Lamu ‘Roof-light’ And A Room With Many Views

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It’s back to the old Africa album for some rooftop views of Shela village on the East African island of Lamu. The photos are accruing vintage status, taken with a non-digital camera (Olympus trip) many Christmases ago when home for us meant Nairobi.

Many of you will have seen them before. We were staying in the grandly named ‘penthouse suite’ of the long gone Island Hotel, four floors up in the palm thatched rafters. The ‘penthouse’ status meant much empty space, basic cold water shower and loo, a too-narrow-for-two Lamu bed, a couple of locally made chairs, and best of all, windows on three walls. I have never had so many good views all at once. There was a breeze too off the nearby Manda Strait – always a blessing in the sticky hot season.

And of course this open-to-the-elements facility also came with a soundtrack – radios, family chatter, clattering saucepans, babies crying, cockerels crowing, cats yowling and donkeys hee-hawing. And if at night sleep happened at all, then all too soon there came the dawn call to prayer, the sonorous tones of Allahu Akbar  –  all of village life welling in our roof space like sea-sounds in a shell. It was utterly mesmerising. Perhaps we dreamt it.







Taking a Lamu dhow into Stone Town. Another kind of window.


Related posts:

A brief introduction to the Swahili culture of the East African seaboard The Swahili

The original post about our long-ago Christmas trip Lamu Dreaming

copyright 2020 Tish Farrell

Lens-Artists: Window with a view

January Light #14

41 thoughts on “Lamu ‘Roof-light’ And A Room With Many Views

  1. Fabulous window views on three walls, Tish! What a travel experience in that village. All are beautifully captured, I love the last two especially.
    Thank you for sharing with us. 🙂

  2. Mesmerising because they were so exotic and different, Tish? They captured a part of your soul. Like Jude I’d wondered… but you’ve kept track of events, and there is never really any going back, except in the imagination, is there? 🙂 🙂

  3. GREAT photos. I’m always amazed when I look back at how good my old camera was at taking photos. Funnily, at first, when I was looking at your photos I wondered if it was a tiny model or something. Really like the strong contrast of the palms and the buildings.

    1. Many thanks, Lani. I think the light must have been perfect when I took the photo. I seem to remember there were only 3 settings on it – portrait, close-ish, and infinity!

  4. A dream in the minds of many Ethiopians and not least because it was by way of the dhows from India that we obtained the spices of our food! Also, because no Ethiopian sees the sea from his or her Ethiopian soil…

    Thanks for this and in winter, Tish.


    1. And thank you for adding your own precious vistas to mine, Sarah – expanding our gaze across Africa and the Indian Ocean. AND making me long for some Ethiopian food! Nothing quite like it, is there.

  5. Such wonderful photos Tish. I’m so glad you share some of it from time to time. It must have been an amazing time in your life, though I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle the soundscape. I wonder if I would have slept at all.

  6. All of these are enigmatic, Tish. Love the vintage touch, your memories… and the dhow is just enchantingly beautiful. Some of these scenes bring back memories of our long sailing with the last paddle-streamer down the Nile, 1981. I loved the early mornings with the fishermen and the women doing their laundry and dishes. I understand you don’t think of returning. It is almost always a not so good idea.

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