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.  

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