DATE: 8 December 2005
CURRENT LOCATION: Johannesburg, South Africa - Diamond Diggers Hostel
GPS COORDINATES: same bat time, same bat channel
Ok, maybe final score - Sudan: 3, Lach: 1.
CAUSE I MADE IT TO ZANZIBAR FOR LOVELY MANDY'S BIRTHDAY!!!
Look at this place!! It's a regular island beach paradise. At first we were planning a few days on the beach and then to head inland to Tanzania for a little safari action. Instead, we were sucked into the vortex of dreamy beach holidaydom
We were up mainly in the north of the island, at a village called Nungwi. We shacked up at a little bungalow spitting distance from the beach and dive centre. On each flank of our special little corner ranged bungalow after bungalow or resorts - pahlease. But our magical corner was palm trees, white sand, perfectly turquoise water. Fishermen headed out for the catch in their dhows or women in groups netting fish in chest deep water. Only a few other tourists and a sprinkling of a few restaurants with a cool bar set organically amongst it all. Really spectacular. Too bad you weren't there!!
But hey, just to prove that we're not beach lazies we felt that we needed to do something constructive, that we needed to achieve some personal developmental whilst getting sunburned and eating delicious seafood for every meal - so we got PADI Open Water Diving Certified!! We're divers now!! Initially the idea of spending days in an environment essentially as hostile as the MOON inspired only terror in me. But it was fantastic. We had a regular underwater safari instead - saw sea turtles, ray, dolphins, octopus (a BIG one!), porshe speed yellow moray eels, fish! fish! fish! coral! coral! coral! Though I had to fend off cleaner fish attempting to nibble on my grizzly hand every dive, my war wounds didn't cause any problem.
I'm not sure if this final skills test is a part of the internationally approved curriculum..? Our instructor, Jergen, was German - maybe it's a German thing? Wow, my Mandy is so ladylike!!
With all this beachdom, I guiltily felt I was perhaps shirking my duties to plunge the depths and widths of this continent's great socio-cultural tides..? Instead, however, other tourists easily became anthropological case studies
like this prize specimen: touristicus-germanus-mulletaneum. Those are 'newspaper print' short shorts, a denim vest, an exceedingly groomed mullet, a bad moustache, and about three cameras dripping from him. Fascinating!!
We did also take in a tour of the island and it's spices. Mandy has just tasted peppercorn straight from the vine.
Isn't she cute when she's convulsing? I bet you'd never know what your nutmeg looks like before it's dried and sent to the jar? If you did, you probably wouldn't eat it. It, in fact, looks like some alien spawn pod fallen upon earth from a meteorite that hides in 'nutmeg' trees until 'they' are ready to come.
Zanzibar is a virtually autonomous state federated with mainland Tanzania. It was for centuries part of the Oman based eastern Africa Sultanate, until eventually falling under British rule as a protectorate. It really is different in many ways from Africa', especially as Islam is the predominant religion. It's food and art and society are an interesting mix of the Arabesque and east Africa, all thrown on the Indian Ocean. It's got a guilty history also as the hub of a massive slave trade system and operation in the 19th century. Stone Town (the 'big' city on the island) made quite an impression as well, the Islamic, Arab, and colonial architecture essentially decaying into the ground as everyone throngs it's narrow, winding passages and streets. I think it's probably been decaying since it was built centuries ago. Overall, Zanzibar really is splendid. A much needed R&R after the trials of Sudan.
As you can see from the postings, I've had over a week to kill in Jo'berg. The bike is STILL in the shop and will be so for the next 2 weeks awaiting parts =( The bent front end was easy enough to fix, but I had also disfigured my foot gear-shifter (hrrrmmmm, maybe from a few falls in Sudan?). After cracking open the engine to change the shifter column, it seems my crankshaft is loose from its bearings and needs replacing. Now I really don't know what that actually means, but I translated that as bad and essentially as if my bike could have a heart attack at any moment.
Finding out it won't be ready for two weeks, I've decided just to sling a backpack and get the hell out of Dodge. Tonight I'm headed for Mozambique by bus to do some exploring. Great beaches and prawns the size of your fist - oh, and mosquitoes and rampant malaria, but who's counting..?
Ps. Just one more Zanzibar shot to taunt those now encloaked by the winters of the northern hemisphere - lobster and champagne on the beach! LOBSTER AND CHAMPAGNE ON THE BEACH! I'm gotta get me some more in Mozambique!!