October 5, 2006

Tanzania - Kendwa Day 2

The next morning we slept in until we woke up on our own, which was wonderful; ¦it was nice just to have no place to be. There was something else significant about this morning - it was July 24, our two year anniversary, and we were on Zanzibar. What could be better than that?

After we got up we decided we would walk back over to Nungwi to buy some bread and peanut butter for lunches for the next couple of days so we didn't have to buy them, as meals on Zanzibar, while still cheap by American or European standards, are a little more expensive than the mainland. This time the tide was still out, so we kicked off our shoes and walked along the beach to get there.

Realizing that for the first time since I'd come to Tanzania we were in a truly and completely touristy place, I walked along the beach in just my pants and a bathing suit top. After five weeks of being careful never to show my shoulders or anything revealing, I even felt a little daring doing it, like I was finally breaking some unwritten law. It felt almost liberating, to say, I don't have to worry about that here, and not to worry about who I might be offending. For the first time in five weeks I reverted back to the rules of my own culture instead of someone else's, that say it's okay to walk in public with your shoulders showing, and definitely okay to walk along a beach in a bathing suit top.

Along the way we saw some pretty cool and random things. First we noted the random crabs on the beach; they were little, and white, and kind of fun to watch. As we walked we picked up a few random shells and pieces of coral to save as souvenirs. At one point we saw a Tanzanian hanging squid up to dry; they had been brought in with the tide and left, and he was taking them, probably to cook or sell.

Probably the most notable thing we saw on the way though was a very large blue jellyfish! It was absolutely huge and floating near the shore. It was extremely cool looking, although it made me very aware of where I placed my feet when we went swimming later.

Halfway there I could no longer stand looking at this beautiful water on this perfect, hot, sunny day, so I took off all but my bathing suit, handed my things to Wes, and ran towards the water and plunged in. One thing I was struck by was how warm it was, without being so warm it was uncomfortable. Amazing. I closed my eyes and dunked my head underwater, then went back to Wes on the beach, refreshed and content now to continue walking.

We got to Nungwi and walked past the souvenir stands and the hotels into the actual town; as we did I reverted back to Tanzanian rules and put my shirt back on. It was like there was some unspoken boundary between the beach and the village, like they were two different worlds despite the fact that they occupied the same corner of the same island. The further into the town we walked the more confused looks we got...I'm pretty sure not many tourists usually venture away from the touristy areas of Zanzibar. We got quite a few stares as we walked, greeted everyone we could, and eventually found someone who was willing to lead us to a place where we were able to find bread. We bought the bread and stopped at another store on the way back to buy some jam and some biscuits.

Afterwards we went back to the beach; again I shed my layers, and we began our walk back. The tide was starting to come in at this point so it was slightly more of a challenge; at some points the beach was entirely covered by water, so at times we lifted what we were carrying above our heads, but it was an enjoyable walk and kind of fun dodging the water.

When we got back to the hotel I looked at my arm and was shocked at what I saw: somehow, in the last three or four hours, I had turned about four shades darker. I knew that we were pretty much on the equator but I guess I just hadn't realized it would have that much of an effect that quickly. I had put on sunscreen, too! I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the sun could act when you were that much directly underneath it.

We ate lunch, and then Wes located a bucket so that we could do laundry, as we hadn't done any since Andrew's house and our clothes were pretty dirty. Laundry in Tanzania is done by putting soap and water in a bucket, then swirling your clothes around in the bucket, just basically agitating the clothes and water as much as you can, like a human washing machine. Then you put the clothes in another bucket (or the same bucket, except refilled) with just plain water and do the same thing, then wring them out with your hands and hang them up to dry. We sat on the porch for a while and read as our clothes dried outside.

Finally went out to the beach to go swimming for real, not just my random dip into the water. The water was perfect. We swam around for awhile, and then just kind of floated near each other. Eventually we got tired and went back to the beach, where we put out some towels and lay and read and enjoyed the sun for awhile. It was one of the first times on the trip that we just sat and relaxed.

We eventually went back to the hotel room and showered and got ready for dinner. We decided to go someplace different for dinner, as there were a lot of nice looking restaurants along the beach. So we walked down the beach (I took off my shoes again - I took them off as much as possible on the beach; the sand felt awesome) to a restaurant we had seen that looked pretty cool earlier. As we walked in, we were handed menus...¦in Euros. We took one look at the prices, blanched, and left to find a different restaurant.

We looked at a few before settling on another one on the beach, had an amazing meal and some wine, then walked back on the beach under the stars. The entire day it took some self restraint to refrain from pinching myself to ensure that this was real - a beautiful beach on a tropical island, with my boyfriend of two years, warmth, soft sand, water...it sounds like I made it up!

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