Living in Malindi: A Very Personal Experience

This article is a very personal encounter of living in Malindi. How it all started and what went on. Sit tight, the ride will get bumpy. I decided to move to the Kenyan Coast in October 2020. At around that time, I needed to look for an apartment in Nairobi to move to but then I thought why Nairobi? I have a remote job, which means I can work from anywhere. To top it all off, before covid I had a plan to travel in May 2020. A plan that was later nullified for obvious reasons.

The Planning

So when this opportunity came I decided to run with it. I wasn’t sure where specifically in the coastal area I wanted to settle but my first thought was to go to Nyali. I had never been to Nyali before but my friends had been, and they said it was a great place. So Nyali became the first on my list along with Ukunda and Diani.

I then started the search. As usual, I called a few people who knew about Mombasa and the coast. I got some recommendations and a few contacts here and there. Apart from that, I also went online on Airbnb and, looking for rates on furnished houses. Overall, the search was not very successful but I still had time. I didn’t need to move until the next year.

In November, my friend Steph was invited by her pal who lives in Malindi. Me being me, I asked if I could tag along which I did. I stayed in Malindi for 4 days and it instantly made it to my list of considerations. We also spent the weekend in Nyali. I ended up really loving the place as well but after a rigorous day of looking for houses, I realised I couldn’t live there. The houses were either too expensive and too big, most were 3 bedrooms and above or too small, tiny 1 bedrooms that were not worth the cost.

Malindi instantly became my first option. I knew I needed to go back there to house hunt. I was unable to travel in December for the house hunting, so I set the travel for January.

While looking online, I found a nice apartment advertised and after chatting with the contact, I decided to stay there for a week to evaluate it as I looked for other options. In January, my friend Emma and Marc (my boyfriend) joined me on the house hunting trip.

The house itself was good and big enough and had a pool in the compound so that was a plus. But we still needed to get other alternatives. After a realtor bailed on us, we spent a day walking around in the scotching sun looking for houses. We got 2 or 3 options from that. I also got a contact who showed as a nice house in Mambrui, with a beach view, but the overall vibe and the distance from Malindi wrote it off the list.

We also visited a nice house that I had found online during the week. In that week, I made multiple calls to many numbers listed outside buildings, from websites and also from other people. In the end, we had 3 options to pick from including the place we were staying at. I went with the choice Emma and Marc loved the most but they needed me to lease it for an entire year and I did not want to. So ultimately 2 options were left and I decided to go with the one I we stayed at. Overall, house hunting was tedious and annoying for the most part and I will always be grateful to Emma and Marc for sparing their time and money to help me. (If you ever read this, know that I appreciate you a lot😊).

In the end, I had a nice place to stay. Close to the beach, in a quiet neighbourhood where I could work well. To say that I was excited for the move would be the understatement of the year.

The Expectation

When I decided to move to Malindi, I had a plan. I would use the place as a pivot point to allow me to travel around the coast. I had planned to explore the entire Kenyan Coast, from end to end. From Lamu Island to Wasini Island, I wanted to see it all. I wanted to skydive in Diani, go boating in Lamu and swim in the Wild Waters of Mombasa. I wanted to do it all. Yes I know it is ambitious but I was determined to do most of it if not all.

The next big thing I had planned (the best way to describe this is from my mother tongue: Mwiiro wa ngoro: loosely translating or so I thought) was that I would host as many friends and family as possible, give them a chance to enjoy themselves without worrying about costs of hotels and food. So, I got a two-bedroom house which would be sufficient for the so much needed hosting of family and friends. Or so I told myself😂. All this was wishful thinking.

The Reality

Often, life is what happens when we are busy making plans. And as I would come to realise, all I said above was just in my head. As much as I wanted to host friends and family, I failed to realise that they had lives of their own. And in making the decision to get a huge house, I forgot to tell them that I had major plans for them. That and the reasons I am about to share made the reality of Malindi so far from my expectations.

The first major unexpected event was that Marc and I broke up in early February, literally my first week in Malindi, leaving me a sad heartbroken mess. This meant that I spent the better part of February, March and April nursing a massive heartbreak and most days giving myself a pep talk in the morning just to get out of bed and do my work.

That, together with the lockdown imposed on Nairobi a week before Easter, destroyed all my plans since even my friends and family couldn’t visit. Needless to say, my plans to travel and host loved ones just went down the drain just like my 7-year relationship had.

The Coping

Faced with the new reality, I had to develop some new coping mechanisms. The fact that I had just moved to a place too far from my family and friends, and the lockdown, only worked to ensure that I had to deal with all that totally alone.

After not achieving much in terms of what I had planned to do in February, In March I convinced myself to visit one place even if just a walking distance from my house and on the last weekend of March, I visited Ndoro Sculpture Garden.

In April, I knew I couldn’t go on like that, I only had 2 months left on my lease but nothing to show for it. After hitting rock bottom (a story for another day maybe) on Easter weekend, I knew I had to make a change. Instead of convincing myself that I was okay out there alone, I decided that it was okay not to be okay. I knew by then that it would take a while for me to be okay. Until then, I needed to do some stuff that I still enjoyed to keep me going at the very least. I made a plan to get out of the house and travel more.

During the second weekend in April, I managed to visit a friend in Mombasa. I visited Haller Park and Fort Jesus. The weeks that followed were not ideal. I was still very much broken and this time I felt an emptiness that I had never felt before in my life. I could barely enjoy anything I did. Even if I still managed to get up, run, exercise and work, it was all empty and sad. I probably did not talk to a physical human being in the last two weeks of April.

I had initially planned on extending my lease for another two months, until the end of July, so I could stay in Malindi a while longer but I realised that being alone, so far away from my friends and family during that delicate time was taking a huge toll on my mental health and wellbeing. Most mornings it took an effort to just get out of bed even months later. Not because I was asleep, because I was almost always awake before six, but because sometimes I wondered what was the point.

At that time, I made a decision to ride out my lease. I had already paid for it till the end of May. Then I could move to somewhere with the adequate support I needed to get better.

I now had only one month to try and accomplish some of the things I had set out to do initially. Yes, I had a list and a plan. I decided to pick some of my favourites. As I said, those last weeks of April were tough, but during the last weekend of April, I went to church (a story for another day, again) and something in me changed. I was able to look up, and remember that God was always with me.

That Sunday I visited Marafa Hell’s Kitchen, and I can honestly say it was my first genuine moment of joy in the three months period prior. This also led to some better days ahead.

Luckily, the lockdown was lifted and in the next month, some friends managed to come over, we went to Watamu. I also hosted my family, hosted two friends from Mombasa, rode on the beach, worked from the beach, etc… and yes May turned around for me.

Doing all these things helped a little but they still didn’t give me as much joy as they would have if I was in a different state of mind. But at least the last month of my stay in Malindi wasn’t all spent in the massive house all alone crying and reminiscing about the past and a future that would no longer be. Because of that last month where I got to actually enjoy the things I did a little more, I got a glimpse of what my stay in Malindi would have felt like had things been different.

Overall, I really really really loved Malindi. It is everything you’d need. It’s quiet when you want and loud when you want. Once you get past the heat, then you are good to go. I loved running along Casuarina Road and along Silversands Beach. Loved evening walks when the sun let down a little. I loved beach parties and I loved that fruits were really cheap. I loved my apartment with a pool. And mostly I loved how friendly the people are. They make you let the guard down a little and live life freely. Not like in Nairobi where you have to be alert and uptight all the time.

I still feel like I have a debt, I didn’t fully appreciate Malindi. I plan to go back when I am in a better state of mind but for the moment, I needed to leave. Adventures will always be there but there is only one of me. I need to do what is best for me. And that was to be close to my loved ones.

Malindi was good for me and to me. I had to nurse my heartbreak all alone, and I am glad it was in Malindi. I have good memories of the place but no so good memories of myself in the place. Ultimately, I need to change that someday. For now, I bid Malindi farewell. Till next time old pal. Till next time.

Enjoy Malindi as much as I did by doing some of these things and going to some of these places. More information on Malindi can be found here.

Comment and Share below. Thank you for reading.

Facebook Comments

You may also like...