The past 3 weeks in Kenya have gone by so quickly – we can’t believe that it is already time to head home and start summer internships. It has been such a great experience here.
As we mentioned in our earlier posts, we’ve been working at SWAP in Kisumu helping with a pilot on water filter sales using a mobile money rent-to-own system. We’re really happy with all that we have achieved! We spent the first 2 weeks mostly out in the field interviewing customers, shopkeepers, field officers, vendors, and management, and then this week we spent time collecting our thoughts, brainstorming recommendations (there were a lot of sticky notes involved!), and meeting with Collince, the project manager, and Alie, the country director to discuss and refine our ideas and recommendations.
We’ll be sad to leave SWAP so soon, as we’ve become close with everyone we’ve been working with, and have enjoyed going out to lunch and dinners with them around Kisumu to test out the local cuisine – the Tilapia is a specialty, and where better to eat it than at Tilapia Beach, right on the shores of Lake Victoria.
We’ve also had some fun nights out with our new friends. Our driver, Zablon, and one of the SWAP team members, Edward, are always up for a party and showed us around the Kisumu nightlife so we got to check out some cool bars and clubs we wouldn’t have found without them!
On the weekends, when we aren’t at work, we’ve had the amazing opportunity to explore Kenya a bit. Our first weekend we spent in Nairobi (see our post here), then the second weekend we were off on safari in the Maasai Mara (see our post here), and this weekend we got the chance to go to Diani Beach, on the coast south of Mombasa for some relaxation in the sun.
Sand and Sunshine at Diani Beach
We were all super excited for our weekend at the beach. Friday morning we left Kisumu for Nairobi (just a 30 minute flight) for some meetings there with some contacts at other organizations to discuss mobile money systems. In the afternoon, it was time for another short (45 minute) flight to Mombasa, where a driver met us for the drive to Diani Beach. We were expecting a relatively short 1 hour drive, but soon discovered that Mombasa traffic had different ideas. It took us more than an hour to get to the Likoni Ferry (from Mombasa Island to the mainland), then about 30 minutes to wait for the short ferry ride across, before a 30 minute drive south to Diani.
We were all relieved when we arrived at our hotel, Stilts Treehouses, and had a Tusker Beer to relax before dinner. The hotel was really cool as we were staying in some basic but comfortable tree houses just a few hundred meters from the beach, but surrounded by forests with Monkeys running around. The hotel was run by an English guy called Andy who was good fun, and there also happened to be another Australian staying there, so over the weekend we had fun having beers with them. Across the road was a really cool beach bar called Forty Thieves where we headed for dinner the first night and ended up spending a lot of time over the weekend – it was the place to be.
Diani Beach was gorgeous with warm water and beautiful white sand. Since it was still low season, it was quiet – although we hadn’t realized quite how quiet. Most of the time we felt like we had the beach to ourselves. We spent Saturday morning on the beach, swimming, and having Tuskers at Forty’s. After lunch, we decided to try the local beach taxi (camels!) and went for a ride along the beach to get massages (I’d found a place for them on a run earlier in the morning). It was a fun experience – it really was so great to be relaxing at the beach.
It was then time for some evening drinks at Stilts, before heading to the nicest restaurant around, Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant (it is owned by Andy’s father and their surname is Barbour). The restaurant was really cool since it was built below ground and was designed to look like the inside of a cave, and the food was absolutely delicious. After dinner, it was time for another night of partying at our favorite place, Forty’s.
Sunday morning, we were woken by a monkey on our deck looking in to our room which was quite funny. We then spent the morning relaxing on the beach for a few more hours before heading back to Kisumu for our final week.
Now it is time for our summer internships which we’re all looking forward to, although we’re going to miss Kenya – so many great memories.
Ben, EB, Kota and Rodrigo