A vacation from the vacation

Trip Start Jun 20, 2003
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Trip End Mar 01, 2004


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, August 15, 2003

Ah, we've made it to paradise! Zanzibar is everyone's idea of the perfect tropical island. Pure white sand beaches that stretch for miles, excellent and cheap seafood that is usually grilled right in front of you, and crystal clear water that not only sparkles in the sunlight but is a million variations of blue and green. It was so relaxing that Susan had her hair braided, and I grew a goatee and started saying things like "Life is like a river, it just takes you where it takes you . . . " This was a much needed break from our hectic travel schedule (seriously). We did almost nothing for a week and a half but lie on the beach and bake in the sun.

Zanzibar is an island two hours by ferry (or vomit comet, as Susan remembers it) off the coast of Tanzania, and has been important in the Spice Trade for centuries. As a result, Zanzibar is a very interesting blend of Swahili, Arabic, and Indian cultures. Stone Town, the capital city, is a beautifully old city with winding alleys that you can and should get easily lost in. The island is predominantly Muslim, and so many women walk down the alleys in burkas or at least some sort of significant covering -- occasionally all black but often in brilliant colors. There are always schoolchildren in their uniforms running up and down the alleys and playing. The alleys are lined with shops, and the merchants constantly ask you to look at their paintings and other goods for sale. Its wonderfully charming, and the people are so friendly.

The beaches and the diving, however, are what draws most people to Zanzibar, and they do not disappoint. We managed to spend a good amount of time at two beaches, one on the eastern side of the island (Kwenda) and one on the western (Matemwe). Kwenda was a beautiful swimming beach and the water was quite warm. The best part was that people would walk down the beaches selling mangos, coconuts, and other fruits, and then cut it up for you right there on the beach. Matemwe beach, however, was simply astounding. We would just walk for hours on the white sand staring at the ocean and the palm trees. There were not many people on Kwenda, but even fewer on Matemwe.

We were hoping on finishing our scuba certification, but they didn't recommend novice divers go out since the currents were currently quite strong. So we went snorkeling instead, and it was the best snorkeling we've ever done. The water was like crystal, and the reefs were brimming with hundreds of colorful fish.

As you can see, we had a simply lovely time in Zanzibar. The only negative thing was that Susan lost the sapphire ring I gave her on our first Valentines Day together back in high school. It slipped off her finger at Kwenda while we were swimming in the ocean. We knew something like this might happen (which is why we didn't take the wedding ring on the trip), but it was still disappointing -- especially since it has served as the "something borrowed, something blue" in half a dozen of our friends' weddings.

In any event, we are now done with our East African detour and off to resume the rest of the trip as we had planned it. We only have about eight or nine days left before our flight from South Africa to Europe, and so we have decided to spend it all in Cape Town in South Africa rather than running around the country in a rush. Hope its a good decision!

-Sharad
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