November 4, 2006

Tanzania, pt. 9

The next day we got up relatively early and had some breakfast at the hotel restaurant (it was included with our room). By this point in time Wes had made friends with almost all of the hotel workers and we discovered that one of the waiters was going to go to Stone Town tomorrow, the same as us, and we arranged to go together the next day.

Then we met Said on the beach to go snorkeling! (Wes had arranged this beforehand). Said brought us to a stand with masks and flippers, and we picked out ones that fit, and then Said guided us to a waiting boat. We climbed onto it and went to pick up the other people who were going to come on Nungwi beach, and then left! It was a gorgeous sunny day, and there was an upper level of the boat that you could climb a ladder to get to, so Wes and I climbed up there with a few others and lay in the sun as we went. I fell asleep for awhile, and woke up to a few people pointing at somewhere in the ocean. I could just make out some small protrusions in the water that, as soon as I saw them, they were gone – dolphins! I didn’t see them very well but it was still pretty cool that we saw them at all.

Soon we arrived near a different beach, and anchored a little bit away from shore. We put on our flippers and got off the boat. I had never been snorkeling before so it took me a little bit of practice to figure out how to breathe correctly with the snorkeling mask, and to adjust it, but then we started. It was…by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. There was so much coral and so many amazing fish. It really was another world from the one I saw when I lifted my face two inches upwards.

Eventually it was time to leave, so we swam back to the boat. I was starting to feel the effects of the ocean anyway – my lips were almost numb they were so salty. As I swam I felt a quick, tiny sharp feeling and then it was gone. A few seconds later another one. I was just saying “Hey I think something stung me or something” when I felt a few more. They were just tiny, tiny little pinpricks, and I couldn’t see ANYTHING in the water, but had a few small red dots on my hands after I got out of the water. Weird. The best I could determine was that they were really, really, REALLY tiny jellyfish.

We didn’t have far to go on the boat until we got to another beach, where we got off the boat and swam ashore to have lunch. The people running the snorkeling expedition had brought fish, which they cooked for us, and also offered some pineapple. I don’t normally like pineapple all that much but this pineapple was GOOD. We ate, and then when we were finished, Wes and I explored the beach a little bit, collecting seashells and being highly entertained by the tiny white crabs. Some were no bigger than my fingernail, while others were about the size of a walnut. All were extremely amusing to watch. They sort of…scuttle…sideways, and have flat little eyes on top of their heads. After awhile Wes started cracking up and pointing at a hole in the sand. He told me to watch another hole, so I did. It took watching a few different likely-looking holes where we found one where a crab scurried out, and then threw sand in the air, then scurried back in. (This was what Wes had seen earlier). I know that might not sound that amusing to you, but to us it was hilarious. We spent the rest of the time on the beach trying to find more crabs to watch dig their holes.

Eventually it was time to go. We had some extra time, and it was a windy day, so instead of using the motor, they unfurled the sail on the boat and we sailed back. Amazing.

When we got back we caught a gorgeous sunset, and walked along the beach a little bit and just enjoyed it, taking a few awesome pictures. We went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, and I discovered that my hours of laying on the boat napping in the sun had resulted in a fairly decent sunburn; whooops...At night we went to dinner at a different place on the beach. We noticed some people had a table further away from the restaurant actually ON the beach, and requested one too. It was pretty amazing; we ate our dinner under the stars with our feet in the sand.

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