Kenya: Diani

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After the field trip to Western, we returned briefly to Nairobi before heading for the opposite side of the country – the coast. I was excited to visit Mombasa, but that would come at the end of the trip – for now we just drove through the island and took the ferry to Diani, a popular resort town and the jumping off point for our field visit.

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My Kenyan colleague thought I’d have American expectations about accommodation, so he booked a very nice place for us, where he negotiated a highly competitive rate. Little did he know that whenever I go on these trips, I brace myself for bucket bathing, sleeping in my own sweat, drinking nescafe, and eating packaged gluten-free-whatever for breakfast. This allows me to feel content with anything that exceeds that bar – a bar which, in certain regions of certain countries, is pretty standard, given their economic and infrastructural challenges.

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The place my colleague picked was, in fact, the nicest place I’ve ever stayed in for work and one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in, full stop. I told him that and he offered to switch us to somewhere more in line with what I’m used to. Thankfully he was joking.

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So, every morning I’d wake up in paradise: sunrises spread like watercolors across the sky and reflecting on the ocean…

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…the wind rustling through palm trees and bougainvillea, and three different kinds of adorable (and mischievous) monkeys scurrying around the roofs and in the trees.

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At breakfast in a glass-walled room overlooking the ocean, I checked my phone for a moment only to be startled by a huge thud on the table. A monkey had taken advantage of my distraction to steal my banana. I hadn’t noticed that the glass walls did not go all the way up to the thatched roof, and thus there was an opening, so to speak, for the thieving creatures. Another one practically hopped into a woman’s arms while she was carrying her breakfast to a table and wrestled a banana out of her fingers before an employee armed with a slingshot could chase him away.

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Every morning after that idyllic breakfast (I thought the monkeys added to the ambiance, even if it meant zealously guarding my bananas), we would get in the car and drive to a speedboat landing point…

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…and take the speedboat on a half-hour ride across the water to Funzi Island (below) for our shoot.

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We visited a village and a school and walked back to the Funzi-side landing point for the return journey by 1pm every day, after which point the rising tide made the waters too choppy to safely/non-nauseously cross.

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I didn’t have much free time in Diani, but when I did I would head to the beach or a viewpoint from which I could see the beach, and just stare and stare.

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The colors of the coast in Kenya and Tanzania are so beautiful beyond anything I’ve seen on beaches anywhere else. They’re muted yet still somehow incredibly vivid.

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So, even though I worked pretty hard in Diani, I felt peaceful and rested the whole time, from the views alone.

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Next up, our quick trip to Mombasa before the flight back to Nairobi.

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