By: Chantal Blake
In the absence of a shopping mall, cinema, or night club, Diamond Beach Village is not only an eco-lodge but also the hub of night life in Lamu. From 4:30pm, the first dhow sets sail to Manda Island for Friday night’s weekly gathering of yoga, pizza, and a movie. Without a dock or boardwalk, there is no ceremonious way to make an entrance, so both sandals and bare feet fit the dress code.
With no lobby to soil, I carry my shoes in hand while following the staff members leading us to our family accommodation– a three-story treehouse that hugs its trunk so organically, you forget it’s there. We have the option of lounging outside on a sheltered swinging bed or reclining indoors on one of three beds spread with perfectly white sheets. Before entering, we dip our sandy soles in the outdoor basin where fragrant flowers dance afloat.
In spite of our rustic banda home made from wood and woven palm reeds, we still have the luxury of a private shower, flushing toilet, and running water. It’s all rainwater, of course, because the island has no groundwater, so we use it responsibly. Absent electricity on the island goes unnoticed thanks to solar power .
It’s nearly yoga o’clock, so I change into comfy pants and make my way–barefoot again–to the library cum studio. Colorful mats are laid and I find a spot adjacent to Ms. Helen Feiler and just behind Rachel Feiler, the visionary mum-and-daughter duo responsible for this eco-oasis. Once yoga begins, we are all one and our local instructor reminds me to remain grounded and open with every asana and breath.
After a solid hour of stretching and flowing, the sun begins to set and the pizza oven is set ablaze. I’m advised to place my order early before the after-yoga crowd glides in, which they quickly do. The near-empty dining area is now filled and before long, our veggie pizza is before us. We devour it before the movie begins, but the mosquitoes join too, so I slip out to help my husband tuck our kids into bed.
It’s not a reggae party night at Diamond Beach village, so with the exception of occasional buzzing and a few voices ‘reasoning’ into the wee hours, we sleep well. By 6am, the entire village is silent, save a few staff members sweeping pathways, cutting fresh fruit, and tidying the grounds. For breakfast, I choose a delicious homemade granola and hot oatmeal, accompanied with herbal tea. My non-dairy request is quickly resolved by the abundance of coconut milk on the island, a key ingredient in Swahili cuisine.
Before long, a speedboat makes it way over. I remember to ditch my shoes in advance and observe the way life happens on island time. After a delivery is unloaded and our bags take their place, the sailor casually asks when our flight leaves. With only about an hour to spare, there is more than enough time to arrive without rushing. In the singular departure lounge, I reunite with a local shopkeeper I met days prior and sit amongst the hues of faces coming and going. Foreign and local, shades of brown and tan, we are all enchanted by Lamu and have found more than a few reasons to return, hoping that it remains both what it is and isn’t.
A complimentary stay was offered in exchange for this unbiased review. All opinions are my own.