countin' the days

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pole Pole, it's Africa

I couldn't have been more ready to leave Kenya. Bright and early the Monday
following our climb, we hopped on a bus headed all the way from Nairobi, Kenya to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It also happened to be February 5, my 25th birthday. I spent the whole damn thing on a neverending 16-hour ride, the last few hours of which were in rather frightening darkness; but hey, at least I can always say it was the only birthday I spent in TWO countries on the same day. Not bad.

Still desperate for some serious chill time, the next morning we kept on going, and hightailed it to the Dar airport to catch an early afternoon flight to the island of Zanzibar. (For those of you who've asked: yes, Zanzibar does in fact exist, and at times is equally as exotic as its name.) We decided to head straight for the east coast beaches, but alas endured a tad more stress before finally making it anywhere near a beach... we hopped on a dalla-dalla, at first extremely amused by the stops around town to deliver bundles of sticks which were piled about 6 feet high on the roof to various neighborhoods. Next thing we knew, we were racing another dalla-dalla (competition, I guess), and our driver purposely crashed into the other vehicle, knocking off its mirror and hitting a biker on the side of the road. Suddenly it was a full-on street fight, with people coming out of nowhere to yell, push, bang on the vehicles, and generally get all riled up (about ... what?). Anyway, we narrowly got outta that mess and hopped on another bus, crammed in with all our bags and about 20 too many people. I can't tell you how nice the super fine sand, bright sunshine, hot breezes, and warm turquoise water felt to our weary souls... until Joe got brutally stung by a jellyfish 30 seconds after wading into the water. And there went our east coast Indian Ocean swimming. It is, after all, Africa; nothing's easy.

After a few days of taking it very, very easy, we headed back to Stone Town for the remainder of our Zanzibari adventure. Our luck changed for the extreme better when we found an affordable hostel that came with a nice breezy balcony, our own bathroom, and AIR CONDITIONING! I'm not one for the luxuries, but good God I needed this one. And Stone Town is a really fantastic place. We also had the extreme good fortune of timing our visit perfectly with a completely free Swahili music festival right in town! For 4 days, we enjoyed a huge sampling of African music, from the most traditional to the most modern fusions, from taarab to hip hop, reggae to Rwandan, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was fabulous.

When not dancing to great free music for the last few days, we could also be found eating lots of Italian gelato, sleeping peacefully among our air conditioning, coming up with creative ways to cover up my body just enough to both not insult the Muslims and survive the intense tropical humidity, and enjoying the delicious and shockingly cheap seafood feast laid out by the fishermen each evening in a local park. And also, getting ready & excited for tomorrow's journey to a new part of this crazy continent: South Africa!

1 comment:

Victoria said...

your travels and adventures inspire me and give me hope.

i'm dying for another blog entry from you!!!!