Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Island of Spices

The sands of Zanzibar remind me of the West coast of Florida. White and incredibly soft. It is easy to spend time in Zanzibar. A week went by quickly after a day in Stone Town, a day on the spice plantation and several days on the beach. Stone Town was worth a short visit - it is no Fes, but does have an interesting local market.

The people of Tanzania are colorful and friendly. Still, there is a bit of a desperation that can be felt- the result of poverty and illness. It drained me a bit, along with the constant poor air quality that results from burning wood and other fuel. Travel here is also a dangerous venture. The day I was going to travel from Arusha to Dar Es Salam, a bus crashed, killing at least 33 people. There are several buses per day, so I probably would not have been on that one, but you never know. It happens often though. While this was one of the more difficult countries that I have traveled in, it was certainly a great visit with amazing variety of cultures, awe-inspiring parks, and warm-hearted generous people.

My bus ride from Arusha was interesting. One highlight was the toilet stop. The driver just pulled over next to a planted field and everybody got out and found a bush to use. The women went to one field and the men to the other. It was hilarious seeing a bus full of people, some in suits and others in dresses, peeing on the side of the road all at once. At least it did not cost any shillings to use this stop.

I am now out of Africa (sorry Countess Blixen - now one of my favorite authors) and in SE Asia. "Sawasdee Krup" from the Land of Smiles, where it is hot and humid, the sea is warm, and the food is fantastic. I think I have gained at least 5 kilos. I also learned a new past-time here. I call it "Is it a lady, or a ladyboy," but more about that next posting.

I had dinner here every evening - grilled fish and rice with a Kilimanjaro beer at sunset.

I will never complain about my workspace ever again after seeing what this guy has to deal with every day! Shoving his hands into cows heads...