Friday, April 30, 2010

Easter in Zanzibar!

So as I have stated MANY times, my life is really not that different from yours. I work, I play, I read, I run annoying errands, I consistently set goals for myself that I ignore three hours later (Eat better! Work out more! Watch less TV! Get more sleep!) I just do these things in deepest darkest Africa. However, the one aspect of my life that clearly stands apart from most is my ability to go on exotic vacations. You may spend the weekend at the Jersey Shore (and hey, that’s exotic in its own right!), but I get to go for a weekend to ZANZIBAR! I’m not trying to brag, I’m just for once admitting that my life does have its perks. And Zanzibar is DEFINITELY one of them…

So to set the stage, in East Africa, Easter is a four day weekend, which seemed like a perfect opportunity to get away. So several of my friends and I decided to jet over to the Swahili Coast of Tanzania and visit the tropical and exotic island of Zanzibar. For those of you history buffs (Dad), Zanzibar is an semi-autonomous archipelago that for centuries has been a stopping-over point for traders from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The traders from all over the world have left their marks, and it has resulted in a hodgepodge of culture, food, religion, and language. The island also happens to have the whitest sand and bluest water I’ve ever seen. Oh, and delicious spicy seafood, which is a treat when you live in Uganda, the land of no flavor and tilapia.

So in planning our tropical getaway, my friend Becca, who is far more adventurous than me, somehow convinced me that scuba diving was a good idea. And it WAS a good idea—until I found myself 12 meters down (40 feet Mer-cans) unable to see because my goggles were as foggy as San Francisco in summer, unable to control my buoyancy, and completely unsure of why I had thought this was a good idea. But it got better. And better. And next thing you know I was actually enjoying myself amongst the sea turtles and nudibranch (look that up, you won’t be sorry!) and dolphins and tropical fish of every shape and color and size. And yes, I did find Nemo. And I became a certified PADI diver in the process, in spite of my best efforts to completely panic and resign myself to snorkeling for the rest of my life.

Outside of the scuba training, I greatly enjoyed lying on the beach, enjoying my friends, eating as much seafood as possible, reading, sleeping, kayaking, and generally chillaxing. And while I was sad to tear myself away from the tropical paradise that was Kendwa, the time came to see some of the rest of the island, and I wasn’t disappointed. We spent a day exploring Stone Town, a labyrinth of winding alleyways, mosques, intricately carved wooden doorways, colorful markets, and extravagant coral buildings built with detailed Swahili touches. We also gave in to our inner tourists and took a spice tour, which while informative and fun, was pretty much a tourist trap. We also filled ourselves to the gills with delicious Swahili food at Foradhani Gardens in Stone Town and shopped for kangas (brightly colored raps favored by Tanzanian women) until we dropped.

Overall it was a fantastic holiday and I can’t wait to go back! But in the meantime, I have fond memories and many great pictures…