From the Archives: In Lamu, Nothing Changes but the Moon (1978)

in Culture

Not far from the coast of Kenya in the iridescent Indian Ocean lies an island called Lamu, very much the same as it was a thousand years ago. Since time out of mind, Lamu has been a bustling entrépot of the African-Arabian trade, its wharves aswarm with dhows freighting ostrich feathers, elephant tusks and green hashish, its bazaars awash with every exotic skin tone from Tibetan gold to Zulu ebony. And in recent years, gliding inconspicuously in their shimmering wraparound kikoys among all these motley traders, an increasing number of Western adventurers have been living out fantasies straight from the Arabian Nights.

For a dollar a night, boarding houses in Lamu town will afford a visitor not merely clean lodgings but access to the flat roof with unlimited sunset-watching and stargazing privileges. Lamu marijuana is cheap and powerful, restrictions against it are minimal, and the African equatorial heavens are spectacular and infinitely absorbing. Thus many are persuaded to stay for months on end, renting ancient high-walled townhouses for $20 to $50 a month.

The traditional Swahili ambiance of Lamu town thrives at the 200-year-old Petley’s Inn, complete with first-class bar and restaurant and pool, yet blending perfectly with the island’s unique tranquility and magnetism. Automobiles are banned from Lamu’s narrow streets, constructed to shade the people from the equatorial sun and to generate refreshing sea-wind currents. Transporation is by foot and donkey mainly, or by m’tabi, a sturdy Swahili motorboat with a swan’s curve belly and bow. Every jetty and marketplace is lined with shops decorated with brilliant banners and awnings, the owners and customers alike wearing long white khanzu-robes and fezlike kofias. Business is brisk and noisy in the morning and picks up again toward sunset, after the long afternoon doze.

Thus life stirs early in …

Read More

Author: High Times / High Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Latest from Culture

0 $0.00
Go to Top