Just when I thought it was over

Trip Start Aug 30, 2006
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Trip End Nov 10, 2006


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, October 20, 2006

Just when I thought it was over.
So having exhausted Dar Es Salaam, and with YIA, still MIA. I decide to head across the way to the island of Zanzibar. I still have only heard the most incredible things about this place.
But let me take you back a day.
Yesterday I mentioned to a taxi driver that I wanted to travel to Zanzibar on Saturday, and asked how early before the departure time I needed to show up in order to purchase a ticket. Where upon I discover that the 'fast' boats are all already sold out. There is a slight change I'll find a ticket to the slow boat called the "Flying Horse."
Speed boat is 1 hours, slow boat is 3 hours. I wasn't thrilled at the thought of arriving at 3pm, but I wanted to get out of the city of Dar, so I decided to pursue the slow boat.
The man who owns the slow boat, a restaurant in Dar, and a hotel on Zanzibar - also had a travel agency near my hotel. So I stop by, buy my ticket and truly believe all to well. The next morning I go to the agency and they're asking for a bit more money. The slow boat was also full - so now there is another boat - it costs a couple more dollars, but we should arrive a little earlier then the slow boat. Fine. I meet the owner of the businesses, nice guy, muslim - but not wary of reading a Michael Crichton book.

Being the talented business man he is he of course suggests that I stay at his hotel on the island. My reservations on the island start on Monday ( the day I was originally supposed to arrive) so I agree to check out his hotel.
They drive me to the docks.

There was no picture of a horse painted on the boat, no pretty "flying horse" insignia or anything of the sort. SO I knew I was definitely not boarding the official slow boat. I looked around and there were plenty of other "muzungus" like me. Foreigners, travelers. Surely one of them knew what were heading into.
Evidently, the didn't. We were all boarded by 11:30 am. Our first class accommodations consisted of greyhound-bus-like seats squished together facing windows that were a little too high to see out of, and a TV playing Swahili music videos. No ventilation ( except to occasionally opening doors) or air conditioning or fans. And how long was this trip? Better yet, lets ask - when did we disembark?
8pm.
Eight pm!
And I thought my crazy transportation stories were over for this trip.
Our boat was incredibly slow. So, I tried to take a lot of big deep breathes.
But I swear if it were not for my luggage I think that I could have swam to the island faster. I think there are sharks, but whatever, there are dolphins too. I could have found Flipper - I would have been fine.
Anyway. There were probably 40 other foreigners like myself. None of us were impressed. Before even boarding the ferry, while standing squished together with locals, one belgium lady heaves her heavy backpack on, looks me in the eye and says " I don't think I can take much more of this."
By taking to her I'm pretty sure she meant her whole vacation, but the line definitely summed up the ferry ride. At 3pm we were still in the middle of the sea, no land visible in any direction. By four pm it was more amusing watching the foreigners then the music videos. From my vantage point at the back of the room I could see everyone half standing to peek out the window, and between the forty tourists there was a continuous succession. It was like watching a white people version of those "wack-a-mole" games you find at amusement parks.
I guess we all learned a thing or two.

My troubles started to melt away the moment we walked into town. Beautiful ancient narrow winding paths through buildings are "streets". The occasional guy on a bike, kids playing in the alley, the air smells clean, the stars are shining. My soul felt like it was relaxing with a yawn. It felt like I stepped back into a time that I know well, to a place that feels like home. But I may be getting ahead of myself, so I'll have to reserve judgment for tomorrow.
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