So after the first visit to Zanzibar I knew I had to go back. There was still Jambiani which was a part of the island I wanted to see and there was a distant thought of maybe going diving. It was a very very distant thought though. And like always God hooked me up with a partner in crime. (I swear I felt like I had a guardian angel on this trip..God never left me alone even though I had come alone :)) Tara from Toronto had come and also obviously wanted to see Zanzibar for the first time.
Because I had done it the first time with friends I knew exactly where to get the ferry tickets from and what exactly I wanted to do in Zanzibar. I always told a friend I could do the same city again and again and not get tired because I would do it in different ways. The first time I went – we stayed in hotels and did the normal touristy kind of stuff , this time we were going to do it differently.We were going to go low budget and get a local experience. I had done my research and Tara was there to push me along in case I started backing out.
The founder of Wipahs also told us that he knew someone in Zanzibar and if we needed a place to stay to call her. Tara and I didn’t exactly have a plan. I had made friends with two people volunteering in Zanzibar the last time I was there and had kept in touch and knew that we wanted to spend a night with them. That was one night that I knew had to fit into our 3/4 day plan. The rest was pretty up for grabs. Oh ! And Sabrina was in Zanzibar cause they had just gone on holiday and that’s where she was based :D. So that would be a day at least! Oh and I had been researching diving companies – eek so it seems like we kinda had a plan but enough for us to move around and switch around – nothing was set in stone.
So we got our tickets and took the ferry and sailed over to Zanzibar …:). We got there and even thought (according to TAra – diving was my idea ) – I was starting to feel a little scared. Like why couldn’t we just chill at the beach and not have to always conquer our fears ..lol..but Tara wanted to and pushed me to as well. First before we went scouting out this diving company we needed to put all of our stuff down and decided until we knew where we would be staying the night we would call the person whose number we had – We called her and she came to get us at the ferry docks – which was like 5 minutes from her house. Soon enough we realized she didn’t speak any English but knew Urdu weirdly enough and so with my AMAZING (sarcastic) Urdu we communicated – she was an extremely sweet lady and totally treated us like her own – like everyone had. She took us through the alleys of Zanzibar left here and right there and there was no way we would track our way back to town or maybe we would but getting back would be impossible on our own. As we went and approached the house I looked at Tara and was like – well this is going to be an experience. – We were going to stay in stone town with someone from stone town 🙂 But the outside was deceiving. As we entered it was just like any other home 🙂 which was a little bit of a relief ( even though we were both up for adventure).
We left our valuable stuff there and went to scout out the company which was in stone town which was where we were . We got there and decided to take the course that day and dive the next but the diving boat was full for the next day so we would do our course today and the dive the next next day. We did our course but I was scared which is weird because I’m a huge water baby. I am not scared of water generally but the whole concept of breathing underwater scared me. And then if you have water stuck in your goggles you’re suppose to open up your goggles from the bottom. Like look up and and open your goggles underwater – generally when u do that you let more water in . All these concepts were like opposite of what you’ve been taught your whole life. Anyways I pushed through the fear and we did our course which encompassed what to do if your respirator falls out of your mouth…what to do if your goggles fog up and what to do if there is water in your goggles and how to regulate your system as you went deeper.
Now that we had the next day free we decided this was a perfect time to go to Jambiani. It would take 2 hours by dala dala which is what we would take. The dala dala is the local transportation there but is safe and like 2 dollars whereas a taxi would be 50 because Jambiani was on the other side of the island. Lol Tara and I were living on the move already. We went back and told the lady we would be back the next day and that we would be spending the night in Jambiani. Her helper Khadija was the sweetest looking woman – she dropped us to the dala dala stop and made sure we got on the right dala dala. This was a new experience for both me and Tara and I’m glad she had the same thirst for adventure that I did. She actually really pushed me for the diving – the more I wanted to back out the more she pushed me lol..it reminded me of me and my friends but they are usually backing out of stuff and I’m there convincing them it’s a brilliant idea and a once in a lifetime experience. It was weird being on the other side of the convincing. Anyways we got on the dala dala. It was going to be a 2 hour ride – we both knew that – we were the first ones on the dala dala and got seats right by the edge – it was an open one which I loved. For about 2 hours we watched people get on – I wish I remembered more or that I had written this earlier – I remember feeling so happy. There were old people on it , young people, women , girls. I watched as a lady with a baby got on and she passed her baby to someone on the dala dala and as she got to her seat which was at the end of the dala dala the baby was passed from hand to hand till it reached her as she sat – this is the spirit of Africa. :). I remember also at one point Tara thought it was raining and then one of the men laughed and said it was the fennesse ( a fruit ) on top of the dala dala that was leaking down ..haha:)..Both of us were pretty silent on the dala dala – that may have to do with the fact that we were on opposite ends facing each other and inbetween us was the guy who collected money hanging off the side of the dala dala 🙂 But we were both totally in awe of the nature around us . I know this surrounding – this is what I’ve grown up with but every time this is my favourite part of coming to Africa – sitting in a car and watching everything go by. I can spend forever doing it .
We got to Jambiani and my friends were waiting for us . We had dinner which was way overpriced compared to what we are used to -but we sat and ate right by the Ocean.It was to dark to see the colour of the Ocean by the time we arrived. After dinner and just chatting our friends went to sleep. Tara and I sat by the beach – we sat on a hammock and weirdly enough we were home sick for Kibaha. We had left the kids and were missing them so much and just missing our own apartments and the comfort of Kibaha. we just lay on the hammocks looking up at the African skies until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore.
Jambiani is on the Eastern side of the island and so we could catch the sunrise here. We had both decided to wake up for it and I am so glad we did. It was mesmerizing and gorgeous. We sat by the waters and watched as kids came up to the beach and then as ladies came into the waters. We then realized that these ladies were farming in the OCEAN…like they had plots of land – literally – it was amazing.
Tara didn’t want to swim so I went into the water and hoped to get deep enough where I could swim but everything was so shallow and for so far. One of the ladies started to talk to me in Swahili and I told her – nataka ko and i Gestured swim because I didn’t know the word and she said “Woga. “And I smiled and said ndiyo nataka ko woga – yea I want to swim so she told me to follow her. I did – her “farm” was the furthest one and even there the water reached about your shoulder length so it wasn’t deep and as I ventured a little further she kind of told me to stick around. Lol – she was looking out for me and didnt want me to go deeper and really there was no need for me to so I did stick around and swim around there. After a while – she told me to come back with them to shore. I told her I wanted to still swim but she insisted so again I agreed. They had collected this kind of seaweed and I was assuming it would be sold – and so they were all pulling about 3 bunches of seaweed and so I offered to take one. I pulled it through the waters with them and it was fun :). All of the other ladies who were working on their “plots of land” smiled and laughed. Not always do they probably see this :)…I thought to myself man where will I find myself doing this ..it’s moments like this when I felt sooo alive. Like I was doing something different – something that I’m so glad I experienced..it might seem so small but when they laugh and see u being with them like this – it warms your heart too in a completely different way .The lady explained to me that she lived right there and welcomed me to her house for some food. I smiled and told her we would be leaving soon but thank you. As we approached shore the load got heavier. Before we were pulling it through the water by a rope or something and now gravity was there. So we brought it out and the woman put it on their heads. I tried – yeah I failed – I told her Siwezi – I cant. It was heavy and my neck probably couldnt take it ..we laughed and I handed it over.
I sat there then on the sand for a bit and kids came up to me from I’m not sure where. I think they were the kids of these women working on these plots of land. They came up to me and asked me for books – I had none – they asked me for pencils – I had none and so I didn’t really have much to offer them but they wanted something. So I sat in the sand and wrote Hello and then Jambo. How are You and then Habari ? And the kids repeated after me. Lol! Even here in a tourist location on the sand this was happening – you always have something to offer people I guess – even knowledge – it’s priceless I guess. And these kids were hungry to learn. After a while I invited them to come to the water with me ( oh btw the lady had insisted that i came back to shore with her because the tide had now come in ). We all swam together and I was glad to know that even they had access to this beach. I’ve been to many resorts where I never see locals but here these kids were swimming in the same beach that people living in a 5 star hotel were swimming in.
Tara and I wanted to leave early. We wanted to get to stone town before sunset and so by 2 30 ish we were on our dala dala back home. Well stone town. We got back and traced ourselves almost to the lady’s house ( Kaneez Aunty) and then didn’t know whether to turn left or right at a certain corner and had to call her. She had a daughter and son and so we decided to just take them to the docks. It was almost sunset and the sun was going to set on this side of the island :). It was pretty amazing that just that morning we were catching sunrise on the Eastern side and now we were catching sunset on the western side. I’m big on sunrises and sunsets or just nature in general. It was one of the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. There is also just something about an African sunset that is different.
Some people see Africa in a negative light – they think there is nothing there or that the place has no future. I smile to myself and feel sorry for them. Those people have never seen a baby being passed from hand to hand on a dala dala until the mother sits down comfortably. They have never waved and smiled at a kid in the street to have him wave , smile back and run after you. They have never talked and laughed with the locals nor have they played with the kids on the sands of Africa. They have never seen the baobab tree standing strong nor the palm trees standing tall. They have never seen the red brilliant sun set over the waters of the Indian Ocean. At the end of the day they have never really seen Africa.