To be honest, the only old thing about Mombasa’s Old Town is the architecture itself. Everything else smells like wonder and novelty, like that stranger you just met who makes you believe in reincarnation, for your souls must have met before.
This is the Old Town feels, the strangeness familiarity of nostalgia. Stepping in and thinking, “it’s so good to be back”, even though it is your first time here.
There is a welcoming aroma of Islam’s innocence in the air. Wherever you walk, the streets become narrower, the kids become fewer (and yet more curious) and the ladies’ crafts disappear. But what remains is an aspect of the mundane that is disturbingly beautiful: the bell screams the hour and everyone bows down to worship.
You are forced to reconsider your steps, for you are now walking, though calmly, in what appears to be a holy hour for almost all those that bring Old Town to life.
It was great to find, by accident (and exhaustion), a nice and cozy coffee place that allowed us to sit on our feet. Of course we had the realest Badjia and may have overdosed. I was meant to be focusing on how good the Badjia tasted, but I was just simply overwhelmed by the immensity of this place’s presence. This is a small, overlooked neighborhood in Mombasa. An attraction to some, but for most, their home. I found myself replaying my childhood in this place, how I would have been one of the children running around barefoot and getting lost, or how I would have been a young girl daydreaming on my windowsill that faced the sea…
I could attempt to describe my experience in Mombasa in a combination of all my senses, but even this would present itself as a humble failure, for describing the feeling one gets in Mombasa is really a crime. (of which I shall be continuously guilty)
I guess I just wish I wasn’t a tourist.
I wish it was my home, so that the familiar feeling would finally settle in without insecurities.