Last weekend my wife and I went to a beautiful beach restaurant called Monsoons it’s based in one of my favorite towns, Mtwapa. You will all have heard me mention Mtwapa in most of my books. I lived in Mtwapa for more than ten years and watched it grow from a sleepy one-horse town into the main truck hub for the lorries heading to Somalia and Sudan. As I describe in African Paradise, the town is now a major junction where lorries park on the side of the road and everything is bought and sold. You can buy virtually anything 24 hours a day.
Monsoons is situated about twenty minutes outside of Mtwapa on a dirt road leading to the beach. Once we left the hustle and bustle of Mtwappa behind, we drove into a lovely forest that covers this area of the beach. The place is all designated as a national reserve, so the land grabbers cannot get in and cut all the trees down. Kenya has a great forestry commission; they save the local forests and mangrove swamps from the greedy developers and maintain our coastline.
I particularly like Monsoons as to get to the restaurant you must walk through a local Swahili ruin called Jumba Ruins. My wife and I love strolling around the ancient buildings admiring the stonework and peering down the two wells they have which still have fresh water.
I wrote about Jumba Ruins in African Vengeance the latest book. Brody takes Wanjiku for swimming lessons. That whole chapter is based on this beach, although I did use my artistic license and combined two beaches and the man running the restaurant is a completely different person. But hey, that’s what us fiction writers do!
I was particularly interested in looking at the massive baobab trees that are interspersed among the ancient buildings of the settlement. Some of these trees have a grith of well over forty feet.
From my research, this means they are probably over 2000 years old. Standing next to a tree that you know was around during biblical times is quite strange and awe-inspiring. The walk to the restaurant led us down a leafy sort of boulevard twisting and turning through the trees and buildings. There were vervets in the trees and probably snakes in the grass, but we did not see any thank God.
Once we were through the trees we came to a pristine beach. This always reminds me of movies when a survivor stumbles out of the jungle onto a beautiful white sandy beach. We walked along the soft sand and paddled in the warm Indian ocean for a bit. Then it was time to eat.
Monsoons is run by a very friendly husband and wife team. Arturio is the man of the hour and is always keen to make sure his guests have a wonderful meal. The food is bought from the local fishermen who ply the reefs in front of the restaurant, so you can always be sure of delicious seafood.
The service is friendly and at a pace that makes sure you enjoy your meal and have plenty of time to sit and chat between courses. Arturio has a fine wine cellar, if you want to settle in for the afternoon you are more than welcome.
We enjoyed some wonderful, deep-fried calamari, then about forty minutes later, Swahili mangrove snapper which was fresh from the ocean. After lunch, we sat and chatted then wandered along the beach and back through the ruins to the car.
This kind of day epitomizes life on the Kenyan coast. Slow and easy, take your time and enjoy the day. To anyone thinking of coming my way, Monsoons restaurant is a gem not to be missed. Just let me know when you are coming, and I will book us a table.