Busy Baby

Dhow Sunset Sail


Following up on yesterday's tale...we traded the stifling heat of Stonetown for the sweltering breezes off the Indian Ocean, as we traveled to the northernmost tip of Zanzibar.  We also traded the ancient sheik's palace for a more modern resort which actually had AIR-CONDITIONING via generator for 12 hours every night. Paradise!  At least we got relief when we were sleeping.



Now THIS was more like it!  The hugest bed I've ever slept in...the size of two doubles put together.



And we were ever thankful for the mosquito netting, which was pulled down for us after dinner. We even had our very own can of Raid bug spray, which we and the housekeeping staff used liberally. At least we knew we had been faithfully taking our malaria medicine....

Oh, and we had LIGHTS!  It's the little things in life...  In Stonetown, with no electricity, when it got dark it was DARK!!!  We had little flashlights that we used sparingly, not wanting to run down the batteries.  But a creepy place gets even creepier when it's in total blackness!



The beach lounges were, um, rustic and uncomfortable...but the view was spectacular.  High tide was HIGH...



...and low tide was LOW...



The difference between the two was a good quarter of a mile...astounding!



The sunrises were quiet and breath-taking...



...the people were unfriendly and even downright hateful (I got a Swahili tongue-lashing from one of these women!)...



...the pool was inviting and (dare I say it!) even cooling...



...and the scenery was spectacular.  I've always said that any time I'm gazing at tropical turquoise waters through palm tree leaves, life is good.  Even if it is 120 humid degrees in the shade...



My hair was, well, absolutely untameable and out-of-control.

Hair+no electricity+120-degree heat+120% humidity+ salty ocean breezes= THIS!!!  But who cares...I'm never going to lay eyes on these folks again....



So anyway, our mostly-pleasant stay at the resort halfway made up for the hellish experience in Stonetown, and our last evening in Zanzibar we decided to take a dhow sunset sail.  For just $75 (a bargain, we thought!), they'd take us out in our own private dhow for a cruise along the shore and to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

We had a brief incident in which the room key (mounted on a wooden keychain... which proved to be an important detail) and the money and tip (which were in a ziplock bag, which also proved to be important detail) floated out of Kim's swim trunk pocket as we were wading out to the boat, and we could see the ziplock bag heading quickly out to sea. We yelled at the mate (who spoke no English, but apparently understood female American hysteria!) and pointed, and he swam out to rescue the bag of money.  The key, due to the wooden chain, floated in the water and we were able to recover it too.  Not a good way to start the evening...

Our "ship's" first mate loaded our valuables (aka my NICE camera and backpack/purse) into a tub and carried them to the dhow.



A dhow is an Arabian boat that sails in the Indian Ocean.  This dhow that sailed past us was much bigger than ours.



Think Waterworld, only less seaworthy...





We enjoyed a nice sail along the shoreline, even seeing several dolphins along the way.



Our first mate...



...and his buddy, the boat's captain...



...and Kim and I (out-of-focus...taken by the mate who knew nothing about cameras...).  Just the 4 of us, out in the Indian Ocean on a rickety boat with no lifesavers and total darkness just minutes away. What were we thinking?!


But the sail was lovely and just as the sun was getting ready to set, the captain picked up an old rudder and air-guitared a couple of Elvis songs.  Classic!  He can barely speak English (the first mate, none at all..) and he's crooning Elvis....





A beautiful sunset...




...and then it got dark.  Really, REALLY DARK in a hurry.

It wasn't late, only about 6:00 pm.  And still hotter than gee-whiz.  That was the hardest thing to get used to...being right on the equator, every day was 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness, all year long.

And so, they pointed the boat back toward our resort.  Let me tell you, when the sun goes down and there are no lights on the shore at all, it is DARK!  We could barely see our hands in front of our faces by the time he stopped the boat.  

In the middle of the waster.  NOT at the pier.  The captain told us we were to get out of the boat and swim into shore from there.  SWIM???!!!  Are. You. Kidding. Me????????

He wasn't.

"No."  I told him in my most emphatic brave (an act!) voice.  "We are not swimming into shore."

"But Ma'am," in his very broken English.  "I can't bring the boat into the shore.  We may crash on the rocks.  You will need to jump in the water and swim in."

Kim was silent.  "WE WILL NOT SWIM INTO SHORE!!!" I wasn't kidding.  "We will spend the night on this boat before we will jump into the ocean and swim to shore!"

I was shaking and trying not to cry.  And no, I wasn't kidding.  There was absolutely NO WAY I was jumping into those dark treacherous shark-filled, jellyfish-infested, and who-knows-what-else waters.  No way.  I'd absolutely spend the night on the boat first.

I think he knew he'd unleashed a pale American monster, and if he didn't find a way things were going to get ugly soon. So he reluctantly and carefully paddled the boat into knee-deep waters (even those were too deep for my liking!) and delivered us back to the resort.

A fitting ending to a memorable trip to Zanzibar.  Once-in-a-lifetime, for sure.  And I'm sure that young man had a laugh with his friends over the crazy American lady at the end of our...

...dhow sunset sail.



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