Mombasa was full of life. You could almost feel it pulsing: chaotic, messy, loud, and exuberant. Whether it was the clamour of tuk-tuk horns and calls to prayer, or the whiff of warm, raw meat mingling with curry powder, Mombasa made itself known. Colour caught my attention among the damp, dilapidated old buildings that hinted at former glory days. Over-ripe bananas in a hand-drawn cart. Geometric patterns and bright hues on a headscarf.
Cross Bones is the final resting place for those once considered the dregs of society. Although its exact age is a bit hazy, it was referred to as a ‘single woman’s churchyard’ (read: prostitute) in the 16th century, and by the 18th century was known as a burial ground for paupers, until its closure in 1853. It was only with the digging involved in the extension of the Jubilee line in the 1990s that Museum of London archaeologists excavated the crowded graves.
Birds flying high in the sky are of stunning colours. Macaws, I think. I can’t seem for the life of me to get a photo of a single one of them as they soar. Actually, they run in pairs and someone told me if you see three of them together, then two of them are the parents and the third one is their baby. I think that’s sweet. I sit and stare on the tropical grassy grounds and wonder, “Why I am here?‘ I find a wooden bench and stare.
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Published in the December 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)