Zanzibar, Stone Town, Jambiani, Uroa, Paje, Dar es Salaam
30.09.2011 - 09.10.2011
I am back on the mainland of Tanzania now in Dar es Salaam, enjoying a day in my lovely, CLEAN (when I walk around inside my feet don’t turn black)air conditioned room while it is raining outside. I hear there isn't all that much to experience of Dar besides a mugging so I don’t feel like I’m missing out, to be honest I probably would not have done anything if it was a nice day anyway.
I have just finished my afternoon binge session of vegemite biscuits and other homely snacks. The sour worms didn’t stand a chance once they were open, nor did the mentos (unfortunately didn’t win the instant $25,000 competition, so no extending the holiday), and the licorice bullets’ numbers are dwindling. I’m up to date on all the Hollywood gossip now and can put on some thongs that don’t have an invisible thorn stabbing me in the heel all day. Later I might even put on a hair treatment and paint my nails! Thanks Mum & Dad!! Great care parcel. I thought I was saying ‘wonderful’ in Swahili to the Fedex man on the phone when he said he would drop it at my hotel, but I think I may have said something different, as he cracked into hysterical laughter and it was about 2 minutes of “sorry” and continued laughter before he could compose himself. I couldn’t find it in my Swahili dictionary but I am interested to see what I have said to him haha. I know some words are very similar, such as the words for cucumber and butt, and I once told someone “I would like to go for a shit (kunya )” instead of a drink (kunywa) which he found pretty amusing. But I can laugh back at him when he says ‘virgin’ instead of ‘version’.
It was VERY hard to leave Zanzibar yesterday. I was feeling very at home in Stone Town. It was nice last night not to have a power failure, as every night in Stone Town the power would be cut off for about 20minutes just before 7pm. I was told that a couple of years ago the power was out for 3 months so everyone still has that at the back of their mind when it goes off.
Last Sunday I went to Paje beach for the day. The beach was beautiful, and kite surfing seems to be the thing to do. It is lined with resorts and bungalows, and compared to all of the other beaches I have been to here, pretty busy with tourists. I think of all the other days I have had on the East Coast, I have only seen 4 or 5 other tourists. Monday I wanted a full day at Jambiani beach, as I had to be back in Stone Town at 6pm to meet 2 of the volunteers I will go to Ilongero with. Things don’t happen in a hurry here. We didn’t get to the beach until 2:30! A dalladalla is meant to be the slow way, but even on one of those the trip only takes 1-1 ½ hours. So after the 4 ½ hour mission it was lovely to get into the water. Then it was shocking to them that I had to be somewhere at a certain time….or an hour late anyway as it turned out. Safe to say I said no to any more lifts with friends.
I went back to Jambiani for a night and 2 full days which was so nice and relaxing, although you can’t just lie on the beach in peace as there are kids wanting to sell you coconuts and ladies offering massages and henna tattoo’s….once you say no they will sit down with you for a chat and are shocked I am 23 and not married. Maybe, since I’m getting so old, I should consider taking the advice of my Stone Town hostel laundry lady and agree to marry Rasheed next time he asks “Can I kiss your eyes” haha. I went for a late afternoon bike ride along the beach, and passed about 1000 soccer games! People suddenly emerge as he sun is going down as the fishing boats come in from the day out. Everyone from the villages come down to pick up their fish straight from the boat. The beach gets busy!
On Thursday I went to Uroa Beach for the day. Here I was greeted not with “Hello” or “Jambo” but with “Ciao” as there are so many Italian tourists everyone just assumes all mzungu’s must be Italian. On the dalladalla home, I am sure a new record was set. Inside were 27 adults, 3 toddlers, a chicken and a potato sack of fish, plus hanging off the back were 4 more men. Just when I thought my bottom could not be compacted any more, someone else would get on and shove their butt in. It’s so amusing watching all this. When a larger person waves to get on, everyone sort of shakes their head and smirks and looks around in determination as in “I’m not letting them squeeze in next to me”. But they get on and just stick their butt in someones face and start sitting on them until someone gives in and moves over. I get really nervous every time I see a lot of people on board when I have to get on or off as it is so difficult. Lucky my stop is usually the first on and last off.
The other day a lady left her baby with someone on board while she jumped off to get something at a shop at one bus stop. A few minutes later the driver drove off without her, luckily we managed to get his attention to stop further down the road. The same day, after filling up the vehicle, he drove off, leaving the guys who hang on the back to collect the money, behind. Also just managed to get him to stop for them to catch up and jump on. He driver was obviously in a hurry as the speeds they go sometimes is crazy! And people will still climb onto the roof to start getting their bikes and sacks of cement and flour and piles of sticks ready.
Back in Stone Town, amongst all the backstreets, is Jaw Corner. There is a TV set up for special football games, and men are always gathered here chatting about politics and playing dominoes. One of the homes here sells what I would liken to a Tanzanian version of a Krispy Kreme! They work out to be about 6c each! Only for the fact that I want to save room for the seafood markets for dinner and they don’t keep very well, do I stop at 5 or 6. Sure there are a few bits of dirt specks in them and plenty of cats running about the basket they sit in on the ground sold by a 6 year old girl, but they are DELICIOUS! There are lots of TV corners set up around town where people gather to watch outdoors. It’s really nice and I think the island has a very social and family like culture to it. People are always sitting and lying around together outdoors, obviously to escape the humidity of inside, and especially around the waterfront on a Saturday and Sunday night people are sleeping, families are out, boys are jumping off the wall into the water, girls are in their party outfits – still covered head to toe but maybe with bright tights and a few more sequins.
I like the men of the island also. They are not afraid to carry around palm leaf of weaved bags, wear shell jewellery, hold hands for an entire conversation, sit on the street and listen to Celine Dion “I’m your lady”, and wear colourful floral print sarongs around.
Friday came over pretty wild and windy so I spent some nice time indoors on the net, then met up with my Zanzibari Swahili teacher later and he had spent the afternoon at the Darajani fish market and getting an assortment of seafood – and as a surprise for my last night king prawns! Very sweet so I watched as he whipped up a delicious meal, and made some mental notes on how to cook in an African kitchen. I’d never thought of coconut milk as not having come from a can! We made our own.
Then I had my last night drifting to sleep to the sound of generators, and the rooster who needs a watch – 3am is too early buddy!
A few rocky hours back on the ferry and was back in Dar es Salaam. My hotel is lovely, I haven’t been outside today except to go to get lunch…at the hotel restaurant 10m away. Tomorrow we go to pick up our work permits then to the customs office to get our visas sorted. The organisation I am volunteering for have rented a house for us so it will be so good to have my own space, my own room to decorate (may need my Robbie poster to really make it home) and have a go cooking with whatever food is available at the markets.