Nearing journey’s end…from Aden to Mombasa.
Nov 29th, Saturday
We left Port Sudan at 12.30 last night but I knew nothing of it. Two days of lazing such as my heart loveth…
Dec 1st, Monday
When I awoke early this morning I found we had arrived at the above. “The barren rocks of Aden” and indeed they look that. Against a background of high rugged peaks entirely destitute of any sort of vegetation lies a portion of the Town, white buildings with red roofs, Govt. House, Customs houses and few ships whilst the major portion of the native town and barracks are round a bend behind the foremost hills…we posted parcels of Turkish delight home and sent a cable to Pink and then proceeded to drive to the Tanks. These most extraordinary mysteries are supposed to be of very ancient origin, they were accidentally discovered in 1854 by a Capt. Playfair and were then entirely filled in by debris and rubbish. They are of immense dimensions and in all contain gallons of water.
Our way led through the native quarters awfully picturesque and utterly oriental, strings of camels, donkeys, cows, goats all lying about in the roads. Scenes of domestic life at every door, sweetmeat sellers, charcoal, pots and pans etc…and everywhere the ubiquitous beggar who whines: “no fadder, no mudder, no money…”etc and then as soon as your back is turned forgets all about his orphan state! Ended up at the Hotel de l’Europe and had drinks, they also offered to show one a real mermaid! Left Port at 1.30. We were so very glad this morn to get letters, those which had missed us at Port Said, Mother wrote from Salzburg and Pink from Nyeri (Kenya).
This being the day of the Fancy Dress Dance everyone was busy stitching away all day and at dinner we saw the results. At 8.30 the Parade took place and they really made a brave show, some were awfully clever, Mr Northcote as a most admirable Robinson Crusoe with his little son as Man Friday and his foot print facing the wrong way dragging behind!….my two looked sweet although I says it, Nootsie a Hawaiian and Babs Lemon Squash.
Great joy this morning to hear that Babs won the first prize last night and Nootie came in fourth. Mr Northcote first man’s (prize).
The last two days on board passed without any special incident. As we were given to understand we might be at Kilindini (the harbour at Mombasa) early we were anxiously on the look out for hours before we arrived. This we eventually did about 2.0. Nothing could have been more picturesque than our first sight of the “Promised Land”, the palm fringed white sanded shores bordering the very bluest of seas, the red roofed bungalows sitting down low among tropical vegetation and at length the wonderful natural harbour of K. We anchored about 300 yards from the quays and immediately dozens of little boats shot out to meet us. We scanned each anxiously to see if we could discern Adie (Maclean, an old friend then working in Kenya, brother of Charles _ see Love) and Pink, or Elspie’s man. (Elspeth Salmon had accompanied them out. Her fiancée was waiting for her at Mombasa). She found hers almost immediately, a big bronzed fellow in kharki shirt and shorts and helmet, but failing at first to find ours we proceeded to the Embarkation officer to pass ourselves in and he told us that his boat had gone back to fetch Adie who arrived soon after bringing with him the dear son and on that I needn’t comment.
We were late getting in all was hustle in order to get off in time for Elspie’s hour of wedding at 4.0! …(Finally) at nearly 5.0 the parson married them at the Cathedral opposite and duly signing the register we returned to the house and drank their healths. I hope she’ll be happy, but it is a great venture for a woman alone in the wilds of Tanganyika to where they are going.
This being over we returned to the Macleans and indulged in more drinks! This house, a big double-storeyed building overlooking the very bluest sea fringed by dazzling white shores and a background of dates and palms is all most fascinating.
Dec 7th Sunday
Adie took us to see the big Native dance which takes place every Sunday evening amidst an enormous crowd through which he slowly wormed his way. It is one of the most extraordinary sights I’ve ever seen, different groups of dancers dressed in a quite indescribable way dance up and down to an accompaniment of music produced by drums and reed pipes, the noise was deafening but the dancers for the most part were entirely absorbed, their expressions far away and mask like, and as each one finished its particular dance its place was taken by another group more and more weird. At length a large party of men arrived armed with brass trombones of all sizes. They proceeded to what I thought a very clever performance – viz: a long tune in perfect time and all exactly the same notes, the whole in reality being just a string of notes and no “tune” at all. After this perfectly correctly they played Auld Lang Syne, God Save the King and two trumpeters rendered “Last Post” as well as any Englishman would have done!