Wasini Island has to be one of the most beautiful islands in Africa, if not the world. Apart from having one of the cleanest beaches at the Coast, it is home to dolphins. It neighbours Shimoni, a small town off the Likoni-Lunga Lunga road which is also the highway to Tanzania. Shimoni too is a tourist destination due to the Shimoni slave caves which have a breathtaking history. From Shimoni, a boat or canoe is the only means of transport to the exotic island. At wasini, the fresh air is triple purified and non-polluted. You can just sit at the shore all day doing nothing but admiring its beauty.
It has a certain mystical power that relaxes your whole body. Just a disclaimer before you visit the place, you are not guaranteed to sight dolphins for reason that the dolphins move around alot.
First, they feed early in the morning and mate before moving to warmer waters so you may not actually be at the right time when they are present. Therefore, just in case you go or were there and didn’t see them, you were not conned! My trip to Shimoni with my brother last weekend was worth remembering.
We set sail at around 1100 hrs about 20 of us, both local and foreign tourists in straw sun hats and fully-charged smart phones ready for an excursion of our lives. The weather was abit gloomy and so was the ride bumpy due to the strong winds that made us feel like we were on a rollercoaster as the boat swung left to right. This however didn’t seem to bother our tour guide who was hanging comfortably at the bow.
There was this particular young white boy who was really energetic and excited about the boat movements. He would make some funny sounds as the boat hit a huge wave wand water splashed in. I was frightened but composed myself like a man who had just farted in a lift full of grown-ups.
Every time we hit a huge wave and I tried to adjust myself on the seat, he would ask me, “Are you scared?” and I would reply with a boastful (“HAHAHA Who? Me? Me? No way. I am used to this”). While in reality I was scared to death. I constantly assured him that I am a local and was quite familiar with whatever was going on even though I regretted every second of the trip. I remember visiting the place years ago as a kid, but then as a kid, one used to enjoy the thrill of dangerous activities, but not now. Now, I appreciate the meaning of life. A little awkward boat movement and I think of titanic. Don’t argue with me!
After some few minutes, we spotted the dolphins at a distance and we moved closer. The sight was amazing.
Everyone had their cameras flashing. The dolphins did some flips as people cheered on. The dolphins were indeed happy to see us and the excitement was probably an indicator that they had just had a good mate *. After taking a million pictures and videos of them, they swam away as we powered away heading to a small island for the next session of our tour; snorkeling.
I started chatting with the tour guide who was a local from the area and I came to understand that he had worked in the seas for about 12 years i.e since 2006. His mastery of the sea was impeccable. He knew the depth of the waters at various places, the various boats used for different excursions, types of fish found in the sea etc. He was the Kenyan Tarzan. Out of curiosity I asked him, “Has there been any accidents at sea before?” and he answered with a small sigh by saying “just like road accidents, they are bound to occur.” It wasn’t a comfortable answer given that we were in the middle of nowhere.
In between our conversation, the engine went off.…and the boat went to a complete halt. The talking, selfieing and murmurs dimmed and everyone’s attention was drawn to the stern where the small engine was located. The captain, a bearded guy in an Arsenal Jersey, frantically attempted to restart the engine by pulling the starter rope but the engine didn’t start. He did it again. Nothing. Again, nothing. He put some ugali in his last pull and the starter rope came off with a very frightening sound!
It was a suspicious sound like something had broken and in particular, something extremely vital that was not supposed to be broken! However, as hopeful ship-wrecked passengers at sea, we all pretended that we didn’t hear that sound and ignored the fact that something terrible had happened. There was silence. The only noise was the breeze and the waters splashing besides the boat….
The passengers started glancing left and right but nothing was visible apart from the sea. Sea, sea and more sea. But we were in the middle of nowhere, what did you expect to see? Even google maps couldn’t trace us.
Everyone was calm until the captain said, “there is a bit of a problem here but there is no need to panic” in broken English which I presume was what sent everyone into a panic mode!
You see, in our Kenyan traditions, whenever there is a problem or a “situation”, any problem whatsoever, you should never mention the word “panic. By doing that, you remind people of what to do! Mentioning the word itself will drive everyone into a panic situation. You could see people trying to send messages and making phonecalls to whoever but the network coverage was poor since our proximity to Tanzania was not that far.
They tried to move and hold up their phones trying to get a network reception but the small fidgeting escalated into a small commotion which almost overturned our boat. It dawned on everyone that we had to remain calm. That was all to be done to remain alive. Surprisingly, all this time, no one had worn their life jackets!
“Just calm down guys”, I tried to strongly whisper focusing my attention on the young white boy who was literally shaking uncontrollably. He then asked me, “Are there sharks here? I am scared”. I then bravely responded, “HAHAHA, Who? Sharks? Why? No way! Here only fish and dolphins, everything pole pole, hakuna matata”. I don’t know why my English sounded abit off and irregular like the Arsenal guy but I guess it was because it must have been one of the most stupid answers I have ever given but for some reason it made him calm.
To say I was not thinking about titanic, shark week, piranha etc. is underrating my movie memory and threat assessment expertise. There were a lot of things going on in my mind apart from where I would retrieve all my dolphin pictures should the boat sink. I had panicked but my poker face displayed none of it.
Just for the record, there is less you can do when your engineless boat is floating aimlessly one hundred feet above the sea floor. It just drifts anywhere the wind blows. Like a staggering drunk, who finds his way home, you just have to let the wind direct you home. The boat did not stop swaying. You see, there are many documentaries and movies we watch but we never get to feel the real effect/thrill of some of the scenes in real life especially movies to do with the ocean and how sharks circle boats before attacking and eating people etc. Good thing, this is Africa, just like the traffic police, the sharks are bribed before the trip so they dont get to do none of that. Ooh and above all, we serve a living God!
Luckily just a few minutes later, we saw a boat driving by and we waved at it helplessly shouting at the top of our voices like our lives depended on it. It however rode past us. Of course they had seen us. They circled and came back. It was totally unnecessary to joke at this hour but yeah, a bit of comic relief could help, right? Actually it wouldn’t surprise me if they went away. In this century, everyone minds their own business.
Anyways, they tied our boat to theirs and pulled us to the island. We reached safely and disembarked from our boat ready for a buffet sea-food lunch.
To some, that marked the end of their tour since they never showed up when we were headed back for snorkeling.
We had mad fun thereafter. But that is a story for another day.