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Day 3: Zanzibar

July 3, 2009

 

 

I slept last night, tired beyond belief, waking just long enough to be conscious of the prayers being chanted at dawn by this predominantly Muslim country. Two more of our group showed up this morning, the last two to arrive tomorrow. After our 24 hours here, we qualified as guides so went back to the markets, this time making our way to the local food markets. Spices everywhere, as Zanzibar is known as Spice Island. So inexpensive, but you are just so overcome with the hordes of people following you around pleading for you to buy from them that you can't think straight sometimes. You would think a spice market would smell wonderful, but the fish market is next to it, as is the meat market and of course nothing is refrigerated and so the flies and pungent smells of rotting meat overcome all of your senses. Still, I want to go back. The market is next to the schools and the young people poured out of the doors at the end of the day, the girls with their heads covered, a handful in black with their faces covered as well. The head covering here is simply a sign of respect as all men and boys wear hats as well and you can still see the smiles and joy on everyone's faces. But the face covering makes me feel a little sad, to spend one’s entire life in anonymity, unseen and probably unheard. 

Tonight we went on a sunset sail on a large wooden dhow, unlike any sailboat I have been on. I had to hold my long skirt up as we walked through the water to get to the boat and climb the ladder. Just the four of us aboard and the men managing the boat. The boss's wife had prepared a table covered with pink bougainvillea flowers and nuts, homemade cheese, marinated shrimp, cassava chips, jams, vegetables, wines and local beers. We heard stories about the island and their lives. The breeze was cool, the sunset beautiful and romantic. 

Dinner was at a local restaurant and excellent. Mostly seafood, it’s fresh and we experiment with fish we have never heard of. And somehow I have yet to see a cow or chicken here, so I'm thinking this is the best option given my memories of the market today. The four of us who didn't know each other before yesterday are bonding quickly as women always do.

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