Mombasa by bike

5 Dec

Mombasa by bike

Turkish tea, french toast and Kenyan salsa on the balcony in the shade watching the cricket game below. It crossed my mind that this could be the most luxurious breakfast of my whole trip. There’s a great cheer when a fully grown batter swings for one hell of an agricultural shot and gets bowled out by a 5 year old.

Today I get my bearings. Phil and I go for a jog at 11am. Down to Fort Jesus and I’m doing Ok. Along the coast and I’m starting to sweat. After 3 miles we have a coconut milk stop, and after 5 miles we get back to his apartment drenched in sweat and on the verge of unconsciousness.

Phil ran the Mombasa marathon (41km) in May. Him and 500 Kenyans. With a time of 4h10, he came 501st.

Once I recuperated/resuscitated I began an hours ride through the busy roads of Mombasa to visit Jared, who yesterday offered to take a look at the gears (which have been slipping a bit) and give me a quick maintenance workshop. What a stroke of luck meeting him turns out to be. He readjusts the bike stem, which I was concerned about, as it was slightly loose. He pointed out that my derailleur bracket is slightly (but not seriously) bent (thank you baggage handlers), but I have a spare and now I know to keep an eye on it. He gave me all sorts of advice (and a toothbrush) for adjustments and basic maintenance of the gears and chain too.

With Jared and Ilea’s touching parting advice to ‘get a f**king helmet’ ringing in my ears, I head back so as to be back before dark. On the ride Frederico the Colombian compadre from Saturday night waves me down. The Spanish girls and him reckon I could get a helmet from the shopping centre opposite and they’re heading there for a coffee too. So, I run around the shopping centre while they and a keen security guard watch my bike. No luck on the helmet front, but I buy a bike lock, maps, water and a snickers before the latinos buy me a double macchiato. I’m really grateful but I have to rush off before it starts getting dark.

It starts getting dark. I take a wrong left at some point and it occurs to me that I could be the worst bike tourist ever. Not a bad title, really. Anyway I catch up with a cyclist and ask him where Mombasa city is. It turns out he’s heading there too. I follow him with a healthy dose of suspicion but his route makes sense and after confirming this with another local I relax and we chat as we duck and dive with the speeding matatus. His name is Duncan and he works for the Tanzanian consulate. I took his number and promised to buy him a cup of tea out of gratitude.

I grab some beers from the local shop and meet with Phil and Dalia for some street food and a beer. The street kids tend to be friendly and persistent enough for Phil to give them a few bob. Phil and Dalia’s swahili is very impressive and useful. Must get some lessons.


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