Zanzibar, how to describe you? For many, in the current age, you are a slice of paradise. For some, in a previous age, you have been a part of hell. Your history of piracy and slavery collide with your present vacation paradise destination for many seekers.
Zanzibar. Just saying your name leaves a feeling of the exotic. Seductive. Seeing you brings the feeling of the tropics. Hot. Sweaty. Together they are you. Pure beauty. Hakuna matata, no worries.
To someone who has not experienced you, these words hardly do justice. You are a wonderland with sand beaches which are white as snow, you show off with water that varies between deep emerald green to bright azure depending on the light and you boast a deep, not always pleasant, history that has blended many people in many ways.
The seven days we spent with you gave us a taste, a place to relax, a holiday. A room on the beach watching the tide come and go was a wonderful way to spend our time. Learning that the tides brought such drastic changes in the level of the Indian Ocean where we were was captivating. Walking out on the rocky ocean floor during low tide, seeing how people farmed the kelp and collected the crustaceans was educational. Swimming in your warm waters with the high tide was luxurious.
The spice tour was eye opening. Lush, green forest, hanging fruits, blossoming flowers, climbing monkeys, paths through deep shade and bright sunshine. Learning how so many of the flavors we take for granted can grow on this island and seeing them in their nature was a memorable experience. Pineapple, mango, passion fruit, jack fruit and banana were everywhere to see. Black pepper, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, vanilla and countless other spices were there if you understood what to look for.
Don’t misunderstand our praise as blindness. We know you to be fickle as well. You play hard to get, literally and figuratively. The cultures you’ve combined struggle with each other. Consistent with the rest of Tanzania, your people live Hakuna matata, the life of no worries. The ferry that ties Zanzibar and Tanganyika together is a challenge. Culturally the queue is non-existent and more a mass, with first in line being first and second being more ambitious to become first. As the gate opens so boarding can begin, the push of humanity slowly coaxes itself towards the ship. Here hakuna matata is don’t worry about the push, the shove, the press of people. On the shore you exhibit other fickle tendencies. All items have multiple prices, the local and the tourist price, with the tourist price being significantly more. Hakuna matata here is more as a command to look past the ever present hand in your pocket.
Your two sided mask still exists today in a different way. In spite of it, you are beautiful. With the knowledge of it, you could be even more enjoyable next time.