Thirty years ago today I was on a tiny island called Kui, just off the north coast of Kenya.
I was in the middle of my big trip around the equator that I hope one day will become a book called Going Around In Circles.
I’d hitched a ride towards Somalia on a fishing boat called the Mabruki and this was where I ended up on New Year’s Eve.
As we approached the island, one of the crew members blew on a conch shell to announce our arrival.
I never figured out why. Kui was dry and deserted. But it was where the crew would base themselves as they fished the waters off the Kenya/Somalia border. Perhaps it was to let the rats living on the island that a month’s worth of supplies were about to be unloaded.
There was a single makeshift hut on the island. It provided a modicum of shelter and somewhere to store provisions.
I welcomed in 1992 trying to sleep on a raised rattan bench, swatting off rats trying to access the bags of flour stored just behind my head.
At the time I was convinced it would be the most miserable New Year’s Eve I’d have in my entire life.
But now I look back on it with fond memories.
And I don’t think that’s just because of COVID.
These photos were taken on a dysfunctional Pentax I’d bought off a fellow backpacker for $20. The road to Somalia was lousy with shifta (bandits) so I’d left my proper SLR back in Lamu.
It wasn’t until I got back to Australia and had the film developed that I realised that the Pentax was over-exposing things.
Having said that, I kind of like how it makes the photos look like they are from a different era.
Considering they were taken 30 years ago, I guess they are.