December 5, 2011

The best time

Night time is the best time in Zanzibar.  

Clove Hotel balconies

The famed doors

It's an island known for spices, ornately carved doorways, Swahili culture, coconut curries, and a dark history as an integral hub in the east African slave trade.  The air is hot and sticky, a place where you may shower thrice in a day and still feel dirty.  As I am used to feeling dirty because I haven't showered in three days and have been wearing the same pair of pants all week (because my alternate pair has been quarantined due to suspicious bug issues), this island heat feels like a long lost memory.  What I thought living in Kenya would be like but never was.   So evening, which brings respite from at least the sun, and preferably after a siesta on the covered rooftop terrace overlooking the sea, is preferable for exploring.  

Nighttime also features beautiful lights and silhouettes.  The hotel I'm at is basic with charm.  Sponge-painted lilac walls and warm stairwell lanterns.  

From the inside

I probably spent my first 10 minutes in town admiring and photographing these lanterns, until GHAAAAAA, it's a preying mantis!  


Due to Kenya Airways technical difficulties, it was already dark when I arrived.  Dark during the taxi ride from the airport, with the windows down and hot salty air blowing in.  Having spent the day in the Nairobi airport, my blood sugar levels were demanding some food, now, so off I went.  The waterfront food stalls that appear at dusk were already in full swing as I wandered down for a 10pm dinner.  Fresh seafood, toasted coconut bread, and sugarcane/ginger drink at your fingertips.  

Chefs at the night food mart

You can sit on the wall with your legs dangling over the sea, able to smell the salt and hear the waves, but unable to see any evidence of water.  

Last night, I got to the shore in time to appreciate the sundown, with brilliant colors and the entire town hurtling themselves into the sea.  

Sunlit street lamps

Dusky swim

I was also able to attract some uninvited attention in the form of being coerced into teaching an impromptu English class to a group of middle-school-ish boys.  Specifically, they wanted to know the difference between sleeves and arms.  Simple enough.  But then they wanted to talk about pants.  Why are "sleeves" just the part that your arm goes through, whereas "pants" refer to the garment in it's entirety?  And lest you think that was the trickiest question of the night, they progressed to "What's your country's orphan situation?"  and "Are you married?  How old are you?"  Upon hearing that I am unmarried at 27, one boy's eyes got really wide, and he let out an involuntary little "aEEeep!" sound.  I'm sure a reaction not all that dissimilar to mine upon noticing an arm-sized preying mantis above my head.  Perhaps our life and circumstances are all on the receiving end of someone else's horror somewhere in the world.  

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