Swahili doors are certainly the most outstanding aspect of Swahili architecture. The carved wood adorning the entrances in many homes and buildings beckons visitors. From our walks around the old towns of Lamu and Zanzibar, I captured several of these doors, all of them uniquely made, and I wanted to enter into each one and explore what was inside, but I managed to control myself. They are beautiful, yes?
The Swahili coast offers a lot to brag about - from the white sand beaches and warm ocean waves to the eclectic mix of cultures, that part of our world has undoubtedly won my admiration. I've been lucky enough to snag 2 visits to the Swahili coast in the last few months - one to Zanzibar, Tanzania and another to Lamu, Kenya, both old towns with much history and culture to offer; but one of my favorite aspects of Swahili culture remains the style and decor of their buildings and living spaces.
Swahili chic style has become my favorite inspiration for my own home. The Swahili style combines several cultures, bringing together influences from Arab, Indian, and African styles. In Swahili buildings, the indoor and outdoor flow into one another, with the ocean breeze wafting through it all. The Swahili people use natural and local materials for construction and decor, and incorporate fine detail in just the right places. But best of all, Swahili style represents how beauty is found in simplicity.
Here are a few pictures from my time in Zanzibar and Lamu to show you what I mean.
It was wonderful to return to Lamu island for the Lamu Yoga Festival and while I loved spending days doing yoga in the village of Shella, I was also looking forward to visiting Old Lamu town once again. I had visited this unique Swahili town with Eric back in 2010 and I told everyone it was one of my favorite places I had ever traveled. I was anxious to return. Would it still hold the charm it held for me while I fell in love skipping around East Africa?
Lamu town still bustles with life, beauty, and culture. As I turned the corners of the small streets, memories of that first trip kept coming back to me. This time, however, we only spent a quick day in town, which meant we acted and were treated much more like tourists. I even ran across Happy Flower, the captain of the dhow boat that took Eric and I for a sail during our last trip.
Even still, after my second visit, I wish to come back. And with the reasonably priced tickets from Nairobi, it's more than possible.
Last week Leo and I traveled with 2 friends to Lamu island, just off the coast of northern Kenya, for the best and only yoga festival I have ever attended. The festival was held in the village of Shella, where the roads are made of sand and donkeys are the main method of transport. In Shella, we could walk from one side of the village to the other in 10 minutes, going from one yoga class to the next. We tried new styles of yoga and learned from different teachers, strengthened our practices and awakened our inner yogis.
Here are some photos of our days in Shella village and practicing yoga in this lovely, unique paradise.
I just booked a ticket to one of my favorite places I've ever traveled.
I first went to the island of Lamu, Kenya in 2010 over Christmas, with Eric. We had recently started dating and we were young and in love (aren't we still?). He was my guide, showing me around East Africa, and we both had the same haircut.
I don't know if I loved Lamu so much because it was the first time I had seen the beauty of Arabic architecture mixed with ancient traditions or because it truly is a unique place in our world. Either way, while I fell in love with Eric, the trip also made me fall in love with the Swahili coast. And now I'm going back, over 5 years later. This time, I return with my baby boy, the newest love of my life, and I'll join the Lamu Yoga Festival. I can't wait.