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Linda Matama- The ultimate definition of travel goals

The first time I saw Linda Matama’s Instagram’s page my jaw almost dropped. She had practically done everything in my bucket list and wasn’t about to stop.

A mix admiration, inspiration with tiny sprinkles of jealousy and envy had me visiting her page every so often to see where she had visited since the last time I checked. I think my biggest heartbreak was when I discovered she had even gone to Santorini in Greece!

If there is one person I wish to trade places with in matters travel then it has to be her! I caught up with Linda and she had this to tell us about herself and travels!

           Who is Linda?

Linda is an open minded experience collector.

Why do you travel?

 To feel alive, to breathe, to shock my senses, to have a story to tell and to inspire others to do it too.

 Favorite thing about travel

The unexpected.  Social media pictures always look like its all fun but in the background, a lot happens and they are not always good or comfortable. All these experiences shape me. I am always surprised at how I handle the different situations I come across.Also Hotel beds are so comfortable.

 How many cities have you been to?

21 countries and 52 cities. I keep finding myself somewhere in Asia.

 What factors do you consider before settling on a tourist destination?

Adrenaline Activities.

For a while I based my travels on festivals, now I narrow down an activity and the rest of the sightseeing becomes an added bonus. For instance, top of my list was LaTomatina. From it I toured Europe with Friends. Lantern Festival was the basis of my Thailand trip. Call me a festival hunter.  I went to Sabah, Malaysia because they have what is now the 2nd longest Island to Island Zipline in the world (It was first, got knocked off the food chain). Went to Macau because I wanted to dangle off a very tall tower because skydiving didn’t test my fear of heights enough. I went to Cape Town for Shark cage diving. I went to Sagana to jump off a waterfall.  You get my drift. My travel mantra is: On every trip, do something that reminds you that you’re still alive.

 What is your favorite airline?

Qatar Airways, I love their service, I love their food, I love the leg room, I love their very many discounts and special offers…but I’d like to give a special mention to Air Asia because they waited for me on the runway for about 15 minutes past departure time.  My group and I were going for the Lantern Festival in Thailand from Hong Kong. We underestimated the size of that airport. Takes almost an hour to get to the boarding gate from check in. You need to get on a train, up and down several escalators, get on a bus that has to wait until it gets full before it takes you to another terminal, go up more escalators, get stuck behind people on security checkpoints who don’t believe that it is your name being called on the PA. Flights going to Chiang Mai for the festival had been sold out months before. The available ones were quadruple the price and very few. Those lovely people at Air Asia knew we couldn’t miss that flight. We met an air hostess holding a board with our names before we even got to the escalator taking us to our gate. We made eye contact and she took off running. Naturally we followed, chasing our names and our Lantern dreams. It was quite a sight. We entered the plane and the passengers started clapping. I didn’t notice, all I noticed was our luggage (which made it to the plane way earlier) was being returned on board because they’d almost given up on us. The Lantern festival turned out to be my most memorable experience to date. Grateful I didn’t miss it. Moral of the story, don’t underestimate the time required to get to the airport. Also, I need to follow my own advice because I have still missed flights after this.

 Five things you can’t travel without?

Phone. I take a lot of my pictures with it. Which also means always walk with a power bank and a power bank for the power bank and a universal adapter 

My favorite Blue sweater that can double as a scarf, from Vivo Active wear. All is right with the world when I wear it.

Comfortable walking shoes; even when they mismatch everything you are wearing. I generally walk a lot when I travel. That is how I shed off all the food I indulge in when not traveling.

Wet wipes or hand sanitizer because germs are everywhere.

Medical stuff like painkillers, tummy relief and bandages because I’m clumsy and like street food

How do you afford travel?

Save and personally plan the heck out of every detail, this helps save costs, oh and save. I don’t look at travel as leisure. It’s a necessity and I plan for it in my monthly expenses even when I’m not going anywhere.  I have an account with a standing order and every month some travel money is put aside. I know its easier said, but you never spend money you don’t have. If its out of reach, you wont touch it.

 How does Kenya compare to the different places you’ve been to?

Our weather can’t be compared. I’m convinced some countries like India have 2 suns, one on your left and on your right.

 What is your worst travel experience

I have many, and as you experience them, they are the absolute worst…at that time. I have even sworn off some countries and airlines, but later when you think about it, it becomes an exciting story and you’d give anything to go back. Most recent was when the pilot told us to prepare for landing then minutes later said he can’t land because of bad weather and was not given landing clearance . Then he tells you not to worry because you have enough fuel to circle the skies for an hour. At that point  you set a timer and start biting your nails. That experience is even worse when you have an hour to catch a connecting flight.

But that was not as bad as the time I lost my passport on my first solo trip. In a strange country, your passport is life. I did not realize I didn’t have it until I got to my hotel and needed it to check in. After emptying my entire suitcase on the hotel floor right at the check in counter(at that time shame is something you hear about but don’t really know), I knew I was in trouble. I’d landed at midnight. Airport was 45 minutes away. I made a few stops along the way, like stopping by a Mc Donalds because c’mon!! I can be bribed with food. Before I started traveling, I used to work for food. But I digress. So the hotel refused to let me store my luggage, I’d not checked in yet (even though they had my booking details…tsk). I walked out with my now messed up luggage, a bucket full of tears and a nervous breakdown. I had to retrace my steps, starting with the cab that dropped me from the airport. I didn’t have enough money because I was hoping to change local currency the next day and cabs don’t take credit cards and this was post Iber. My help came in the form of a cab guy parked outside with many others outside the hotel. While the others stared at a weird lost looking black girl, he came to ask if I needed help. He removed his taxi meter and helped me retrace my steps as a good Samaritan. Now I befriend cab guys in every place I go. Long story short I’d left the passport at the airport. 

 One country you’ve been to that is overrated?

I want to say Dubai but there are a lot of people who would want my hide for that. Maybe its because I have been there several times and its lost its appeal… or the fact that its not affordable. It’s affordable to go, and has gained a lot of popularity amongst travel agents, but once there anything worth doing (except the dancing fountains) cost money. A lot of it. So a lot of people end up spending their holiday walking around malls because its too hot to go outside.

 Hotel or camping?

Hotel because the bedding accept me as one of their own and the hot showers wash away the stress at the end of a rough day.

 Most important travel tip?

 If you book hotels, activities, car hire by yourself always go online and see reviews before you make the bookings. Online vendors are not always honest and you can learn from other people’s experiences. Trip advisor is especially good for this. And after a trip, go there and leave your review, good or bad. It will help a lot of people you’ll never meet.

 Have you ever missed your flight?

So many times, I am starting to wonder if I have a problem that needs to get checked. The silliest reason for missing one, was because I thought we had enough time to see a sunrise in Venice. Most of the time the airline can put you on another one of their flights, some for free if you have a good reason but if you are not lucky, you have to book another and it can be costly

 What are your future travel plans?

I would really love to experience the Lantern festival again but I don’t have a set plan for it. What I plan to do though is visit a bit of the colder destinations. I have chased the sun too long and its time to get out of my comfort zone. First on that cold list is Canada and Iceland.

 What is in your bucket list?

There is not enough space here to write down the list. Every day I discover and add something new. There is so much to do, it’s overwhelming. I have a travel bucket list and all round life bucket list.

Follow Linda on Instagram and get to see for yourself what travel is!

 

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Meet Rebecca Amo,the unapologetic globe trotter!

Who is Rebecca Amo?

Amo is a free spirited chic, easy going with lots of energy, selectively bubbly and on the lookout for intriguing adventures. I am super athletic and easy going when in the right mood ~extrovert. I also have this introverted side to balance the equation; That is get immersed in soul food books, solo back packing travels around the world, meditate and soul search in the mix of it all.

Ubud,Monkey Forest in Indonesia.

What inspires you to travel?

My forever young spirit and attitude,history,a yearn to learn new cultures,desire to try different foods, explore villages, meet different people,discover myself and most recently, books!Last but not least, the satisfaction I draw from putting Kenya in the map! Am that patriotic! I enjoy explaining where in Africa Kenya is and yeah, we girls travel solo too!

Egypt.
Jakarta.

Has travel changed your life?

So much! Travel has uncovered in me resilience, risk taking, spot on financial management, patriotism, love, peace, gratitude and awakened my consciousness on living in the now-present moment (Most difficult thing we suffer as humans),can’t leave out the love for soul food books.

Yoga retreat,Bali.

How many countries have you been to?

30 Countries so far adding 4 more this year!

India

What is your scariest travel experience?

Crossing Okavongo delta on a dilapidated ferry that looked like open rafters / dhows used by traders on the Indian ocean in ancient times,with the knowledge that if the caricature of this transport medium gave in, nothing and nobody would survived! Keep in mind, I am not a great swimmer.

What is the most underrated travel destination in your opinion?

In Kenya? Takaungu

Elsewhere? India, especially by Kenyans.

What is the riskiest thing you’ve tried during travel

Shared a room with a stranger (A man) in a dingy hotel at the Zambia border while back packing to South Africa, my first amateur excursion as a solo traveler! This was after I offered my room to a gentleman who was in the same bus,enroute to Zimbabwe, also stranded but couldn’t share a room with another guy! I was so naive! This stranger tormented me with sexual advances that I had to sit up all night watching football.Looking back? This guy could have actually raped me.For some reason, I was soo composed and stuck to my gun and fought back. Crazy! I can’t do it ever in my right mind…

How do you afford travel?

I literally save up for my travels.I work for my travels amongst other priorities…I also have a great network of friends around the world who help in playing host in some of the destinations I have been and will be in future.

Dubai.

What are some of the disadvantages of traveling the world as a Kenyan?

Mmmmh, generally, destinations that need visas can really make it hell because you need good financial proof to obtain a tourist visa, if you do get one, it does not guarantee entry to the destination country.The immigration of the destined country has a right to deny you entry.The other thing is,if you are female, there are some assumptions on why you are traveling alone that can be annoying if not condescending. Being black puts you on drug trafficking scrutiny among other annoying checks that you might just miss a connecting flight if scheduled for one and lastly, the assumption that I am Nigerian?While my passport reads Kenyan?….doesn’t go well with me!

Strangest food you’ve eaten abroad?

Snail and raw meat.

Bush or beach?

Bush!Now that I leave by the beach…..everyone needs a beach front address!

Best book or movie you’ve read about travel?

Motor cycle diaries .

Warmest country you’ve ever visited?

Indonesia.

Angor Wak,Cambodia.

What sacrifices have you made in order to travel?

I don’t have assets like land as most of my peers, at present, I don’t want anything that ties me down physically, I can pack up any time.I believe there is time for everything.Now, travel takes precedence.

What are your future travel plans?

Well, I have split my travels in the 4 quarters of the year and as per my leave days.

For 2017, I plan to go to;

1.Europe- France and UK in May/June for pleasure and watch sevens rugby team in the mix.

2.Pilgrimage-Jordan &Israel in October, this is a treat for me and my mum.

3.Festive season end year-Australia in December, time to make merry right?

I just started working on Jordan & Israel itinerary this month…..it is a challenge to get a Jordan visa while in Kenya.

2018;

1. Tembea Kenya- Lake Turkana

2. Paragliding in Switzerland

3. Explore Barcelona ,Madrid & Party in Ibiza-Spain

4. Explore Morocco and attend Africa largest salsa dancing congress

5. Machu Picchu trek in Peru.

Best items you have checked off your bucket list?

Hahahaha…….

1.Egypt pyramids.

2.Cruise on River Nile.

3.Snorkeling in the Red Sea.

4.Axum and Lalibella BC under ground orthodox churches in Ethiopia.

5.Taj Mahal in India.

6.Auroville in Pondicherry- India.

7.Stayed in an Ashram in Vellur, South India.

8.Climbed and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

9.Ngongoro crater and Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

10.Back packing Road trip from Nairobi to South Africa.

11.Empire State building ,statue of liberty and wall street in New York.

12.Desert safari and desert camping in Dubai.

13.Ferrari world in Abu dhabi.

14.Ango Wak Temple in Cambodia.

15.Full moon party in kho pagan island -Thailand.

16.Floating market in Thailand.

17.Rice fields  and Olowatu Blue point in Indonesia

18.Yoga retreat in Bali

19.Garden by the bay in Singapore.

Tricks and tips for young people who want to travel?

1st. Master your context: This is with regards to your life obligations and what you know is your reality.Be realistic and flow…..Nature will conspire and make your travel dreams achievable.

2nd.  You will never have enough money! So, with the little that you have, move! Start small, domestic tourism,then regional and international travels thereafter. Time is now, remember nothing happens in the future!

3rd. Once you get bit by a travel bug:-Trust me, anything is and will be possible and with the law of attraction, you will surely pull lots of positive vibes to your travel dreams!

 

 

I hope you are fired up to travel as I am!! Rebecca is serious travel goals!

Enjoy till the next post!

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Dion Van Aardt- The Travelpreneur who tells his travel stories with pictures.

This month on the traveler, I spoke to Dion Van Aardt. Dion is an avid traveler with stunning travel pictures that ignites the wanderlust bug in all of us. He shared his travel experiences, how it all started and his travel goals.

Who is Dion?

I am a thirty six year old Kenyan,but was born in Zimbabwe. My family fled from Europe in the 1700’s for Southern Africa in search of a better life and we are all still here!

 

What inspired you to start traveling?

My family has always been quite nomadic and in fact my great grandparents came to settle in Eldoret,Kenya during the great trek from South Africa.It took them 3 years to get here. So I think it is in my blood to always have an itchy foot!

Again,my parents used to take us on lots of camping trips and mountain hiking adventures in Zimbabwe and encouraged us to make life exciting.

Are you a solo traveler?

I prefer to travel with a few friends because it is more fun.Moreover, it helps with cost sharing making the trip cheaper!

Do you travel full time or part time?

I travel part time

Are you a photographer as well? You have nice travel photos in your social media pages!

I started taking photos the time Kenya suffered security issues both in Lamu and Nairobi – my intention was to shift focus from the problem at hand and just showcase Kenya as the stunning place it is.Then three years ago I decided to take up photography as a hobby.I have since practiced taking photos.As of last year I had already taken slightly more than 38,000 photos. From those, I always get a few nice ones that I use on my social media pages. I am getting better at it and I hope one day I will call myself a photographer. As at now, it is  a hobby because I still have so much to learn.

I love Instagram because I have learnt a lot from other people, while having a platform to showcase the photos of the different places I have been to.

How old were you when you went for your first solo international travel? 

I was nineteen. I went to the UK to work and become rich and famous. However,I ended up living in a tent in Henley on Thames waiting on tables for 6 months!I moved around UK working and living in all sorts of places from the lake district to Suffolk where I worked as a tractor driver.

How many countries have you been to

Twenty four.

What is the longest time you’ve been away from home during travel?

Three months – I had traveled to the USA.

How do you finance your travels?

When I was younger I did odd jobs in the UK to save money to go away over the weekends.Then I moved to Kenya where I ran Kizingo;a small lodge on Lamu island. When it closed because of the rains for 3 months, I spent all the money I had saved from the trade on the island to go abroad.Now I am older and I prefer traveling around Kenya and Zimbabwe because we have so much to see and do so close to home.

What is your favorite extreme sport?

I love Rock climbing!

What has been your lowest moment during travel?

I had driven from Harare to Johannesburg when my car got stolen with all my luggage and passport in it!

What do you like most about travel?

I love getting a tiny taste of what it feels to belong to another place that is not familiar to me. I also like tough hikes and adventures that takes one off the beaten track and from the comfort zone. Such experiences makes that glass of wine and hot shower feel so much better when you get home!

Which of the countries you have visited so far that in your opinion has the warmest people?

I am a biased man so I will say Kenya and Zimbabwe but other than these places,I have to say the other friendly place I have ever been to is the USA. It is  the best country as far as I am concerned for solo travelers. People invite you to stay in their homes after just meeting you.

Are you luxury or budget traveler? 

Budget! Always.

Would you consider yourself a tourist or a traveler?

I like to think of myself as a traveler but when I start taking pictures I probably look very much like an annoying tourist!

What is in your bucket list?

I really want to climb the Ruwenzoris, explore the Mathews mountains in Northern Kenya and see the Gorillas in Congo. I would also like to Visit and hike in Northern Greece.

Can you share with us some of your travelutions for this coming  year?

I plan to hike the Ruwenzori’s, do a walk from Mount Ololokwe to the Mathews mountains, then Cherang’any Hills and visit Eldoret where my granddad and my parents were all born. I am also keeping an open mind for other adventures. Any suggestions are always welcome!

Best travel moments in the past year?

I did a wonderful five day hike in the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe called the Turaco Trail. I enjoyed hiking to the top of the Mount Ololokwe recently well as.My latest Trip was a visit to Isaqbini in Garissa County to find the Hirola Antelope!

Best life lessons you’ve picked from travel? 

Try to always keep an open mind and everywhere has something to offer even if it is just to provoke you to think differently. Adventure is a mindset.

You don’t need to travel to the other end of the world to have a great adventure.

If you are not traveling what else do you do?

I have to sadly work!I run Kizingo lodge in Lamu part time and as a project manager in Ruiru.

Have you checked out Dion’s photos on Instagram? If not, check here.

Do you any questions you’d like Dion to answer about travel? Hit him up on the comment section below.

Who else do you want to talk about their travels, let me know on the comments section as well!

Happy reading!

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Fort Jesus

Facts about Mombasa Old Town that will make you want to visit

Mombasa old town is believed to be the first place at the Kenyan Coast to be settled by the Swahili ethnic group.

At the mention of this old town, the first thing that crosses ones mind is the view of an old quiet town located at the edge of the sea that boasts of rich culture,ancient architecture,a diverse community and deep history.

In my recent trip to the old town that was organised by my host,Voyager Beach Resort,I got to experience the old town’s warmth, interacted with locals,visited Fort Jesus;a Portuguese fort  that was built between 1593 and 1596, by order of King Philip I of Portugal  to guard the Old Port of Mombasa and has since been declared by UNESCO as a world Heritage site.

Most importantly I had a better understanding of the history of one of the most visited places at the Kenyan coast.

Inside Fort Jesus…

The architectural layout.
The architectural layout.
Fort Jesus
Fort Jesus.

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Curio shops inside the fort.

 

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Mombasa Old Town Brief History.

In the 12th Century, Muhammad Al Idrisi, a geographer and cartographer gave the first published reference of Mombasa.In the 13th Century: Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta traveled along the East African coast and claimed Mombasa among other Islands along the Swahili Coastline.15th Century: A standard map of Africa was drawn and the town of Mombaza is clearly Indicated.16th Century: The now old Port(Mombasa) was notably the docking place for Arabian, Indian, Persian and Somalian traders. During the annual monsoon winds, the traders would dock their dhows at this port and bring porcelain,textile, oils,silk and spices. During this period after the monsoon winds, some traders would stay back and settle in the old town. This settlement led to cultural blending that allows Mombasa to crow of diverse people, cultures, cuisine, architecture and languages.18th century: Kenya was declared a British protectorate and it proposed the construction of a new port with a deeper water harbor,to handle larger ships that brought in building materials and workers for the new railways, hence the construction of Kilindini harbor. This saw the moving of most activities from the now Mombasa Old port in Mombasa town.

The Old Town:

Architecture..

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The buildings are conveniently located opposite each other and separated by narrow streets.

They are a mix of old Arabian, Portuguese,old British and Asian architectural designs, characterized by raised balconies, wooden windows, large Arabian doors and white coral walls.

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Large Arabian doors...
Arabian doors…
More doors.
More doors.

They also have curved windows and narrow verandas if any.

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Mombasa Old town houses the oldest mosque in Kenya, the first hotel in Kenya and the first post office too!

First Mosque in Kenya
First Mosque in Kenya

 

First Hotel in Kenya
First Hotel in Kenya

History lovers will most definitely have a field day at the Old town.

Along the narrow streets of Mombasa Old town, is Ali’s Curio shop. This is where you get tangible pieces of history in form of  Arabian vases, treasure boxes, Aladdin lamps,  rags, utensils amongst others.

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After a long sunny day, the only place to go to is Jahazi Coffee HouseThe coffee house has been designed to be a meeting place where people of all walks of life can interact, share ideas and basically catch up over tea,coffee, juice and food.

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As you wind up the tour of the old town, just a few meters from the main entrance and opposite Fort Jesus, lies the graveyard of the family of Ali Al’amin Mazrui who was an academic professor and a political writer on African and Islamic studies. He was born in Mombasa.

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Checking Out:

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Beautiful place to visit no? As I always say…Pack your bags already.

Important tips:

  1. Carry bottled drinking water, dress for the coast and do not forget your sunscreen.
  2. Have some cash with you, it is more convenient than swiping your card.
  3. Have a guide with you during tours, tourists can be easy targets to thieves and con artists who masquerade as locals.Learn to bargain, unscrupulous traders usually take advantage of visitors and charge them exorbitantly for goods and services
  4. It is not mandatory to tip in Kenya, but a little appreciation goes a long way for proper services rendered.

Appreciation:

Heritage Hotels with their Mombasa Resort;Voyager Beach Resort for organizing the trip. You can also have a tailor made tour to the Mombasa Old town and other must visit places in Mombasa when you book your stay by dropping them an email at sales@heritagehotel.co.ke you can also read more about Voyager Beach resort here.

Thee Agora: A blog committed to the preservation of  Kenya’s rich history and culture by covering various aspects of our diverse history.

 

 

 

 

 

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Romain Angelo Mari

Meet our travelpreneur of the month-Romain Angelo Mari

This month on Bonita on Safari the spotlight is on Romain Angelo Mari.

Romain is a French Travelpreneur and a globe trotter. He co-owns Distant Relatives Eco lodge and Back Packers Kilifi with Thomas Atkinson. You have probably read the post I wrote about this little paradise. If not, kindly check it out here.

Apart from being a businessman and traveler, Romain is a scientist and has Masters Degree in Marine Biology/Ecology and Natural Resource Management. His speciality is in ecotourism,responsible tourism,permaculture,Eco friendly building ,marine environmental consulting and community/conservation project management.(When you go to Distant Relatives, you will definitely see all of these in practice!)

I spoke to Romain about his business, travels,goals and so much more…Enjoy the interview.

1.Out of the 196 countries in the world why Kenya?

Hmm you know what, the more people ask, the less I know what to reply! When travelling down from Ethiopia to Cape Town with friends, we loved the people in Kilifi. We loved the emerald waters, the traditional boats, the beach life, the great fishing and fishermen’s love for reggae! I also felt very free there and everyday was a new and awesome adventure. It just felt like a healthy place to be and Kilifi really needed a place for travelers to stopover. To be honest, also, I wanted some kind of headquarters in the world. And I am not very proud of France, the growing racist conservative right wing, I don’t really feel at home there. I am increasingly ashamed in fact of how many shallow-minded people come from these “developed” countries. So Kenya ticked a lot of boxes basically!

Kilifi
Kilifi
  1. How did you settle on the name Distant Relatives, any meaning behind the name?

Haha! Well Distant Relatives is of course a nod to Nas & Damien Marley. The words “Distant Relatives” struck us with Tom (the other half of Distant Relatives) one night in Cape Town as the most appropriate definition of how a traveler wants to feel when he heads off into the world. You don’t want to feel like a foreign tourist, you want to feel welcome, you want to be part of the family – whatever your age, colour, religion, nationality – we’re all distant relatives! I love the name more than ever!

Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives.
  1. Kenya has been hit hard with major security concerns. How has that affected your business?

True… 2012 was an unfortunate time to launch a new tourism business. It’s been sad for Kenya and for Kenyans. So many have lost their jobs on the coast, so many hotels have shut down and this all had further giant ripple effects on the rest of the economy. We were not spared. But to be honest, we can’t complain, we struggled a lot for sure, but not as much as others. We managed to keep all our employees and we are still in operation so could have been much worse.

Most security problems in Kenya seem to be a straight symptom of corruption, a much bigger problem. I am quite sure that reducing corruption would be most central to tackling security problems. I cannot even start to imagine a solution though seeing the scale of the monster in Kenya though… it’s very scary… but I find it a most interesting topic.

  1. You have practically traveled the whole world, Tell us a bit about that.

I have actually nearly not visited Asia, South America, Middle East, West Africa … there is still so much to see! I was born in the Alps in France and grew up in Paris mainly. Then I lived in the US with my family near Philadelphia for 3 years and moved back to France. Then I moved to Townsville in Australia as an aquarium diver and finished my Bachelor in Brisbane for 2 years after which I did a Masters in Tasmania. I then moved to Galway in Ireland and with Tom, my partner at Distant Relatives in Kilifi, and few other friends, we traveled from Ethiopia to Cape Town for a year overland. Then I lived and worked in Cape Town for while before coming to Kilifi.

Otherwise, I have travelled in Spain, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belize, UK, Canada, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Mauritius, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Germany, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Réunion, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, most islands of Caribbean, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and just came back from Norway and Portugal.

The highlights? Uganda, Kenya, Corsica (French Island in the Mediterranean), New Zealand and Norway I would say!

Travel and adventures
Travel and adventures
  1. Tell us about the most bizarre travel incident you’ve ever experienced.

Hmmm… There’s a few… Perhaps this time when we were sleeping on the floor with friends on a street by the sea in Croatia waiting for a morning bus, when I woke up with my girlfriend to the sound of a waterfall right by my head. Turned out to be one of my best friends sleep walking who’d decided to urinate on our pile of backpacks! He went back to sleep as if nothing had happened. Haha, just couldn’t believe it really! We woke him up and he wouldn’t believe us either! Haha it was indeed … bizarre!

  1. Does your frequent travels help improve your business? If yes…tell us how.

Oh for sure… I need the perspective. It’s like oxygen to me, I die slowly otherwise. I need this fresh inspiration and this magical feeling of culture clash. I feel alive and thinking finally again, comparing two different worlds, meeting these radically different people, they fascinate me! Sometimes it’s a bit scary when you realize how many options and lifestyles there are out there in the world. But it allows me to better understand people. I come back full of fresh energy, lucidity and new ideas. Lucidity is very important to me, it makes life so much easier and pleasant for everyone.

 

  1. Does running Distant Relatives as an Eco lodge minimize your operational costs?

Hmm… I have wondered this. To some extent I am sure that yes it does, as we spend less water and hopefully less power than an equivalent hotel our size. We also up cycle and recycle everything we can. But we mainly have the same costs (salaries, taxes, purchases, maintenance, etc). To some extent also, as much as we can, everything is either home-made, eco-friendly and/or on a budget – and such things often require a lot of maintenance and that becomes expensive over time. But I am happy that we never gave up to less Eco-friendly solutions!

Eco friendly bathroom.
Eco friendly bathroom.
Rooms build from locally available materials.
Rooms built from locally available materials.

 

  1. Do you have plans to go for adventures in other counties within the country?

Sure! I am very keen to head back to the Mt Kenya region – hiking along the mountain rivers, lakes, and forests. Otherwise also very keen to go back further explore Kiwayu Archipelago and further up North towards Somalia. I have never been to Lake Turkana otherwise and hope to go there soon with Iolaus (http://www.iolaus.biz/), some awesome Kenyan fishing guides I can only most highly recommend!

  1. What is your favourite local meal?

Beef fry, chapati & mchicha? Or mandazi with mnazi maharagwe? Oh no! Grilled “Giriama Kwesa” (octopus) rolled around a stick above the fire! Kabisa!

  1. Does your business give you a feeling that you are constantly on holiday?

Hah! That’s what people think! Those who know me well know it’s really quite the opposite. I find it hard to feel on holiday at work… It’s a bit annoying but I imagine it’s every caring business owner’s problem!

  1. What projects are you currently working on?

All kinds really, an endless list! Right now we are planning all the details of our big event Kilifi New Year (https://www.facebook.com/events/504864269719570/). I am also working closely with Barefoot Solutions (http://www.barefootsoulutions.com/) on our soon upcoming Permaculture Design Course from 17th to 29th October (https://www.facebook.com/events/293687144314591/). Otherwise nothing very exciting – searching for a new silent generator, hiring new staff, learning how to use InDesign, trying to get through mountains of emails, plenty of marketing and new partnerships, accounting… It really feels like there is no end!

Permaculture Design Course
Permaculture Design Course.
  1. Are you a bathroom singer?

Haha! I am bathroom beatboxer! Honestly, the world’s much better off without me singing!

  1. What do you do when you are not running your business?

Often it’s sailing, but ideally? I try to go into the wild. To find the deep pure wild… with whom harmony feels like the ultimate fulfillment. I have only found it once, in northern Finland, 300km above the arctic circle, on a hike for a week with a friend… pure magic!

Sailing...
Sailing…
  1. How many pages does your passport have? How many times have you renewed it?

Not as many as you think! I had one page left on my last one before it expired. Recently I have actually become really good at losing passports which keeps them nice and stamp-free!

  1. Toughest business decision you’ve ever made.

I can’t remember any decision tougher than another… Maybe they’re all a bit tough? Signing the sales agreement for the property in 2012 was like signing-up for a monumental debt as well as being officially anchored and tied to Kilifi – that was scary. Thanks to George Gasston for the daily bear hugs I needed to be reassured!

  1. What are you reading now?

Haha – I am reading an awesome book “Mes Bateaux et Moi”… Actually quite sad to be finishing it tonight. It’s the autobiography of Eric Tabarly, a French sailor whom I have always admired, I have known his boats since I was a kid – he revolutionized the world of sailing between 1960 and 1998 when he sadly fell overboard in the Irish Sea and drowned. That guy never gave up, always pushed his limits beyond the imaginable, he had so much hope in the boats he designed, built and sailed, in his team and the new sailing techniques he was developing. He never had any money because his decisions and inventions were too radical, too revolutionary. But he beat every sailor of every nation at all the competitions he joined – solo around the world, transatlantics, you name it. He beat the best and the richest passing the finish line once 10 days before the second boat in the race. What he invented/ developed singlehandedly were some of the most central elements of modern sailing. He even built a trimaran that would lift itself above the water on foils, the “Hydroptere”, the world’s fastest sailing boat – it can sail faster than 100km/h… imagine! I love these stories of people that remind you to always believe in your dreams, never give up, and give it 200% of your energy! Don’t let anything discourage you. Forward!

'Mes Bateaux et Moi'
‘Mes Bateaux et Moi’     (Image courtesy:Internet)
  1. What is the worst client experience you’ve ever had?

Racist people? And violent people? But violent people are usually drunk and dumb. Racist people are just disgusting… I have a deep hatred for racism. Luckily we have only had two incidents in 5 years but that’s the worst for me.

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Good question… I’m not too sure exactly yet. I’d love to show people a bit of light on how backwards everything is in our world. From environmental issues to social acceptance. It feels like people are going blinder everyday. They’re all such basic simple things and they do have very simple solutions. I’d love to do something that goes far beyond running a business. Distant Relatives does go beyond that but I would love to be part of something a bit more meaningful, let’s see! I definitely want to live somewhere wild, with awesome people, and believe in our craziest dreams, however naïve or impossible!

 

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Awesome people

 

lamu2-063bw
Awesome people.
  1. Favourite part of your current job?

Sitting in the garden after work, after the first rains, watch the plants take off, breathe and grow! Otherwise, in the lounge or garden, I love seeing the magic happen, when everyone mixes, gets along, people who didn’t know each other one hour ago – like distant relatives meeting for the first time! That’s always a real pleasure!

Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives.

 

Distant Relatives.
Distant Relatives.

 

  1. Who is the best in the world at what you do?

Woohoo! This is a great question! It’s a very easy one too. Her name is Kim Whitaker. She initially founded 33 South Backpackers (http://33southbackpackers.com/) and recently very successfully founded a mighty new project: a series of “All-Star Hotels” across Southern and Eastern Africa with 4 other clever and creative young entrepreneurs. Once in Cape Town (http://onceincapetown.co.za/) opened in 2013 and Once in Johannesburg (http://onceinjoburg.co.za) is opening November 15th this year. She won the Entrepreneur of the Year in South Africa in 2015! But beyond the awards and successes, she has this rare and rather unique blend of lucidity, creativity, boundless energy and simple logic that never quite ceases to amaze me! She’s a queen!

 

 

Well…There you have it! Don’t you feel like stopping over at Distant Relatives to say hi to this great guy!

Here are some beautiful pictures of Distant relatives and Romain…

Distant Relatives by the night.
Distant Relatives by night.

 

The inside of one of the bandas.
The inside of one of the bandas.

 

Gift shop.
Gift shop.

 

Oh you should taste the food from Distant Relatives!
Oh you should taste the every chef’s delight from Distant Relatives!

 

We are all Distant Relatives.
We are all Distant Relatives …aren’t we?

 

Romain the minister!
Romain the Minister!

 

I know who will officiate my wedding :-)
I know who will officiate my wedding 🙂

 

Check out Distant Relatives facebook for the biggest New year celebrations! you can't possibly miss out on that.
Check out Distant Relatives Facebook page for more details on  the biggest New year celebrations! You can’t possibly miss out on that.
Creek love!
Creek love!

NB: All photos used belong to Romain Mari.

 

With love…

Bonnita-logo-revised-350px

 

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