June 26, 2014

Day 38 (my favorite ocean)

The final days in Zanzibar were lazy days.  These days in my journal don't even attempt full sentences:

Lying on the sunny beach in Nungwi, Zanzibar.  Like Diani, sand so fine that it almost feels like dirt.  Or silk.  More reminders that I'm on familiar terrain, close to Kenya, close to home.

The encroaching tide

Days were spent sitting by the ocean with beers, and nights the same.  Perhaps some reading, perhaps a swim.  Some fine dinners and local dancing.  A snorkel if you're ambitious.  It was a time to recharge, to exhale.  To be off the bus.  A time to enjoy the natural beauty of my favorite ocean, the Indian.

Beautiful shore

Fancy restaurant bar

Fishing nets drying in the sun

Boats, Boats, Boats!

Tide and pebble patters

By night, the same
(Photo credit: Irina Chernetskaya)

One morning, overcast and breezy, I waked along the shore collecting shells.  White and brown and purple, some whole others broken bits.  It's the only time I can remember ever doing that, slighty guilted by the echo of old aphorisms, "take only memories; leave only footprints."  Writing this a year later, they still live in a ziplock baggie in the drawer by my bed, awaiting a next move.

A blustery wander

Hello, old friends

Napping on my kanga-turned-towel I tried to let them dry, but high tide crept up and submerged us all, journal included.  So I brought home not only the shells, but some Indian Ocean salt on this paper.

June 24, 2014

Day 36 (some places familiar)

Sitting by the water in Stone Town, Zanzibar, not far from where I sat in 2011 when some local kids were utterly scandalized by my being unmarried at 27.  Am now unmarried at nearly 29, and I wonder where they are.

This morning was the bus from our campsite to downtown Dar, and then the ferry from Dar to Zanzibar.  This group is trying my patience.  People have begun to crack open under the time and stress of travel and togetherness.  No one appreciates the crush of the local crowd onto the ferry.  They liken it unfavorably to the wildebeest migration across the Mara river.  One eagerly anticipates the end of his trip and a return to "normalcy." This perhaps is the problem with overlanding.  There is a start to finish trajectory, with completion as the goal.  And no one realizes that it's better to enter the ferry swept along by the push of the crowd than to be crushed in resistance.  

I spent the afternoon (post-delicious coconut fish curry) walking the alleyways of Stone Town, Some places familiar, others foreign.  I remembered wandering these alleys, off the beaten tourist path, the last time I was here, but today felt more intimate in a somewhat uncomfortable way.  The twisty backroads of Stone Town are roughly divided into 4 different areas: the waterfront, the tourist shops, the local shops selling fabric and appliances, and the local houses.  Today I found myself among people's homes.  Seeing mothers cooking, laundry hanging, doors ajar, I felt as though I'd inadvertently invaded someone's privacy, and was oft abashed to take photos.  

I returned to the waterfront in the evening, to the magnetic pull of dusk swims in tropical settings, and watched young men perform acrobatic jumps from the wall into the water.  

Look for the jumper!

Grills were set for the seafood market, music was drifting, skewers were cooking.  Dusky lights.  I sat in the spot where I'd seen the streetlamps lit by sunset two years earlier, but I didn't try to replicate the illusion, lest it not be as good as the memories.  

By night, there were group drinks at a swanky rooftop bar, and then there were just the few, whittling away the hours and the beers, sitting outside on the cool sand throughout the forgotten hours of night, talking beneath stars about things almost said.