This blog post is a continuation of my previous post about my experiences in Dar es Salaam. So, it’s best to connect the dots from the other post before reading this one. Once you finish reading the post about my experiences in Dar, I’ll meet you back here!
I am a fierce, single, black woman in charge of my own destiny. I refuse to let my past insecurities and lack of self-knowledge control my destiny. I am in charge of my own happiness. When I travel, I don’t just travel as a spectator…I go for the entire experience! -Ms. Black Expat
My daze in Zanzibar….
I arranged for transport to the Kendwa Rocks Resort on the northern part of the island which is where I’d plan to spend the next few nights. I literally booked hours before because I was in contemplation about another resort just a few steps down the road. I settled on Kendwa Rocks due to the high recommendation I had received from a friend prior to my trip. Now, I will say this, there are several beaches and resorts in Zanzibar. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options. In hindsight, I’m recognizing that it really depends on your preference, though.
Let me tell you, I found out a heck of a lot more about myself in Zanzibar. I found out that the party scene doesn’t thrill me as much as it did in my 20’s and that in actuality, I wanted a quieter, less busy beach after all. If I was being honest with myself from the get go, I would of settled with a more serene and peaceful beach which would allow me to go untethered for hours so that I could have a bit of privacy and not be antagonized by vendors and beach boys (more on that later). Do I sound like an introvert or what? I thought about that statement. For me, it sounds like someone in need of some serious rest and relaxation in God’s territory. In that current moment, I needed a few moments of stillness and self reflection in the midst of the many transitions that have recently took place in my world. I just moved to Uganda, I am teaching in an international school and I left my son behind. Wow! And…that’s only half of what I’m really going through. No, this is definitely not a venting session but more like an opportunity for me to reflect and digest my life as it is…now.
(Ok so back to this image I had in my head). I had this falsified idea that sitting on the beach with a book in one hand and cocktail in another along with a stylish sun hat could be achieved. I thought I could go hours without socializing with anyone or feeling the need to be completely coherent unless I wanted to. I really thought that I could crawl into some unknown world of solitary confinement and be to myself for as long as I desired.
You can probably tell that this is my first time traveling alone in a while. Oh, by the way, if you haven’t read any of my previous blogs, my son is in the States with his dad. If you are wondering how that came about, check this out. My son and I travel together all the time so going alone felt a bit awkward without an 8-year old in tow. For those of you who know me, you can imagine how I am feeling now without him here with me. God willing, he will join me next year in Africa!
I picked a perfect resort for socializing but definitely not for my intended purposes. I think if I was with my girls or a guy, this may actually work. Better yet, I think the girls’ trip would be best: party scene, great cocktails, etc…ok moving on. Sitting or walking alone as a single female was near to impossible while I was there. I don’t know about you but maybe there was a sign on my back that said, “Hey, come talk to me because I look like someone to talk to.” I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as it may have been God sending his most precious angels to protect me. Real talk. More than likely, they were all beach boys promoting dhow rides, day tours and snorkeling adventures. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were kind and friendly and definitely about their hustle. At some point, it was nice to have someone show me where to go and to suggest the best eateries. Other than that, the majority of my day was spent peddling around the island, drinking an occasional cocktail, trying new foods, people watching and making several attempts to camouflage into the surroundings so I could go unbothered. (yeah right).
Now that I think of it, I have to take into consideration that every culture is different, especially in terms of women and their freedoms. In my opinion, in most societies, a single woman traveling alone is commonplace. However, Tanzania (Zanzibar) is a very Muslim country and females, I’m assuming, generally don’t travel…alone.
By the way, it was election time in Tanzania, one of the biggest elections in the country’s history. Fortunately, no rioting took place while I was there which was 4 days before the elections were scheduled to begin.
The rest of my evening entailed eating dinner and listening to music while engaging in a few side conversations with some pretty interesting people. There was an event scheduled that evening at the resort’s lounge but I wasn’t up to it. I called it an early night.
The next morning, I started my day with a pretty sufficient breakfast. I also brought my computer for internet surfing but was unsuccessful. Why, you ask? Well, let’s just say wifi was hard to come by during my entire time there. Maybe it was due to the elections or just an overall bad connection. Needless to say, I went to the restaurant a few steps down the beach to use there wifi, which wasn’t half as bad.
I was there for about 30 minutes when all of a sudden…my phone started vibrating and a slew of messages popped up on my screen. No need to panic. It was just my good ol pal Elly from Dar telling me he was on his way. What! What do you mean you’re on your way?? I didn’t think that any of that statement was true or necessary, for that matter. I kept reassuring him that I’d be fine and that I really needed some “alone time” in my life.
I couldn’t get in touch anymore so I decided to go on a dhow cruise instead and watch the sunset.
When I got off the dhow cruise, my wifi re-connected. Elly stood by his word and came to Zanzibar afterall! So, my entire time in Zanzibar wasn’t solo as I originally expected.
Expectations? Sometimes its to your benefit to deviate from the original plan…Sometimes, you may think that being in solidarity is the best thing when in actuality, company may be what you need. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m so independent, doing everything on my own, especially as a single mother. In my opinion, there is such a different response level in the way African men respond to women than African-American men do. That’s an entirely different post but I will say this: Chivalry ain’t dead and matters do speak from the heart. Sometimes, the most important messages come in the least expected ways. Sometimes, messages come to you on small archipelagos in East Africa called Zanzibar. Sometimes, life shows you that intentions are not as predictable as they may seem and words more often than not are truly meaningful.
So the next day, I planned to take a visit to stone town. Initially, before Elly arrived, I was going to take a tour through the resort. Since Elly is Tanzanian and can understand Swahili, it worked out
better cheaper for us to go explore on our own. It was time to see what the Zanzibar city life was all about. See that’s the good amazing part of traveling: You can see so many aspects of one place such as the city, country and beach. I love it.
Wait! Let me back up a bit. Just a little PSA…if you do decide to come to Zanzibar and stay at Kendwa Rocks resort and decide you want to check out a day before you’re supposed to…don’t! I’M WARNING YOU! I was able to get out of it, however, they did make a big deal about it and only credited me 50 % of my money. Understandable.
If you visit and are interested in Stone Town, I advise you to do the same thing. Stone Town is about 1.5 hours away by car so I didn’t see the point of having a taxi drive back from Stone Town at night to then turn around and go back the next day to the ferry. Yes, the ferry leaves from Stone Town…so I hope you understand my logic.
Stone Town was very busy with business bustling, people shopping, election parades going, and random old men saying the most hilarious things to you on the street!
I was hungry at this point and was ready for some local food. We stopped at this very humble eatery to have beans, rice and chicken. The meal was beyond reasonable (4000 Tanzanian shillings) which is comparable to $2. You will find most places in Stone Town to be extremely reasonable so don’t worry. Get your palate wet and eat like local! It was enough food for both of us. Cheers!
The next adventure was to the beach. City life was becoming a bit crowed so it was time to explore one of my favorites. Pictures say 1,000 words. I suggest you read between the lines.
After the beach, we headed over to the spice market!
Next, souvenir shopping! Most places and vendors will bargain with the price. I bought some pretty nice finds. I would take the whole store if I could…
Afterwards, we headed across the street to this outdoor food fest which happens daily. I ordered a bit way too much, though. They had everything from calamari, octopus, lobster, shrimps you name it…they had it. I wanted to try the infamous Zanzibar pizza but I was too full at that point. I had my mind made up already that Zanzibar was going to see me again…real soon.
The next day, it was time to return back to Dar es Salaam so that I could catch my flight back to Kampala. Because of elections, there was top flight security all around the ferry grounds. We managed to get on safely and on time. On the ferry, we managed to get a seat in the VIP area. Within 15 minutes after were seated, I started feeling very sea sick. This never happens. I’m not the type to get sea sick or even car sick, for that matter! I ended up moving downstairs to the business section with Elly because I just wasn’t feeling it.
Gosh, that was the longest trip because at any time, I felt I would lose my lunch. Thank God we made it back and my lunch didn’t appear on the floor in front of me. We managed to go to the city one last time before heading to the airport.
So this was my trip to Zanzibar in a coconut shell. I’m so happy that I stepped out on faith, believed in myself and took a chance, regardless if it was alone. I came, saw and concluded that life is what you make it. You can sit around thinking about how you’d like it to be or…you can make it happen!
Once back in Dar, we stopped for some food before going to the airport. All in all, this trip was a great get away in which I highly recommend to the traveler at heart. I learned a lot about self, about life, being single, my travel preferences, reading between the lines and reflecting on life’s most precious moments.
Until next time,