugandan who loves to travel, I always find that as long as I have the right company, anything is possible. And while at it, I always make sure I have my flag with me along with some potent Ugandan gin, usually Uganda Waragi to accompany it. The story of sneaking Uganda Waragi into Diani is one that I was planning to share but for purposes of security, I will not. Just know that it is very difficult to take Uganda Waragi from Uganda to Diani especially if you’re using public means.

And when the hot afternoon is high in the sky, chill by the pool as you sip on some Spirit with the Ocean in the background.

Despite the current Global pandemic, my desire for travel has never been shaken and I will most likely get on the road again sometime soon. For now, though I will stay home, stay safe and look at the Globe as I plan on where and when I will get on the road.

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” ― Sarah Kay

Bernard Ewalu Olupot
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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