Lamu town today is small; it takes just 40 minutes to walk from one end to the other, but its Golden Age remains very much in evidence, if in diminished and often dilapidated form. Many of the larger 19th century mansions are still standing; newer versions of the carved doors, intricate coral work and hardwood furniture that graced those houses can still be found throughout the island.
The labyrinthine streets of Lamu town are a historical attraction in themselves. These narrow streets are all built upwards along a gentle slope, letting the rains wash the town clean. The streets are never much more than eight feet wide. This means that there are no vehicles to be found here, with the exception of a single car belonging to the local District commissioner - which can never leave the single thoroughfare of the sea front.
Lamu's stone houses are unique. The basic design is of an open, topless box enclosing a large courtyard, around which are set inward-facing rooms on two or three floors.
These rooms are long and narrow, their ceilings supported by close-set timbers or mangrove poles (boriti). Most had exquisite carved doors at one time, though in all but a few dozen homes these have been sold off to pay for upkeep. Many also had zidaka, plaster-work niches in the walls to give an illusion of extended space, which are now just as rare. Toilet arrangements are ingenious, with fish in the large water cisterns to eat the mosquito larvae. On the top floor, a kitchen with a makuti roof to provide shade.
Kenya Beach Hotels
The Eastern Coast of Africa has two seasonal winds. The South-East Trade (Kusi) which blows from May to November, a strong gusty wind which brings the rains, rough water and silt from the Tana River. During this time most boat movement takes place along inshore channels. The North-East Trade (Kas Kazi) blows from December to April. This summer wind brings calm, clear water and the fishing season. Occasionally there are strong winds, but storms are rare.
There are two Low and High tides daily, with 12 hours between each. The cycle is about one hour later each day. The difference between High and Low tides vary with the moon. Spring Tide occurs every two weeks on the Full and New moons. During spring tides the current is strong in front of Peponi. Neap Tide occurs on both half moons and has minimal difference between High and Low tide. Since the movement is so little, the water tends to be at its clearest over the Neap Tides.
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