30 for 30 #17: Kilwa

While visiting Africa during the summer of 2007, Les and I had the opportunity to travel south along the coast to the rural area of Kilwa. Once a bustling trading port complete with palaces, forts, and ornate mosques, it is now simply a very rural area with a few small towns and villages.

After traveling several hours over very rough roads, we arrived at this coastal area. Then, my heart almost stopped due to the amazing beauty of the creation around me. The area is BEAUTIFUL. There are marshes and mangrove forests. There are beaches and coral reefs. The place was simply amazing.

We had a great time there. Our hosts took  us to see the local villages. We ate a few meals in the town streets at night, buying food from street vendors. We toured the ruins of palaces and mosques, built during Kilwa’s time as an important trading port. We spent time swimming and snorkeling, captivated by the wonder of creation. We walked along beaches, examining the coastline and collecting cone shells and urchin tests.

We spent two nights staying at the Mjaka Guesthouse where we rented a concrete one-room hut. The conditions could not even be considered “1-star” at best. However, staying there for two nights allowed us to save enough money to stay one night at a local resort with a pool, buffet meals, beach access, a nice bed, and air conditioning.

I’ll never forget the beach there. It was the most gorgeous place I have ever visited. The reefs were pristine – full of life and color. Our last morning there, Les and I woke early enough to watch the sun rise over the water and enjoy our last few moments in paradise. When life gets tough, I think of Kilwa. It will always be my “happy place,” and God-willing, I hope to return one day.

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