musings on travel, international living, development aid, politics, turkey (the country more than the meat) and anything else that comes to mind...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 9-12 - Paradise

After Stone Town, Lauren and I left this earth (everywhere else) and journeyed to paradise (Sun and Seaview Bungalows) on the east coast of Zanzibar's largest island. Instead of boring you with the glorious redundancy of our daily routine (sleep, eat, lay on the beach, swim, eat, swim, lay on the beach, nap, swim, etc.), I've decided to break the description of our time on the beaches of Zanzibar up by characters.

Federico: Our heavily-accented host welcomed us upon arrival and responded to our every need (read: snorkelling) with ease and efficiency. He even readily offered up his own personal satellite internet card without hesitation. An Italian from Torino (Turin), he had moved to Zanzibar five years ago, presumably after marrying a beautiful Kenyan woman, to try his hand at living in paradise. Only five months ago he took over this place and is well on his way to making it one of Zanzibar's premier getaways. Not the outright owner but basically the outright operator, Federico and his wife (we think they spoke English with one another) enjoyed candlelight dinners and listened to soft European cafe music in the lounge each evening.

Federico's wife: Yes, she has a name but sadly I did not catch it. We first met her when she was holding Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father." Like most Kenyans (she was from Nairobi), she was infatuated with our Barry and lit up when Lauren informed her she lived about 1km from the White House. Also like most Kenyans with whom we discussed this topic, she hoped desperately that Obama would live up to the hopes Africans have for him. Unlike the others; however, this obviously well-educated woman hoped that, more than dollars and cents aid, Obama would inspire Africa's leaders in the way he has inspired so many in America. Maybe then these Africans would truly be interested more in the well-being of their people and less about doing whatever it takes to stay in power.

Emmanuel: Originally hailing from a village in the shadows of Mt. Kilimanjaro on mainland Tanganika (what Tanzania used to be called before unification with Zanzibar), Emmanuel was one of two Africans helping Federico run the place. More so than Said (the other); however, we got the sense that Federico was grooming Emmanuel to run things without him. Well-dressed, polite, and very attentive as he was, I could see why. Goodness knows how this man went from being a nature guide on Kili to Sun and Seaview, but whatever the case, I got the sense that he was happy to be there.

Said: The quiet one and coincidentally the son of the real owner, Said was the only one of the crew actually from Zanzibar. His father owned the place and apparently Federico had decided to keep him on when he took over. Life seemed a bit slower for the deep-voiced Said, perhaps the only true islander with whom we had the chance to chat. His biggest contribution to our stay was to teach Lauren how to play Bau, a Mancala-like game that Lauren soon conquered, leaving Said and me in her tracks.

Shaggy: If Shaggy wasn't the star of your show, he would soon figure out a way to be. Always there to receive some loving from the muzungus (white people), Shaggy 'protected' Sun and Seaview and became instantly jealous of any other dogs on his territory. Except his girlfriend - she was allowed to stay as long as she didn't seek our affection. His shining moments were protecting his turf against another very cute dog (shh, don't tell Shaggy I said that) and giving a wandering cow on the beach 'the business' for no apparent reason, the second of which earned him a few thoughtful 'bravos' from Federico.

Mark: At first it was very difficult to figure out what language Mark, our snorkelling guide, was speaking or where he was from. For those of you that know me, you understand how frustrating that is for me. Turns out that we didn't figure it out because he was speaking multiple languages to different people - French to the French smoker scuba diving off our boat, Italian to the young female trainee scuba-er, and English to us.

"I guess that's what an international relations degree and German/Italian parents will get you."

Indeed. Apparently this killer combination also gets you the opportunity to run the Buccaneer Diving outfit in Paje and spend your days between the whitest sandy beaches in the world and the fascinating underwater world of exotic fish and coral reefs that hide beneath Zanzibar's multiple shades of crystal clear blue water. Tough life indeed.

Crabs: So this character is actually a whole host of characters that provided hours of non-stop entertainment to Lauren... and subsequently to me as I enjoyed watching her get excited about them. As I alternated between writing in my journal and napping while on the beach, Lauren would spend goodness-knows how much time checking out the different types of crabs on the beach. Who knew she was so easily amused?! (Don't answer that question if you value your friendship with Lauren.) To be fair, the crabs were interesting, white as the sand and continually digging deeper holes in which to reside. They would disappear when the very occasional passerby would unwittingly walk through downtown Crabville, but that didn't happen very often because Lauren and I were the only people staying at our little piece of heaven. This afforded Lauren ample viewing time and plenty of opportunities to use an obscure South Park reference to crab people (apparently they taste like crab but walk like people).

Zanzibar, you will be sorely missed.