June 26, 2012

A relaxing holiday in Zanzibar

It took me a few days, but at last I’m getting used to this place. I spend my time reading, sleeping and sometimes eating, can I ask for more?

It was a bit of a shock at the beginning. I ended up in this resort full of white people that spend their days sunbathing, drinking cocktails and playing beach volley. At first I wanted to flee. It felt like I was in any European beach, if it wasn’t for the green waters of the ocean. The place is lovely, but this is not exactly how I like to spend my holidays abroad; I like to move and meet locals, eat with them.

Walking towards Nungwi, the nearby town, the beach is lined with hotels and Italian holiday villages. It’s so far from the Tanzania I was used to! I’ve actually been here for 5 days, and could stay longer, because

  1. breakfast is great
  2. I’m tired of carrying backpacks.

The annoying part is that I can’t find any local restaurant. Only places for tourists, a bit expensive (4-5 euro per dish). There are a couple of local restaurants, but the menu is beans and krapfen or krapfen and beans, lighten up by the feeble light of an oil lamp; I went there a few times, but I miss Stone Town soups.

To avoid spending too much money for food I’m eating as much as I can for breakfast, as it is included in the dorm price, but it doesn’t help, because at one I’m hungry again. So this morning I tried to have breakfast a bit later, maybe I can resist until 3, when they start serving fried chips that are cheaper and can calm my hunger; in the evening I will have to spend the usual 4 euro for dinner.

The resort is lovely, there are nice sunbeds where you can lay in the sun and burn your butts (luckly it’s often cloudy; during the only 30 minutes that the sun was out I got sunburnt), and there are few people bothering you. The “Beach boys“, guys that sell boat tours, snorkelling, t-shirts, scarves, huge shells and tattoos, can’t enter the resort borders, signed with a line of palm trees. But they can call your attention by talking to you, waiting for hours holding their goods until someone finds the strength to lift their pink butts from the sunbed, and of course they come to you as soon as you cross the border.

The ocean is beautiful but I don’t bath very often because there are many jellyfish that scare me, even though they say they don’t hurt. In the evening you can stay at the beach here or go to the “Raggea Bar”, just outside the resort, the non-touristic place with most clients here in Kendwa, probably because it’s the only one. I went there a couple of times to eat chips, and there’s always somebody drinking and smoking, at any time of the day.

Here too there are people offering to take me to my next destination, with the promise of an unforgettable holiday and to experience the true Zanzibar with local people. I listen because I’m polite and I keep silent, I don’t know how to answer anymore.

One of the kids that work at the reception told me that he’s very disappointed because last night I didn’t go back to him. He had to talk to me.

“About what?”.

“About my NGO. I have this project about teaching kids at kindergarten and I needed your opinion.”

I don’t know what kind of opinion I could give him about teaching to kids, and why my opinion would be more useful than those of his real friends, but now I have lost his trust and there’s nothing more I can do.

Kendwa beach zanzibar

6.15pm. The sun is setting on the ocean in front of Kendwa. Everybody rushes to the beach to take a picture. But no picture can reproduce the magic of this moment, the calm and energy at the same time. I’m drinking a Sex on the Beach while I enjoy the last rays of sun (the only indulgence I allow myself), but I don’t think it’s the drink that gives me the shivers.

Today it was sunny almost the whole time, for the first time in 6 days, but I don’t think I got much darker. A guy is playing a bongo with his back leaning on a pole and his eyes looking at the red ball that is now the sun. What is he thinking? Do I really want to leave tomorrow? To go somewhere that has no sunset on the ocean but only sunrises? I got used to wake up at 7am, but it’s already too late for sunrise.

kendwa sunset zanzibar

6.43pm. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I can’t socialize with other Mzungo. They are playing beach volley and I would really like to join them, but I can’t get closer. I usually find the excuse that they’re even players in the teams, but this time they are not; and still I can’t approach them.

Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll be able to leave? This morning I had my rucksack packed but when I came to the beach to have breakfast I couldn’t leave. I’m worried I might miss the sunset, as I’m going to the Eastern coast, but if it is so, I can still go back earlier to Stone Town, where I know the places to eat well at good prices.

It’s also the music that keeps me here. From the beach club there is always nice music, in particular during the day, Buddha Bar style, while in the evening it’s more dance. Like now, when my butts are on the chair, but the rest of my body is moving. It’s a song I’ve heard in Italy too, I don’t know who the artist is, someone like Rihanna, but in Italy I never had this reaction.

Music plays all day long, a part from today, because there was a black out that continues. They have a generator for black outs, but apparently they don’t use it during the day, when there is enough light.

kendwa beach at sunset

Two Italian girls are trying to order their dinner from a table next to mine.

Tonight a boy is waiting for me at the Raggae Bar, another one at the reception, two here at the beach. To avoid disappointing one of them I think I’ll go to bed early.

It’s 7.28pm. I should go to the restaurants or there will be no beans left for me.

Mwanda. He’s just introduced himself while I was plugging in my notebook. He lives 2 kilometers South from here, in a hut along the beach, and he’s happy it’s soon full moon because the solar panel that he uses to make electricity isn’t very helpful and he doesn’t have much light in the home. This reminds me that Saturday there will be the “Full Moon party” right here. People will come from all over Zanzibar for the occasion. Even more than usual, Mwanda tells me, because it’s the last party before Ramadan. I must go before that. To live he raises hens and goats, while some women grow seaweeds on the beach in front of his home. He lived in Germany, but after 7 years he missed Zanzibar, which is not surprising. The see is too cold there. He has also offered to take me to the Eastern coast, even though I had just told him this is exactly the reason why I don’t smile much to people here.

I’ve already seen two shooting stars. I’m on the beach, in a place where internet connection is slightly better; but the notebook battery is very low. And mosquitos are biting me no-stop. I had grilled calamari for dinner, with rice and chips. Really good. Before saying goodbye, because he realised I was very busy, he suggested I use lemongrass to keep mosquitos away.

Ok, good night.

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