BY Lisa Lindblad
September 2, 2013
Epicenter of Swahili culture that mixes Arab and African aesthetics and flavors, Lamu is an island of deep history. I have been coming here for forty years and in some essential ways the island has changed little. Jehazis, those wide beamed wooden boats with gorgeous sails and rush matting laced along the sides, ply back and forth between Shela, where we stay, and Lamu town. The call to prayer echoes across the turreted rooftops and down high walled medieval lanes. Men gather the lengths if their kikois between their legs as they guide boats to shore and women float by, burkas flapping in the ocean breeze.
But much has also changed. Dhows no longer come to offload their Omani riches at the customs house in town and the long stretch of virgin beach across the channel on Manda Island now sprouts a dozen or more villas and hotels. What a travesty!
But one cannot waste time lamenting when fresh crab and lemonade await and a pincushion of jasmine sweetens your pillow at night.