So on a whim I decided to go to Zanzibar. It was almost a spur of the moment decision. I was reading the newspaper one Sunday and saw a really cheap flight, and I figured well what excuse do I really have. Moneys transitory isn’t it? Since I didn’t really want to go alone, I called Karli and persuaded her to take 3 days off work – at first she bitched and moaned, but once she started her usual diatribe protesting about work, I rolled off the couch and walked over to tell her boss to let her go. Mom being her boss, also tried to argue at first, but the Ryan pity party was still in conjunction with the full moon of sympathy, so she gave in pretty quickly. Next thing Monday morning, I booked the flights and decided to make this African paradise work. Being the man I took charge of organizing the whole trip, and I honestly figured this would be easy. Fly in, chill, fly out.
Once we hit Jo’burg airport, I knew we were in trouble. There I was with my small Arizona State duffel bag and enough clothes to last 3 days. There Karli was with 2 body bags and enough clothes to keep Madagascar warm for the oncoming ice age. This first little snag didn’t bother me initially, since well women will do what they want anyway, and fighting inevitability is a waste of time. However it did present some problems to my initial plan to catch public transport from Zanzibar airport. With my chill factor up to about 7, I didn’t worry too much and just climbed onto the plane.
4 hours later we’re in Tanzania and I’m scrambling for transport to a resort. Since I come from the “let’s just see what happens” school of travel I didn’t book any accommodation. This is a great strategy if you’re traveling alone, or with a well traveled good mate. However this is not advisory if you’re traveling with a French born capetoanian chick who wont camp, and hates beach sand. Circumstances like this more often than not end in recriminations, heavy drinking and threats of divorce or castration. It’s the only way to see the world.
The French connection eventually kicked in, and she freaked out when she realized we were refugees. As any English speaking man will tell you, not even a boeing is as loud as a screaming French woman. After taming the shrew, I got enough oxygen time to find a taxi driver who understood what I wanted, and took us to a backpackers. It was cheap, and even walking distance to the beach for a gimp like me. BUT it wasn’t good enough for Madame Curie. But since the taxi had already driven off, we were forced to find afor a more acceptable place to stay, on foot.
Staggering more from the heat than the local rotgut, we eventually found a ravaged bungalow at a “resort” inhabited by dying alcoholics and hippies who probably once found God but then lost him almost immediately. Although our bamboo shack was on the beach it had no water or electricity. What it did have was a gecko the size of a baby crocodile and a hosepipe instead of toilet paper, African domestication. Right away we were set upon by a posse of kamikaze mosquitoes high on crack. “They like you,” Karli said while she was unpacking her herd of suitcases and I beat off the alpha male with a cricket bat.
Since I was on “holiday” (or as my doomsday prophet likes to call it – “active recovery”), I took a dented kayak out into the bay for a quiet paddle away from Frenchzilla. What seemed like a great idea at first, eventually turned into hell as dislocated my wrist trying to outrun a vicious monsoon (what the locals referred to as a brief summer squall) that drove me onto jagged rocks and ripped my feet apart. With blood dripping from my cut up feet, I made my way back to the hippie camp to find ways to increase my relaxation factor.
The next thing I remember was being face down in the ocean and I was wearing a pair of leaking goggles with millions of fish painted in Day-Glo colors harassing me as if to say I had no place in their world. Bastards. How dare they? Before I could retaliate, I was driven from the water by jellyfish twice the size of Clay Solomon’s head. TIA as they say, “This Is Africa”.
The next day we decided to catch a ferry (or rather a water taxi) to explore one of the Portuguese islands down the coast. In these parts the water taxis are fitted with mutant Volkswagen engines and powered by elongated drive-shafts fitted with razor sharp propellers that are used to chop lesbian Australian snorkellers into shark bait and, in the slower months, settle domestic disputes with the sea gypsies who litter these fine shores. I saw this island rising from the sea like a giant unshaven god cast in stone. There is something about a chunk of rock swarming with jungle in the middle of the ocean that awakens the beast in me. A tiger, maybe. I let out a little growl. Karli slapped me on the back. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Not really,” I whined. Okay, maybe not a tiger. But a smallish wildcat of some sort, certainly. A lynx, perhaps.
When we docked at the Pier, I was almost knocked overboard by the hysterical stampede to get off the ferry. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to shout “tsunami” but can no one take a joke anymore? There are no cars on this island, which is great if you like walking. I don’t. I find it heavily overrated. For a start, the only urchins on this island are sea urchins, and unlike the sand based ones, its no fun at all when you stand on one.
My disappointment was tempered by a reggae bar right on the sand. Curse my discontent liver, but 2 months going strong without natures brew.