There are two Teddy’s in Paje, both next door to each other, both similar in style. The story goes that Teddy had a falling out with his partner who quit and opened an identical hostel right next door to the original, calling it New Teddy’s, forcing the old Teddy to change his title to Original Teddy’s.
Original Teddy’s hosts parties on Wednesday nights. I had arrived in Paje on Tuesday and had tried to barter for a bed in exchange for a gig.
“I want my guests to relax for the party tomorrow night,” Teddy had said over the phone.
“Well, what’s more relaxing than a chilled-out acoustic guitar session at sunset?” I replied.
“No, they must have energy for the party.”
I was beginning to collect some weird no-gigging responses in East Africa. In Arusha I wanted to jam at the local backpackers for my birthday. The manager in charge had somehow set it in his head that I had booked the place for a birthday function even though my exact words were:
“I’d like to play for your guests. I’ll bring some friends and we’ll have some drinks.”
I found myself sitting in his office and for the next hour as he drilled me who was going to pay for all the food he had ordered for the party.
“And the cake.”
“Cake? I never asked for a cake,” I said, exasperated by the man. “I just wanna play some tunes and have some drinks. I never said anything about a party or hiring you out as a venue.”
“What about the $60 for the food?” the manager asked.
After an hour of sitting with the schmuck, I told him it was his loss and stormed out of his office. Some people just don’t know a good thing when they have it right in front of them (I say it in all modesty).
Hanging at Teddy’s I made friends with two young Brits, Casper and Barney. I gave them all my tips for Malawi, Namibia and South Africa and later that night I brought my guitar ’round regardless of Teddy’s unwant of it and jammed for the few guests that were hanging around.
A musical rebel fighting the establishment.
The next day, having no bed, the boys let me leave my gear in their room. We then went to grab some food at a local eatery. Towards the evening I had bumped into Lucy, a girl I met in Malawi who was now travelling with her mother.
And it was Lucy who had pointed out the boat.
“I met those guys in Stone Town,” I said. “Cool blokes.”
The boat, named ‘Wisdom’ was a traditional dhow, “Built in Mozambique,” Buya, the owner, explained.
They had sailed down from their home base of Lamu Island in north-east Kenya. They sail down every year for the Sauti za Busara festival and then wait for the winds to change in April, which was perfect timing as my visa ended in April.
I swam over and was warmly welcomed aboard. I explained my travel ways and Buya told me how they wanted to build a website to advertise their cruises.
“I can build you a website,” I said. “In exchange for passage to Lamu. I’ll help get you people for sunset cruises and market the boat.”
“Let me talk with the crew and if everyone is OK with it, then you are welcome,” Buya said.
I’ve only ever built my website based on WordPress’s easy-to-use platform. I figured I could do the same for these boys. That evening I came back with the Brits for the sunset cruise, having also roped in two girls, a sure sign of proof that I was capable of bringing in clientele. After the cruise Buya said the magic words:
“You are welcome. Tonight you sleep on the boat.”
“Sweet!” I couldn’t believe I had just secured passage to Kenya. And on a dhow.
I was getting a bit tired of travelling overland. I was missing the water the way one misses a lover. I moved my gear to the boat and we went out for a few drinks at Paje By Night where I recognised the local guy that had wanted to throw me down the stairs back at Tatu in Stone Town.
“I want to buy you a drink,” he approached me.
“Won’t say ‘no’,” I grinned.
He apologised again for his behaviour that night. “It’s all good, rafiki,” I patted him on the shoulder. “I knew you didn’t mean it. That you were drunk. I also know you have a good heart. That’s why I came to make peace at the festival.”
I went back to the boat and strung up my hammock between the two masts at the stern. I had no idea what the weather would be like that night. I certainly didn’t expect gale force winds that had me swinging over the deck, threatening to dunk me into the galley beneath me.
I barely slept that night although the points where I was awake I was staring at the Milky Way.
It’s been 10 months since I saw the ocean and swam in it. It had been 11 months since I left the sailing yacht, San Miguel that had taken me from Thailand to Africa on the very waters I was now swinging above.
It felt good to be home.