Way back in May, after I finished my semester abroad in northern Tanzania, I flew to Zanzibar with several of my classmates. Though it was monsoon season there, and it rained for a good part of every day, the water was as clear, blue, and warm as ever. We spent most of each day walking up and down the beach, wading in the water, and exploring the nearby towns of Jambiani and Paje (here’s a map of the island for reference).
Our adventures were spur-of-the-moment. One morning, we went on a “dolphin snorkeling tour” at the southern end of the island, in a town called Kizimkazi. We got in a boat with two guides, both named Ali, and headed out to the favorite spot of a local pod of dolphins. One of the Alis would shout, “Jump now! Jump now!” and we would all be leaping into the water, trying to get our masks on, and frantically looking around for the dolphins. Then we would get back into the boat and try to catch them again.
I certainly questioned whether what we were doing was fair to the dolphins, but they really didn’t seem to mind us either way. One came up for air just feet in front of me; it was absolutely incredible.
There are no pictures from the dolphin snorkeling tour because my lens was continually fogged up while we were out on the water. Overall, as well, I took few photos in Zanzibar. This was in part having to do with the feeling of being a white woman in a poor country with an expensive camera, and in part having to do with the act of photographing events feeling somehow like “work.” So, most days, I took the vacation as an opportunity to leave the camera at home and just enjoy the experience.
One day, I rented a bike from the hotel, which was brought over from the next town by a teenage boy. The bike was far too tall from me, and the seat was slanted back at a steep angle. It was obscenely difficult to ride. But it didn’t stop me from making the trip to Jozani Forest Reserve at the heart of the island, with my camera all wrapped up to prevent water damage (of course, it was raining almost the whole time).
I paid a guide 10,000 TSH (about 5 USD at the time) to guide me around the reserve and educate me about the indigenous Red Colobus Monkeys (see my previous post for a photo) while we traipsed beneath the trees with eyes and ears open. We also visited a mangrove forest, which at high tide is several feet deep with water even though it is several miles from the ocean.
When the days spent on the beach grew long, the five of us shared a taxi to Stone Town, where I spent the last few days of my vacation, exploring history, architecture, and the famously white-washed and wending passages through beautiful Stone Town. But that’s a story for another time.