There comes a time in everyone's three-week vacation when things get a little stressful.
In the scheme of things, today was not nearly as stressful as it could have been. And it started out nice and chill.
For one thing, we cleared up our northern safari mixup and are now back on track to leave from the Dar airport tomorrow morning.
This morning began with our continental breakfast at the restaurant overlooking the water next to our bungalow. Instant coffee is not the greatest, but it's got caffeine and the breakfast did involve fruit, which is at the top of my list so far of Tanzanian cuisine (the Zanzibar dishes were pretty good too, full of lemongrass and other local spices).
Karin went diving this morning, and I - not being a certified diver or experienced in any way and not really wanting to pop my ears furiously while plummeting into frightening blackness surrounded by lurking sea creatures - opted out.
I went for a nice stroll on the beach, made possible by the receding tide (which, when high, makes virtually all the beaches in the area disappear). Took some stealth photos of the village women fishing, then made my way through the village itself, hidden behind the wall that separates the worlds - resort on one side, poverty-stricken hovel of a village on the other.
Though clearly out of place walking through (hello, big white blond girl), I smiled at everyone and said 'jambo,' which elicited from almost everyone a smile in turn and a 'karibu.' These people didn't want anything from me other than to say welcome. One older woman was sitting on the ground against a house. When i passed her, she was intensely staring me down and the term from Karin's guidebook for a respectful greeting - "shikamoo" - popped into my head. I said this to her and she nodded her head slowly.
After this, i jogged a couple miles down the magically materialized beach on the other side to an isolated end of the resort area called Kendwa. Have never in my life become so drenched in sweat as i get running a few miles in this country.
Got back to our bungalow to find Karin returned from her dive trip (fun, she said, but not much sea life), we cleaned up and packed up, had lunch and found our trusty cab driver - Haaman - arrived early to take us back to the ferry in Stone Town. We swerved around cow carts, barefoot walkers (the one street is really the only place to walk or bike or travel at all), black smoke-breathing buses, and got to the ferry early enough to have our bags swept up by a fake porter who later demanded 10,000 shillings for taking our stuff - without our consent - from the port entry to the ferry. We gave him 500 and he kept yelling at us in Swahili, but we didn't cave and finally he left.
The Ferry Ride.
Yeah ... it sucked. Much like the Dhow boat adventure, our journey was over extremely choppy waves and swells and the ferry - a very small rig that could accomodate about 75 passengers in an outdoor and indoor seating area - was literally catching air and lurching all over the place.
We started out in the outdoor seating area, but were getting pummelled by spray, so went inside, where, in an instant i began to feel woozy and went back out. It was a serious workout just hanging onto the railing and trying to stay upright as the boat lurched. The passengers were of all walks of life. Some European backpackers, some Zanzibari and Dar locals, some Muslim/Arabic looking women of the upper class, wearing gold rings on every finger and dressed from head to toe in their black headresses. In about 15 mins, one of the backpackers came outside to sit down. He began puking into a bag and, being closer than was desired to him, i swung on a boat lurch to the other side of the seating area near the Muslim women, only to have them start yaking, too.
Then, one of the local guys started yaking and the place became a regular puke fest.
Thankfully, hanging on for dear life and getting blasted by ocean spray was distraction enough to prevent me from losing my lunch.
Once back in Dar, there was a big skirmish that broke out as bags were being carried off the ferry. there was a shitload of yelling in swahili, followed by karin and i being trailed by 6 guys wanting to get us a cab/give us a city tour/demand imaginary documents, etc. We found Beka the cab driver, who i had called from the boat, waiting at the end of the line, and he thankfully drove us back to Steph's, where i sit right at this moment as Karin sleeps and Steph packs for a business trip.
Got a little headache. But hey ... it's not malaria.
More adventure is sure to come with our safari up north.
Whatwith all the changes of plans, i hope we make it to the wildlife park from the Arusha airport, which i hear is twice as chaotic as the ferry scene.
Just glad nobody's screaming into my ear right now.