Life on Zanzibar

We had the opportunity to catch Liz today during a rainstorm on Zanzibar, she was able to give us a quick update on departing Njoro yesterday and the first day of the group’s time in Zanzibar.

The farewell party at the school was really well planned.  The group had lunch with all the teachers and then there was an assembly to close out the time in the host community.  The group was appreciated and entertained with skits, dances, and songs in their honor.  The group performed a medley of songs starting with the Friends theme song > Buttercup Baby > Ain’t No Mountain High Enough > Lean On Me.  Afterwards, there were many photos taken and tears shed because of the next day’s departure.

Afterwards the families came to the school and the group showed them all of their work – the bathrooms, the classroom floor, and the mural of the world map.  Then everyone received thanks and appreciation from the leaders to the families, the girls to their families, and then the families to the girls.  It was very nice and heartfelt.  They ended the day with a reception of snacks and chipsymayai (one of the girl’s favorites) and headed home for the last night with families.

Departure was emotional, but the group was in good spirits and looking forward to Zanzibar and real showers/toilets.  After the plane ride to Stonetown, they landed smelling the sea air — snorkeling tomorrow!  It’s the end of Ramadan so the streets were full of people eating and drinking (everything), since they have been fasting for so long. The group enjoyed a nice dinner and an early night to bed.

From Liz and David last day in Zanzibar!
Our first full day in Zanzibar, we woke up to lots of rain!  As we ate breakfast we watched and wondered if the rain would let up for our snorkeling and Prison Island adventure!  Starting an hour later, the rain cleared to clouds and we were on our way with Ali, our tour guide.  We took a boat ride out to Prison Island where, to our surprise, we got to see and feed Giant African Tortoises!  These animals were huge and had their ages painted on their backs…the oldest one being 181 years old!  As we continued, we made our way to beautiful views and visited the prison which is where people, prisoners, and slaves were held for many years.  It also became a quarantine zone for people carrying the plague that hit North/East Africa in the mid-1800’s.
After our lunch under a lovely beach out cove, we lathered on the sunscreen and went out snorkeling!  The weather had cleared up and we could see beautiful colored coral – brain, finger, fan, trumpet…it was all there!  We saw zebra fish, moorish idols, parrot fish, and sergeant majors, and the fish got a glimpse of our mermaid/merman photo shoot…all life under the sea!
With our return to Stonetown, hot showers refreshed us for an afternoon on the town!  We went shopping for gifts, enjoyed gelato, and ended the night feasting in and out of the restaurant — shwarma anyone?!
Our spice tour was full of life and fun!  Ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, lemon grass, cloves, coffee…there’s a reason these are spice islands!  Lots of teas, fruits, and local treats shared with us by Ali (guide) and the rest of he community crew…we even got handmade frogs made out of banana leaves!
On our way to the beach we slept and saved our energy for Bwejuu!  What a beautiful sight to see!  The beach, the sounds of the waves, and the smell of salt air…we have arrived! Laura and Renald opened greeted us with open arms and we spent the afternoon swimming, going on walks, and enjoying the sun!  A dinner at the beach plus local taraab music topped the night off…hmmm, or was it the game we played?
Waking up to a morning swim and sunrise light was amazing!  It’s sad that today is our last day to an amazing last 5 weeks.  The lows outweigh the highs and the memories we have shared have been unforgettable.  Our day was full of activities of walking on the beach, swimming, and having free time to reflect on our experiences.  We spoke about transitioning back home and the feelings, struggles, and reverse culture shock we may face.  We ended the day with a feast and Nutella cake followed by a few minutes of lying on the beach looking at the stars…


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