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Lazy Lagoon, Finally!

 

KQ480 touched down at Nyerere International Airport at 08:15 local time. It was a short flight from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International airport, another one named after a previous head of state. Ten minutes into the flight the cabin attendant had announced that a woman was on the controls and I remember that warm feeling of African pride. The cabin pressure had been extremely high and I was uncomfortable as we rolled over the Indian Ocean on the approach to the runway. The male chauvinism in me didn’t let it pass as ” a woman was in charge of things”.

Taxing towards the arrival terminal, exhibits of aging neglect were littered everywhere. An old Dakota was parked on the grass behind an old shack. This is the most politically stable country in East Africa but clearly its main gateway to wide outside world was needing some attention.

As the taxi pulled out of the airport onto the main road to Bagamoyo, Peter the driver was giving us a tourist guide of his hometown Dar el Salaam. The motorcycle taxis that have sprung all over African cities were here too in full swing. Like everywhere else, the riders carried on with the same careless wheezing through traffic line with no care for the safety of their passengers. Peter knew his way around this town. We avoided all the traffic hotspots and were out on the country road to Lazy Lagoon in no time.

Lazy Lagoon Island had been described to me in a romantic language by Google and Trip Advisor as a private Island surrounded by white sandy beaches set off about twenty minutes from the Tanzanian mainland. The pictures on Google were like dreams of the sweetest dreams and I had spent time in my preparation for this trip, planning how I was going to spend time picking shells, digging my feet in the white sand and snorkeling in the blue ocean waters. My office mate Lynder had been blue with envy when I shared those pictures with her and her previous holiday location in Malindi was no match to where I was going to spend a week with a few handpicked professionals on a story writing retreat.

All was going well. Coconut and cashew nut trees lined our country road. Ruth broke the silence. She wanted to know where to buy cashew nuts to take home. Jackee knew everything. She suggested a market run on the way back. Apollo was staring through the window taking in all the details. Gladys kept silent and I was no different. The anticipation of the ferry ride that was going to whisk us to the dream Island was rife.  This was going to be one of those swanky ferries that hope from Island to Island dropping and picking the rich and famous.

Peter started indicating a right turn and in a silent dismay I saw a wooden washed road sign saying “Lazy Lagoon”. We turned right onto a bush track. I looked at Peter who didn’t seem concerned. Everyone else was silent as we hurtled down this winding path. This couldn’t be it I said to myself. Peter must be taking another shortcut to avoid traffic on the harbor approach. Ten minutes later we come to a dirty white gate at the end of the path. Peter hooted and a brown teeth guard came towards up. They spoke in Swahili and seemed to know each other well. He opened the gate to let us in. There was a big sign board off which I caught the word FETA. This must be an acronym of something but it surely wasn’t Ferry. Where have we come to? My whole inside was rolling in questions. Jackee was our hostess and was not providing any quick explanation of this situation. We drove past a row of while dilapidated building and by now I was expecting Peter to pull up in front of one of these and switch off the engine possibly announcing the end of our trip in Swahili. 'Caution Frederick, Caution,' I kept saying to myself. We went around the bend and the ocean came into full view. We were driving to the ocean front. There was a sigh of relief as the taxi came to a stop. I was the first one out and quickly I scanned the beach and the beautiful, clean Indian Ocean.

There was no harbor and no pier. That didn’t bother me much as I was sure that this journey was continuing by water come what may, and It did come pretty shortly in form of a small boat that was bouncing off the ocean waves with a lone soul on board watching us with interest. This was going to be our transport to the Lazy Lagoon, out there on the ocean where I have heard that waves can rise a mile high.  The boat owner helped us with the luggage and we were soon off to our destination. The worried look on Ruth's and Gladys' faces reminded me of my scary experience on Lake Albert some years back.

I took a couple of selfies to try and calm them down. The ride was smooth, the wind was low and the sun was up. We were headed for the Lagoon. The engine purred softly as we sailed on towards a dense mangrove island. We all made jokes about what might be lurking below us in the water trying to cheer each other up. The boat turned right and away from the mangrove thicket towards the open ocean. The blinding sun rays bounced off the waves as we increased speed to clear the path of an oncoming passenger boat. Suddenly there it was.

Hiding behind the mangroves was the most spectacular view I have ever seen in my life. Jackee saw it first; "There it is!" She exclaimed. The characteristically pointed thatch roofs that I had seen on Google were right there in front of me. We were now heading towards a pristine white sand beach the type you only see in photoshopped glossy magazine pictures. As we pulled up on the beach of this Lazy Lagoon Island, the Lazy Lagoon Lodge in its might and splendor was standing there waiting just for us. We were here at last.

 By Frederick Bazanye-Lutu