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January 2016

December started a little rainy, but with a new initiative. We were going to turn our boat into a floating dormitory – a floatel. The money was necessary to continue the project, our pockets tide-rinsed, this was a most welcome initiative.

So we started setting up, turning Musafir into a comfy bedroom. 20 mattrasses were bought for our public, along with mosquito nets, pillows and sheets; tropic hostel basics. A platform was raised off-board, and received a million complaints about the small size of the hole in it, as it was to become a toilet. But a small hole is better then no hole, and the toilet to be used for big business was on-land, anyway.

A bar was set up, and ice was taken care of by Paolo, who, by the end of it did not want to hear the word 'ice' anymore. But we always served a chilled beer, a cool rum cocktail and ginger beverages with water drops oozing down the side. For snacks we offered peanuts for the savory, and dried mangoes for the sweeter tooth. A sound system was brought on board, and set up. The boat was ready to rock.

And so, on the 23rd of December, our first guests started arriving. Surprisingly, all went smooth. Everyone was excited, and happy. There were kids running along the deck, trying to land in the water properly, and grown ups doing the same. The sun was always shining, it never rained, and the bar would open for sundowners. It became a very popular and hip place to be in, and it became quite a job to ferry the excited crowd back to land. Sometimes other boats would help our little boat that was meant to carry 5 (8, by our standards, but 13 in African). But no worries, we managed, and all the tired guests could get their longed sleep.

A bunch of artists from Nairobi came one day, and brought their drums with them. They banged out a wild beat, and the night before Christmas flew by our eyes at a rapid rate.

The Christmas was a blessing. There was a huge dinner, and everyone was invited. The vibe was high, dawn to dusk. Like a true big family we enjoyed our time together, jumping, drinking, eating, singing. The Musafiris earned a lot of respect for that day. The floatel was going terrific, and we felt a bit pressured to keep it up.

And so we did.

For the period surrounding the New Years, our boat was full of guests. This was mainly due to the fact that our party-loving neighbor Distant Relatives decided to throw a big, 2-day-long festival for that date, including burning a huge wooden statue between Musafir and the shore at the climax of the party. The ones on board could feel the heat accross the water. It was a magnificent sight, even though the locals who saw it were concerned about the meaning of burning these big statues already second year in a row.

On the 3rd of January, the floating dormitory officialy pulled its ladder up. We were done. It had been a great success, and Musafir struck a new record of 82 people on board at the same time. We raised a total profit of 200.000 Kenyan shillings, as well as equipped the boat with 20 mattrasses, mosquito nets and sheet sets.

Keep on rocking, Musafir!