|But I have indeed managed to purchase more than 20 Zanzibar scarves in the past 4 hours I've been in Stonetown. In the meantime, I also checked myself into a hotel (dorm-style room for $10, meaning I'm sleeping with some randos tonight so hopefully they will be either nice or irrelevant), made sure the ferry ticket I didn't use on Tuesday would be good for going back tomorrow (it wil!), had a leisurely lunch, got my friend a t-shirt at the restaurant named after Freddie Mercury (he was born here and lived here until his family moved to India; name at birth: Farookh Bulsara) and stood around sneezing in the junk room of a curio shop while Tonje and Kine, whom I met up with yesterday, picked up and put back down everything in the store. Taking a break at the internet cafe now because I'm sunburned (for only the second time since I've gone to the beach near the equator, a record to be proud of I feel) and all the colors were starting to swim before my eyes. Man when I was here in September scarf prices were much more negotiable but the ladies have collectivized or something because you can't get it below 3000/= ($2.70) to save your life. I walked away, came back, made a scene, flirted with the old Muslim ladies, used ridiculously outdated bargaining lingo, all the tricks I have up my little sleeves and to no avail. I mean, they're still the most beautiful things in the world for less than $3 and it's actually pretty awesome that they've gotten it together to keep themselves from getting screwed, but after 5 months of bargaining I really like getting shit for dirt-cheap.|
I got to Zanzibar yesterday by plane, which was neat. On Monday I bought a resident-price ferry ticket (12,000/= as opposed to 40,000/=!) for Tuesday morning, but then I ended up having to stay in Dar until Wednesday. Got up 5 am on Wednesday, taxi driver is there at 5:45 like he said he would be, all is fine and dandy...then we get down to the pier where I discover that my ferry line isn't running because it's by Pakistani Muslims and it's Idd al-Fattr. There was one boat going but it was sold out and the scalper wanted 45,000/=. The plane ticket, tax included, was 36,000/=, so even with the taxi up to the airport it was 1,000/= cheaper than the stupid ferry. (I chose to ignore the money I dropped on the taxi downtown because I pretty certain I would puke on the boat but didn't want to admit that so financial justification was necessary). Either way, I really enjoyed the plane ride. It was one of those tiny planes, I think there were thirteen passengers plus the pilot, who sounded South African. I wanted to sit up front with him but this asshole beat me to it.
I say asshole for several reasons. First of all, he was a middle-aged man smoking menthol cigarettes. Not ok, and I think most people would agree with me. Then he said "No, definitely not" all snotty-like when I asked him if he had a travel guide I could use to find the beach where I met my friends. He and his friend were wazungu wearing khaki shorts and baseball caps with snazzy little fannypack situations happening, what was I supposed to think? Ha and then when I was haggling for a taxi at the airport in Zanzibar I noticed them getting picked up by a tour company. Bastards! Third of all, the wazungu need to start refusing to be ashamed of using guidebooks. Sometimes they suck but they're also the cheapest and easiest way to get fairly reliable maps of remote places and sometimes they have really good tips about scams and whatnot. Finally, he all hopped over to the pilot and kissed some ass for shotgun before I had a chance to.
In any case, there are all these tiny little dots of islands off Tanzania's coast that from the air look like someone dumped a shit-ton of mango trees on a rusting key--the shelf of land submerged in shallow water around the edge of the island looks is the color of oxidized metal because the Indian Ocean is so blue-green. We were low enough that you could actually see how the islands are round underneath like little bowls. It was also cool to see Dar itself from the air. Even the slums were quite beautiful from the air, which is kind of sick. The 6 high-rises in Dar all clumped together in the Indian district were hilarious. And it was really nice to have gotten there in 20 minutes at 8 am instead of 10 or 11, because then it didn't matter when the minivan broke down on the way Jambiani, the beach down on the southeast coast where I met Tonje and Kine. Although I have to say that it was one ofthe more pleasant breakdowns I've had in Tanzania. Even outside of the plentiful shade it wasn't 900 degrees, and lots of ripe mangoes were just laying around. One of the Tanzanian guys in the van sliced one up and offered it around; it was delicious, just the right hint of pine or whatever that sharpness is about really great mangoes. There was an Italian couple and a white South African couple in the minivan too, and they must have read in the guidebook not to ever eat unwashed fruit or whatever because they were foolish enough to pass up the mango.
Got to Jambiani where I found Tonje and Kine at the Rising Sun, the cheapest hotel in the village at 10,000/= per person per night. It was right on the beach and everything was clean with ceiling fans in the room so you can't beat it. I was pretty beat so I'd planned on just passing out in some shade for the rest of the day but then Kine was going snorkeling so I figured I'd go, since when I'd gone my last time in Zanzibar I'd sworn that I'd go again. Another Norweigan (Tonje and Kine are both from Norway, as are lots of the wazungu in Tanzania since they have a fairly intense donor relationship and then there's the socialist connection) whose name I'm not going to even attempt to spell also went. He was very nice, and good company on the long-ass boat trip out to the coral reef. I'd never seen anything like the boat we took. The body itself was like a really deep, narrow canoe, and then there were four huge booms mounted in a square on top of the hull that the "captain" used to lounge on. One more mast at the fore with one huge sail made out of nylon sacks sewn together that was attached to one corner or the other of the square depending on the direction of the wind. The design was pretty much ingenious. I need to make a diagram or something. The only bad thing was there wasn't much shade and like an ass I was wearing a tank top and no sunblock--hence the sunburn. Plus the snorkeling itself wasn't that great, although there were all kinds of starfish, different shapes and colors and whatnot, and a few different kinds of fish that I hadn't seen when I went off the coast of Changuu. By the time we were done I was starving because I'd only had that slice of mango in the 7 or 8 hours I'd been up, but on the trip back the wind was in our favor so we got back for a lunch of nasty nasty tomato sandwich (the bread was sweet or something, and there was no cheese which would have been gross too but I was in the mood for it) and French fries. Took a shower, passed out for a couple of blissful hours, played a few games of bao with one of the guys who took us snorkeling. There was this hilariously smart-assy 12 year old kid hanging out with us who must have been his cousin or something and it was fun until he started telling me how he loved me and this and that, and why can't I do this and that even though I have a boyfriend. The conversation with guys at the beach always comes to that, and of course it's in Swahili so I don't have all the comebacks I need. MEHHH. Then dinner was delicious, went to bed early, woke up in the middle of the night to take a cold shower, and got back to Stonetown this morning, which commenced the scarf-buying.
To change topics completely--the rest of our time in Addis was marvelous. Only two things I would need to bring with me if I wanted to live there: a humidifier, because by the middle of the week my lips were cracking something serious; and David, because I don't think I can do the long-term, long-distance thing again. Like, ever. (Although once we're in the same town again he probably won't send me delightful mix tapes and zines and fun things from Target like glitter pens and whatnot.) At this point we have been together 13 months and 7 of those we have spent living in separate states if not separate countries/continents. But there are pastries and great shopping (gorgeous jewelry and textiles and whatnot, plus lots of good Western-style clothes--I got some really great silver Mary Jane sneakers and you could get Seven jeans for Birr200, which is something like $26, as opposed to $100+ or whatever they are in the US, Lisa help me out here with your area of expertise) and great Italian food and our hotel and all the people who worked there were great and, yeah. Just everything was great.
I really enjoyed traveling with Nikki and Tanisha. Not just because they're just smart and interesting and assertive and sensible, good qualities to have in travel companions, but also because we're all friends with Camille so we all wanted to take things easy after we got the news of her passing. And in some ways it was easier not to travel with any men. Tanisha and Nikki didn't act like I was being weird or paranoid when I was brisk with strangers or didn't want to go certain places, although I felt more comfortable walking around Addis at night than I do in Dar or Baltimore or even Gainesville. Ha and it definitely beat UDSM's campus--not only have there been a few student rapes this semester, but in the past month foreign students have been robbed at machete-point three times while walking back from UDASA. They really need to get some guards or streetlights or something over there. The campus police were of course useless--Kevin didn't even bother to go. One group of people who went to report being robbed were just laughed out of the police station. It was the first place I've gone that I was really sad to leave, and not only because I didn't want to be back in Dar.
In any case, I have a little book that I carry around with me where I've been taking notes. I will write more about Kilwa and Addis and everything else that has happened since I basically stopped keeping this up, but I just haven't been in the mood lately. Besides Camille, a lot of other things have been hectic too and the next week is my last so I figure I'll just wait until all of my friends in Gainesville are sick of hearing about it to spend hours and hours writing everything down. Ahh and the internet will be so fast, I'll get to put up so many pictures. In the words of my friend Ali, "It will be bomba!" (See and that just isn't as funny as when he says it with his wondeful accent, but in any case bomba = awesome).
So yeah, I get on a plane to London in 8 days. Wildness. I just hope that it's a good one so I don't leave with shitty feelings towards Dar Es Salaam, but I don't know. Tomorrow I'll head back to Dar early in the morning so I can straighten out a mishap with my final exam schedule (hopefully people will be in their offices, because that was the main obstacle before I left for Zanzibar). Perhaps at some point the water will come back on; I haven't been able to wash clothes since December 29 and probably haven't put on a truly clean shirt since Saturday; I don't know what I'm going to do about going out for fancy dinner with Alicia and her dad and some other people tonight because I don't think noticeable sweaty-person smells are up to dress code. Then I have exams Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, and in between there will be chemistry homework due to a UF professor via email on Tuesday the 17th, lots of last-minute shopping (I need to ask Njudi, one of the guys in the English class, to carve me a little wildebeest), final visits with friends (pilau with Robie on Sunday, I can't wait!) and my last 5 English classes with the guys. Ah and the packing! Miserable business! I think I'll have to mail some stuff back instead of trying to cram it under the weight limit; for instance Choc-kits, my favorite cookies here, and other light stuff I can do without for a while like my Little Mermaid sheets. If only I wanted to ship literature for the blind, then it would be free!
And then when I get back to the US I'll have to just pack some more, although my mom and sister have been nice enough to start organizing my shit at my parents' house in Baltimore. My clothes are going to be the biggest problem, from a sheerly volume-related point of view. From an email Liz just sent me: "you have about 6 tubs worth of stuff.... no, seriously. how many times have you bought a shirt from goodwill and then cut the sleeves off? about a million." This is true. But after having 7 - 10 shirts at my disposal for the past 5 months, I should be able to handle paring down the t-shirt collection.