So the following post was written on Sunday but since electricity, internet connections and general life not going the way you plan, I am only now able to post it. Again sorry for the lack of pictures…..wish that camera cable had made it into my bag.
Enjoy ;-)
I want to share my last 24 hours to better familiarize yourself with my
experience here in Zanzibar.
After jerryrigging my mosquito net to hopefully keep those nasty buggers out last night, I tried to sleep in the consuming heat and humidity. You can sleep with the fan on above you and wake up with an odd chill or sleep drenched in your own sweat without. Honestly it’s a tough call but I tend to go without.
So last night was one of those nights I slept with the fan on. Yes the fan has this annoying clicking sound that can be heard through ear plugs but that was
honestly the least of my worries. Approx at 4:45AM (pre-Mosque prayer siren or announcement) Sunday morning I am awoken by the loudest engine rumble I have heard since I lived in Madison, WI. It was so low and so loud that my apartment shook below me. If that weren’t bad enough, the guy driving it decided it was cooler to leave the engine running, keeping that good sound going while letting every particle of exhaust into my apartment windows in the process. I had woken up with a cough (maybe the fan) and the exhaust was making it much worse. After 45 minutes I was furious and ready to throw a crowbar at his window. Oddly enough that is not very African, let alone Zanzibarian. So what else is there to do about the situation at 6:00AM? You leave your house.
I got dressed in my most modest clothes that were breathable and headed
toward a strip of beach somewhat near my house to go run. No leisurely jog
mind you but to run…….run hard because my Swahili never feels like it is good
enough, my place on this island is something between a tourist and that of a
native, for being so sick from my amoeba last week and basically to run because
in Africa I have little if any control over very much. Pretty sure my Liver qi has
been so squelched from all of the above since I arrived and only today was I really able to realize it. All thanks to Mr. Exhaust man :-)
Once I reached the beach I ran, close to 30 mins on the sand which is a crazy
stretch since I haven’t run in months. The beaches were filled with all these
happy, shinning people doing morning stretches, running and playing games with one another. I’m not talking about just men either. There were women of all ages fully dressed in their proper head scarfs and full coverage running on the beach, and moving their qi. I ran past a group playing hand ball and one guy says ‘hey mzungo (which means foreigner, aka ‘whitie’) come play!’ So I did. I jumped in and played hand ball with about 30 other people on the beach. It was great although I didn’t have a jersey on and the other team threw the ball to me as my hands were out. This caused my teammates to jump for joy and the opposing team to
freak out and start yelling like hell!!! Finally someone gave me a jersey so there would be no more confusion and all was well. In the end, the people were so happy and joyous (I have no idea who won, didn’t really matter I suppose) and everyone gave big handshakes and thanks of ‘nzuri!’ which means good.
Then the rest of the days adventures began!
Not wanting to spend another weekend day in Stone Town or my apartment, I
decided to be a bit adventurous. I took a daladala to Mbweni ruins about 7km
outside of Stone Town. This was a big step for me as I have only taken taxis or been driven by locals so I was feeling pretty liberated and free. I arrived at the ruins to find that the ruins are actually part of a hotel now. I walked the area and ended up staying for the better part of the day. Beautiful beach, nice food and of course the sun :-) Today (as sad as it may sound) was my first day swimming in the ocean after having been here for 2 weeks!!!!! I’m not sure why the hell it took me so long…I have waded a bunch of times but not swam. I think it has more to do with the fact that the culture is primarily Muslim and I really don’t like showing much skin in this country as it’s forbidden for local women.
At any rate, I loved it! After my dip I got a call from a friend whom I met while
traveling to Zanzibar (he grew up on the island but now lives in Europe) and he
wanted to meet up back in Stone Town. Just as I was leaving the hotel and
walking back to the main road a daladala shows up to whisk me back. While on the daladala, I start talking to a couple of other wazungi (multiple white people) and come to find out that they are international doctors from the hospital that I am volunteering at and have lived here for the last 8 months. They took my email and said that they would get me in touch with a few other medical students so that I can expand my friend base while here. And they said the best way to learn Swahili is to ride the daladalas :-) Yay!
Once back in Stone Town I met up with my friend and we get on another daladala to a smaller city outside of the main city. He takes me to meet with his long time friends. The tone of the town is much less crazy, less garbage and the people are definitely limited with their English words so more Swahili for me. After meeting with his friends, I am invited to my first in home Zanzibarian meal. We had rice and beans, fried squid and a potato and okra based soup/sauce to put over it.
Very tasty :-) The people here have been so inviting and loving. They give
whatever they have, which is not much, and are so very proud of what they do
By the end of the day I had taken 5 daladalas, eaten some amazing local food, had at least 7 different conversations in Swahili (attempted!) and pretty much worked out every angry once of energy I woke up with.
Looking back, I never would have been able to accomplish so much in just one day had it not been for that noisy, exhaust-ridden car waking me up at the break of dawn. Without it I am sure I would never have had such an amazing and transformative day :-) Thank you wherever you are you gas guzzling machine.