Lamu is the oldest Arabic settlement in Africa, and therefore the architecture is arabic and stunning. We rented a house (the only hotel on the island is always fully booked, and more expensive!) in the village. There are no cars - because there are no roads, only narrow streets. The only kind of transportation are bicycles and donkeys. Few people ride the donkeys, they are used for transporting goods, such as sand/produce etc.
The doorways in the houses are beautiful, there are children all over the place, the flowers are gorgeous (bougainvillea everywhere you look). There are donkeys everywhere you turn, more often than not pregnant (and a pregnant donkey takes up an entire alleyway) and they get right of way. So as it happens do cats!
The Lamu people believe that the Lamu cat is the last direct descendant of the Egyptian cat - and therefore Bast. They do have slightly oriental faces but what kills the Egyptian theory is that they also have fox-like tails! Nobody "owns" the cats, though everyone gives them food and shelter as they are almost revered (like in Thailand - or our house...). The first day on the island, we found a heavily pregnant donkey livign outside our house. The next evening - thin donkey was in her place - with a baby donkey!!! Long wobbly legs like a giraffe...struggling to stand up. She was fine, despite falling onto her head several times and pfffftttting the dust out of her nose. With the baby donkey, palm trees and starry night, it was almost like a Christmas card. No, seriously, it was!
The mosque was 100 metres from our house - despite trying to wake at the 5AM call, I managed to miss it every morning. G woke to it though and made use of my sleeping time to go for long walks and discover the island. The beaches are glorious - miles of untouched sand. The sea is azure blue and warm. Hardly anyone around, so it felt like the beach was our own.
Lots of foreigners have moved to Lamu - from Europe especially. The hotel (Peponi) is family-run and has been there for 30+ years. It is the only place on the island that sells alcohol. We took a douw (local fishing boat) across to the main part of Lamu - we lasted 45 minutes. It smelt bad. Sorry. They still have open sewage which I couldn't handle. Shela was lovely and so we stuck to that part of the island from then on. Plenty to do - lots of shops (run by and for expats), interesting people to meet, fascinating stories to hear.
We took a douw out on our last evening, captained by Captain Flower (!) - caught the sunset. Perfect.