Charlie Claw's, Wasini Island

Tuesday January 3 2012

Charlie Claw’s is a good peek into Swahili

Charlie Claw’s is a good peek into Swahili culture, with sea food like lobsters on the menu. Photo by Edgar R. Batte  

By Edgar R. Batte

My primary school teacher defined a lagoon as a hallow body of water found near the sea and separated by coral reefs. At the time it sounded mythical but thanks to this job I got to see one and digitally archived it.

This was at a raised point between the Indian Ocean and Wasini Island, on the southern bank. It is a place to relax at the lagoon pool where tourists lie around with their feet immersed in water as they bask in the tropical sun reading, smoking or simply taking a siesta.

Further on is one of the very few beauties on this remote island, Charlie Claw’s which has a restaurant, resting shades and sandy bays and showers to cool off in this humid environment.

Charlie Claw’s restaurant is an open plan restaurant under a roof which is constructed with palm leaves and mahogany wood and as you enjoy breakfast or lunch you can see the Indian Ocean and Wasini Channel.

Charlie Claw’s is a good peek into Swahili culture. Swahili history and culture is on showcase here in the architecture, food, dressing and language at this restaurant where we dock for lunch after fun-time on the Indian Ocean.

It is all natural at Wasini Island with no cars because there are no roads for them to be driven in and limited network and no television sets yet you get served to the best coastal cuisines.

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When we set out from the other side of the mainland we least expect that the ship attendants and their leader, Juma Omari, the chief scuba diver, also double as waiters here.

As we dock Juma waits on for us as the rest go ahead of us and the next we see them they are differently dressed. Their dress code has switched from quarter pants to Swahili wear of skirt-like multi-coloured elaborate embroidery with white shirts that have logos of Charlie’s restaurant.

They welcome us afresh in their new roles and lead us to our table. The table mats are handmade and when they begin to serve it is in old gold-coloured porcelain pots that we draw water to wash our hands.

The chapattis follow with lobster and soup in small pots that are supported with a heavy woven support.

Journalist friends Barbra, Moses, Nisha, Michael, Robert, Hillary, Andrew and Regina our host from Air Uganda are, for a moment, not sure on whether to try the orange lobster.

Hillary takes the first attempt at the lobster and likes it, encouraging Andrew to order his share. “It tests like nsenene (grasshopper),” Michael shares as his teeth dig into the high prized sea delicacy. We are also served to fresh fish and crab.

The bar is just adjacent to the restaurant and in it a barman wearing a Muslim cap which is surprising because Muslims do not take beer, spirits or any of those frothy drinks. I think to myself that he’s probably only doing his job.

And just next to the bar is an art and craft shop which is inviting for tourists who are willing to spend some money to buy memoirs. The shop has a range of items that incorporate Swahili art and designs.

You can buy sisal basket, Masai beads, wooden carvings, batik clothing, women’s wraparound skirts, and elephant hair among other items.

At Charlie’s Claw you can eat, buy a memoir, experience Swahili culture and feel the monsoon winds but also take a nature walk in the coral gardens or if you’re sporty go sporting on the ocean.

Utilities

-Charlie’s Claw is located on the Southern coast of Mombasa

-You can take a full ‘Charlie Claw’s full day tour’ that includes snooker at the Marine Park and lunch for $135 (approximately Shs325, 000)

-If you’re only taking a boat cruise it will cost you $25 (approximately Shs60, 000)

rbatte@ug.nationmedia.com

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