March 16, 2014. 10am
Sunday (but it could be any day for us)
BAHIA DE LAS AGUILAS
Green water and white sand. Yes, we definitely are in the Caribbeans. One of those beaches you could see in postcards, if there still were postcards. This beach is so beautiful because it’s in a National Park and you can only get here by renting a boat (or with your yacht, like the English couple we met here, who are doing a tour of the Caribbeans).
You can only come on a day trip, there are no restaurants nor anything else, so the chances to find basura (rubbish) is low, and probably someone comes to clean from time to time.
We paid 2500 pesos to come here from Pedernales, about 40 euro. Not bad, considering that in Los Patos a travel agency that works with Giordano asked us 90 US dollars, so we saved about 100 euro. “The best money we’ve spent so far”, said Luca. It is true and it definitely deserves a visit.
We were the first to arrive and took place in the shade of one of the few trees that are on the beach.
This morning we had breakfast in a street in Pedernales with something that looked like a sweet potato, but it wasn’t sweet, it was disgusting, maybe dried and salty fish, and something very good, pig with rind.
A boat full of Dominicans has just arrived. We should go for a stroll now, before it gets too crowded. It’s Sunday, it will probably get busy later on.
We came here on a motorbike, 3 on the same bike. On the paved road it wasn’t bad. The last 6 kilometers on gravel were painful. Pedernales, a region of red soil, that they use to make aluminum and concrete. There’s a factory not far from the beach.
15.22 So beautiful. We got sun burned even though we put the sunscreen 3 times and stayed in the shade. We probably got burned during the walk and the time spent in the water.
Against all odds we were almost alone all the time. From time to time a boat would arrive with a few people, stayed half an hour or one hour and left.
Back to Pedernales. Little snack with sancocho, a soup with pork ribs and potatoes, really good.
6pm. We are now in the main square of Pedernales. There are two cafes, at about 50 meters one from the other, both with music at very high volume that if you are in the middle you can’t hear well of any, a mix of the two. Fortunately a car stopped between the two cafes, took out two huge speakers and we can now listen to that music, even though you can still hear the other music in the background.
The dominicans: they park their car in the street, turn the music on at the loudest possible volume, take down a few chairs and sit there, chatting on the pavement or in the square. Today it’s Sunday, so they wear wedges and heels and miniskirts. I just love them.
The sun is still shining, but we are burnt and keep away.
Welcome home, in Jambiani
July 2, 2012
When you wake up at 6 am to watch the sunrise, you don’t expect to be alone, but at least quiet. Here at that time the village was wide awake. At the beach there were women picking shells, a guy that to save money slept on the sunbed where I usually get my tan during the day, while in the street the first dalla-dalla to Stone Town drove by honking and a seller of I don’t know what played his trumpette to inform of his arrival,
“Karibu Nyumbani”, Welcome home, said Leonard when last night I came back from my beach patrolling. I’m in Jambiani, on the South-Eastern coast of Zanzibar. In fact after the first three hours in which I thought that three days here would have been super boring, I regretted I didn’t arrive earlier. It’s the first time I visit a country where I fall in love with every place. I couldn’t decide where to live. I like Stone Town for its lively atmosphere, the cafes, the good and varied food at reasonable prices, the lovely people; I love Jambiani because it’s so quiet and the people are lovely too.
The Kimte, the hotel where I’m staying, is like a large family. They are all siblings, not of blood, but they all live together happy and relaxed. They have breakfast with a pot and don’t stop until it’s time to go to bed. And they spoil me: one offers me a fresh fruit juice, another a slice of sweet pineapple, the other a bunch of potpourri that he did himself that smells delicious. There’s a boy with big smart eyes, Karim. Cappuccino, they call him, his father is a black man with dreads and his mother is from Sicily. He’s also spoiled from all the uncles and aunties he has here. And there’s a cute dog with a huge head that when you stretch your hand to cuddle him, he puts his paw on it. Sweet! This morning while I was on the hammock waiting for my breakfast, Bighead started barking against a shell. I had found one I liked that I wanted to take home, but the crab that was inside took it away from me (now I know you shouldn’t take shells from the beach).
To come here from Kendwa I had to take a dalla-dalla to Stone Town and another one from there, for a total of 4 hours, for a distance of about 50 kilmeters (30 miles). At one point on the dalla-dalla someone put a baby girl on my lap, about 2 weeks old. I thought I had to keep her while her mum got on the dalla-dalla, but no one asked her back. So I sat for one hour with this cute little dumpling on my lap, without knowing if the mother was actually on the bus; I was already thinking on how I could hide her to cross the borders. Yes, the mother was there (or sister, I don’t know) and took her back at one point. Here children always go on laps of strangers when they are on buses, but I didn’t think they would put one on a mzungo‘s lap! And what if she fell with all those shakes?
Jambiani is a village stretching for about 5 kilometers along a road by the ocean. You can swim only with high tide, a couple of hours per day. A few kilometers from the beach there’s a natural reef. With the low tide you can walk there, among seaweeds and mussel plantations. It looks like a lunar landscape with the low tide, there are many small craters full of water.
I watched the match against Germany on the beach, with a couple from Germany. At every goal by Balotelli Tanzanians got super excited. Because he’s a brother. But they also had fun when the German goalkeeper started to be “cheesy” running to the middle of the field. They were laughing a lot. And it was very cold. I wore a sweatshirt and had to sit next to the fire, with the smoke making my eyes cry. It’s June, super hot in Italy, and I go to Zanzibar to be cold? They really like fires in the beach here. It’s their favorite show, as most don’t have a tv at home. In Kendwa they also lit a bonfire every night, and there were always locals around it, while westerners were at the pub getting drunk (or sleeping, if they had little money, like me).
Last night Leonard asked me to go with him to a place. While we were walking I found out it was his home we were going to, where he had to take some honey for the cocktails. His house is weird. It looks like an egg with two poiting ends, white walls and a straw roof. Inside there are two small rooms and a bathroom. To cook he lits a fire outside. The house is basic, like all the others I’ve seen, with only the essential furniture. Two beds and a small closet. The clothes are in a bag. A pair of shoes and flip flops are out of the door, that he locks with a padlock. He doesn’t need much. He left me there while he went to arrange goats and chickens and to fart. He gave me some Jasmine flowers that he keeps in the garden; he uses them to freshen up the house. I wonder when was the last time he took some inside, because I could only smell mold.
Last night there were about ten people around the bonfire. A couple were playing the bongo while someone was singing a song with words created on the spot, and the others replied in chorus. There was Jacob, a maasai about 20 years old, that told me about his lion Mwobu, that he raised for 16 years feeding him only milk. He called him Mwobu that means “I cut and opened the stomach and took you out”, which is what he did. He took him from his mother’s womb after killing her because she ate his cows.
I’m gonna miss Zanzibar and Tanzania.
June 8, 2012
I’m in Mtwara, the southernmost town along the coast. From here you can go to Mozambique, during the rain season, when the boat can cross the river Ruvuma that separates the two countries.
I was expecting a big city, but it’s a little more than a village, with few things to do. The main attraction is the fish market, at the beach, where early in the morning and in the late afternoon there are fish auctions. Fishermen take their kayak and go to a nearby peninsula to fish, and when they are back they put the catch of the day on display and they sell it to the best offerer. I got there last night by mistake. Because I find it difficult to navigate this town. There are two main roads and hundreds of other tiny alleys that are not on Lonely Planet map and the place where I am staying is out of the map. To go back to the hotel I followed the sun, that at that time showed me the West direction. Luckily I’m a natural navigator.
The market is so nice! A fisherman saw me taking a picture of him. He didn’t get upset, on the contrary, he started smiling.
Last night a Mozambican boy wrote me a love letter. Half broken English, half Portuguese. And today in the afternoon while I was at this café looking for shelter from the midday heat, another guy speaking only a few words in English was able to tell me that he wanted to be my “friend” and take me on the next destinations of my trip. He was good looking, and I could have learnt some Swahili, but I dismissed the offer. Of course he asked why I don’t have children. He has two, but no wife. Wife is trouble. A Mzungo might be a better option. It’s quite common here to have children and be single. For this reason when they talk to me they are not surprised that I’m not married, but that I don’t have children.
For the first time since I’m in Tanzania I am staying in a place far from the bus station. Usually I prefer to stay in the town centre, so that I can go around on foot. But I really needed to sleep well after three days of travel that exhausted me. And here it’s lovely. There’s a café and a restaurant, quite expensive (last night I ate here and I paid 7 euro!!! Tonight at a local restaurant I had dinner for 50 cents), that has always some clients. Wealthy clients, that can afford these prices. And foreigners. Anyway, I slept really well. The place is run by a Polish lady, that was married to a Tanzanian man, now dead. She speaks Swahili better than English, I’m so jealous!
Today I wanted to wake up early to go to the market, but didn’t make it. I woke up at 7am and went there taking my time. I had breakfast with chapati and chai. Delicious! I saw my nice fisherman again (I recognized him from the cloths and the hat). Then walked a bit around town, guided by Marami, that is from Dar Es Salaam and is studying Engineering here. Apparently he had nothing better to do. Well, I managed to orienteer myself a bit better in the labyrinth of alleys. We spent an hour at the café while I was writing and reading my guidebook and he was doing nothing. They have a different way of spending the time here, they are used to do nothing. They wait for the bus for two hours or more without anything to read to kill the time. At the restaurant they wait for half an hour for some chips, looking at the void. They sit in front of their home cheerfully welcoming the two buses that drive by during the day. They spend one hour in a café looking at an Italian girl writing her travel journal. It’s a different approach to life. I am not even able to watch a movie without doing something else at the same time, like a jigsaw puzzle or a crosswords. When traveling luckily I always have a notebook with me. So I fill my diaries with stupid things, because I don’t always have something interesting to write about.
There was a power cut. It’s quite common here. I was walking with Marami, and I asked him if he ever goes swimming to the beach near town. No, he doesn’t like swimming and he can’t do it. He likes playing football. Not today though, he’s not feeling well. “What’s wrong?”. “I have malaria”, he replies. Like this, as if it was a cold.
5pm It’s very hot today. Luckily in the street there are some orange vendors, they are so refreshing and sweet! I’m at the beach. An annoying mosquito devastated my ankles with its bites. I’m so jealous of that boy bathing! Even if I had a bathing suit I wouldn’t go in because here women don’t bath, and if they do they do it all dressed. Further away a boy is doing some flips. He’s training to do somersaults. He’s got a great body. As a child I also enjoyed doing flips like this. Maybe if I trained enough I could have learnt better. I rememer that at middle school I did a flip without touching the mattress with my hands and the teacher scolded me. And on mum’s bed I did some big flips. I ran from the bathroom and up on the bed with a nice flip. But I ended on the bed on my back, not on my feet. Flips always fascinated me. Maybe for this reason I find this guy particularly cool. Now he’s doing some splits in the air. And 4 flips one after the other. Wow. I want to do that too.
I’m afraid I’ll have to wait until I’m in Zanzibar to bath.
10.27 pm There must be a church nearby. I can hear Halleluja and other gospels. At this time? Tonight for dinner I had ugali with beans and vegetables. I had to ask for a spoon because I can’t understand how to eat the beans. You should squash the ugali (that looks like a potato mash but tastes like… nothing) with your hands, to make it more compact, but how do I put the beans in the middle? While I was having dinner two guys took me company. When they heard I am catholic they invited me to go to the University church next weekend. When I told them I’m not going to church they were very disappointed, even more than my father. They probably take religion very seriously here.
There’s a tiny lizard hiding near my backpack. If she wants to come illegaly to Italy, she’s welcome. But she’s informed that Cagliostro will enjoy her a lot.