Last week I had to opportunity to take a little time off and kick up my heals. It was amazing, exactly what I needed some may say. I’d been focusing most of my time on studying and not doing much for myself so it was a necessary break after the repetitiousness of my life.
On Sunday September 15th I entered a Tanzanian college classroom with two other volunteer friends and we trudged our way through the GRE. We all exited with a slight smile on our faces giddy from the fact it was over. The real fun could finally begin.
The crew that I planned to do the beach vacation with arrive the day prior to the GRE (Saturday) so they spent all of Sunday running around purchasing things they had forgotten or need for the trip. Monday morning we woke up early and made our way to the ferry terminal bags in hand. We couldn’t be more excited to look like a big pack of tourists toting bags on both our back and our chest while looking around excitedly. We made it on the ferry and off we went arriving in Stone Town, Zanzibar somewhere around noon. We walked to the hostel where we would spend the first two nights and settled in. This was my first hostel experience so upon arrival I had many questions but in the end it was an awesome experience and I would definitely stay in one again.
After arriving we decided to just spend Monday wandering around and looking at everything we could see; nothing too note worthy this day expect the fact they we were in Zanzibar finally!!! Tuesday we woke up and grabbed breakfast at all different little cafes and then made our way to tour the slave trade museum. Although I didn’t take any pictures of the actual slave trade facilities, I did take pictures of the amazing cathedral that was erected right next to it. After the museum we flagged down a boat and bartered a price to take us to prison island where we fed 100+ year old turtles (tortoises?) and jumped off the pier to swim in the ocean. After returning back we got read for the evening, had some dinner, and completed our last night in Stone Town by “touring” the local bars.
Wednesday we were surprisingly lively and woke early, ate breakfast, and again bartered with a driver to take us to our next location, Pwani Mchangani, on the northeastern side of the island. While staying at the hostel we met loads of guys from all over the world doing solo travel and we inherited three of them to come along with us to this new place, one just for the day and the other two ended up spending the day and one night with us. Although people were up bright and early, ready to go, the drive was a little more relaxed, as the night before had finally settled in and people dozed off. After about an hour we made it to our destination to find that we were staying in a 2 story, 6 bedroom, 8 bathroom fortress right on the beach, it couldn’t have been a better site to wake up and arrive at. What made it even better is we were perfectly positioned between beach front resorts, a fresh fish market, and to the front many shops with local (cheap) food available so we were livin the life. We spent the next three days waking up without alarm clocks, building sand castles, swimming in the ocean, and exploring the island. We ate oatmeal burritos, beans and rice, fresh caught seafood (pretty sure I got a slight touch of food poisoning) and drank alcohol we had smuggled over from the mainland (it’s so much cheaper there). We did everything you would expect a bunch of normally solitary Americans to do when they finally get together at a relaxing beach vacation; we just were.
Saturday morning was a sad day for everyone as we mourned the leaving of this beautiful place in exchange for the return to our reality. We took a car back to Stone Town, made a quick pit stop to load up on gelato and other delicious foods, and then boarded the ferry for the trip back to Dar. In Dar we shared one last dinner together and at the end of the night I hugged everyone and told them most likely the next time we’d see each other would be at our close of service conference in January. We’ve made that joke throughout the entirety of our service every time we leave each other but this time is seemed real; crazy how time has just been flying. Sunday morning I woke up and early got on a flight to Mwanza, after arriving in Mwanza I got on a bus and made my way back to Shinyanga.
It was an awesome vacation and seeing it end gave me quite a bit of sadness. But now I’m back at site and have a couple more things planned that I believe will take me right up to January when we go to close our service so wish me luck as I try to end this thing strong!