Ever with a glass of wine at hand, Annabel Onyango reminisces about a recent luxury escape to Shela beach with her inner circle of friends, and how this contrasts with earlier years when they were still young and green with no kids.
My friends give me life. I’ve known my core group for eight years, all of us meeting at about the same time when we were young and green, starting out in life with nothing much to show for ourselves. As motley a crew as we are from different backgrounds and of various ages- after years of partying, trips, collaborations, supporting each other through the ups and downs, dinners, spontaneous and frequent hangouts fueled by raucous laughter and unspeakable amounts of white wine- we are bound by blood.
As we get older and the circle expands with new partners, multiple births and growing children, the dynamic is shifting. We are Gen X turned Baby boomers, but blood is thick, and the call of friendship will not allow us to relinquish our youth without a fight!
Cut to Forodhani House, Shela Beach, Lamu Island, off the Kenyan Coast. This was the destination of choice as decreed by the get-away-from-this-city! holiday committee. A couple of years ago we would arrive on this same island with nothing but a few duffle bags and a lot of adrenaline. We would wander the streets of Lamu Town at all hours, sleeping at backpacker-style lodgings and sustained by dodgy street food. Nights, we would invariably end up at the badly-lit police bar with the plastic chairs. Presently, we can order a fantastic bottle of sauvignon blanc and laze about on a terrace discussing our favourite grape varieties. Back then, we would pass around shots of cheap tequila quickly followed by a dash of lime to ameliorate the burning taste.
That was then. Now, as we disembarked the plane from Nairobi (which we occupied about 60 percent of) it seemed there was more luggage than people. Whole suitcases, strollers, coolers, handbags, totes, backpacks, diaper bags… It took three boats and an entire 40 minutes of organization to get everyone on board and matched to their various infants, and we were finally en route from the airport to the holiday house.
Forodhani House is a real gem. In the old days, we would wake up from our modestly-priced accommodations in Lamu and take the sweaty but scenic walk to the beach in Shela. Inevitably we would pass and ogle at the brand new Forodhani House that sits at that pivotal corner on Shela Beach at the jetty where the dhow taxis pick up and drop passengers. Elevated by coral walls above all that activity, the house sits on three glorious levels, with balconies overlooking the beach and the ocean beyond. Forodhani signals the beginning of luxury properties along the Shela strip.
The boat docked, and as we carried our ten tonnes of luggage through the Swahili doors of our upgraded digs, met poolside by Chef Amos brandishing a tray of chilled glasses of welcome wine, the euphoria was palpable. The squad had escaped the city, and here we were in paradise with all these kids in tow, and our spirit of friendship as intact as ever. Somewhere along the way, we had turned into adults.