We designed and built UtupoaUpepo, our new beach tower, as a song of praise for the local ngalawa sailing culture. You sleep on its top floor, cradled from and by a sea breeze, as close to Matemwe's dazzling beach high-water mark as you could ever hope to be. In Swahili, upepo is the nautical term for 'wind', the word ngalawa sailors habitually use for their point of sail: to sail against the wind, for example, is kupinga upepo. But if you search an English Swahili Dictionary you will also see that pepo means 'paradise'.
We also designed UtupoaUpepo with romance in the air and we wanted to give two people the private, exclusive and secure space of a tower, situated as close as possible to the sea, with three floors, where all of the space is yours and yours alone.
The blues and circles and bubbles of the quirky bottom floor are to suggest an underwater experience and, if you look up, you will see the hulls of two ngalawa floating above you. Here you can have a warm shower after an afternoon swim in the sea or sit quietly at midnight, make yourself a mango smoothie and listen to the reef roaring lowly though the portholes.
Climb the sand-coloured staircase as though you are going up for air and then, before you on the tower's middle level, a resting place with its own bar and music system, open to the breeze and in greens for the most part, here it is: Matemwe's glorious beach panorama.
And so to the eyrie, the lovers' nest. Up the staircase as you climb, feel mangrove polished hard by mud and salt, until you reach the warm, red cocoon which is your en suite bedroom on the top floor. The bed itself is pure ngalawa, carved out of a mango tree and bearing still the swells and scars of its recent history. The boat's prow provides stowage and the two outriggers make a frame for the window which is all upepo and a view which, as you lie in bed, will surely take your breath away.