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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

This is Africa!

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

I often trick myself into thinking I'm a pretty well-rounded, chill and very tolerant person. Unfortunatley, this illusion is temporary and it usually takes something quite minor to snap me back into agitated reality.

Number one on my list of international travel grievances: Crappy WIFI.

Now... don't get me wrong. I can deal with no WIFI, if I know there is no WIFI and I fully prepare for no WIFI. My issue lies with the frustration of poor connection. Poor connection and false promises.

On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. Off. Off. On. Off.

It's exhausting and it drains me of both patience and energy faster than any third world inconvenience should. I drive myself berserk, watching the continuous motion of that little circle going around and around and around...

Sometimes I really sit back and wonder why someone like me chooses to travel.

Mostly, I wonder why someone like me choses to travel to places with shit WIFI. It's a mystery I will never solve. But... I continue to visit these places, so something out there must be trying desperately to teach me something.

I was picked up at my hotel in Stonetown on Wednesday and promptly delivered to Kenwa.

It actually wasn't that simple at all... as things often aren't when it comes to me and travelling.

A man showed up at the hotel at 11:30am, ready to whisk me away and I naturally assumed he was my taxi driver. I had originally booked my pick-up for noon, but why let minor details get in the way of reliable transportation? I threw my pack over my shoulders, he grabbed my enormous bag of dirty laundry, and off we went. I hobbled along behind him, desperately trying to keep up. He bobbed & weaved his way through the labyrinth of Stonetown, uttering NOT one a single word... nor did he ever turn around to ensure I was behind him.

Man, this is going to be a fun trip...

Turns out.. he wasn't my taxi driver. He was the porter, assigned to deliver the customers to the taxis. I'd never really heard of such a thing, but who was I to criticize the process. Obviously it works. My taxi driver was all smiles and friendliness upon my arrival, but we hadn't been in the van for 5 minutes and he announced, "Off we go Jambiani!"


Where's that?

It sounded like a fun place to go... but it was definitely not my destination. I quickly corrected him with "Kendwa."

Confusion engulfed the van and suddenly the race was on to figure out WHO messed up. After a few frantic phone calls, it was determined that it was ultimately my mistake. He hung up from his final phone call, looked down at me, almost slightly disgruntled and said, "They say you say Jambiani."

Amusing, considering I'd never even heard of a place named Jambiani until this exact moment, so I failed to see how I could have requested a taxi to deliver me there.

No... Kendwa.

I was firm in my conviction... and in the end, I won. We headed to Kendwa. By further map inspection, it appeared the distances were quite similar, so I didn't really see the issue, but who am I? Just a silly tourist.

The journey took just over an over and it was riddled with danger and dread. At an alarming rate of speed, we dodged potholes and ditches, as well as pedestrians and other drivers. Now, I am no stranger to shoddy road infrastructure and the lack of traffic management resources in developing countries, but I am always dumbfounded by the complete & utter poor road-user behaviour exhibited by drivers. Aggressive driving meets wide-spread traffic disregard does not equate to my security & comfort on the road. In addition to my fear, I noticed there are an appalling low amount of traffic safety signs and signals. No stop signs. No stop lights. No lane divider lines.

For the majority of the journey, I obviosuly had an expression of pure terror on my face because at one point, the taxi driver laughed at me and said, "This is Africa!" in an almost "can't beat us, join us!" tone.

Oh yes... I am quite aware this is Africa.

My smile was steady... frozen in fear.

Maybe the fact that I'm not ready to die in Africa, is more to the point.

Somehow the continent doesn't quite exactly excuse reckless driving, but maybe I was raised wrong.

I did reach my final destination. I'm not entirely sure how I managed to survive, but I did.

I arrived at the Kendwa Beach House and I have to admit, it was not exactly what I was expecting in a Beach House. I think it's safe to say that the word beach wouldn't necessarily be the noun I would choose in my description of this location. Hill would have been more appropriate. It's on a hill... quite a ways from the beach.

The Kendwa Beach House

It's a little run down, as far as guest houses might go, but the potential is incredible, should anyone choose to invest in this not-beach-but-hill house. My room is quite spacious, but the walls are appallingly thin. So thin, actually, that I am at one with my surroundings. The traffic, the hollering of the neighbours, the screaming babies, the construction... and me.

The man who runs the place is very kind and very tolerant of me. I have asked about WIFI a few times... and his promises have not yet come to fruition. I keep reminding myself of how kind he is... each time I lie down on my dilapidated & sunken mattress, or when the swarming flies are about to drive me over the edge, or when the lights don't work, or when the sheets are dirty.

They do try hard... and I have to keep in mind that I didn't pay for luxury, so I didn't get it.

Each morning, I sit out on the front veranda and one of the ladies of the house will bring me fruit, a very flat omelette and some crispy yellow bread. Available, and on the table are; Sweet spread (like jam), fat spread (presumingly margarine), sugar, hot water, some milk and a jar of instant coffee. I do have to admit, my time spent in Greece (years ago) provided me with an appreciation of instant coffee. We used to spend our afternoons making frappés to cool us down and boost us up. But this was different... I thought I was actually being fed coffee grounds on my first occasion pouring it. Hands down, the worst coffee I have ever had. I had to dump it 3 times in an attempt to try and remove the grounds from the bottom of the cup, and still, it was swimming. No amount of milk or sugar could help...

The owner just decided to sit down at the table with me and break into a lecture on how my time is running out and I better start having children quickly...

So I guess that's my plan for the day.

Wish me luck.

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Dec 20, 2022

I’m enjoying your writings, was wondering if you had accomplished those kids yet. Have fun, stay safe.

Dec 20, 2022
Replying to

I'm working on it!!! It's tough though :-)


Michelle Demers Shaevitz
Michelle Demers Shaevitz
Dec 16, 2022

This is the best. I admire your capacity to roll with it even when it feels like you aren't.

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