Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Change-up

It is Sunday morning here in Zanzibar and I'm enjoying the opportunity I have to just chill out.  My friends and I - apparently known as the traveling crew - left Friday after our language tutorial for Jambiani.  We've spent quite a few of our weekends in Bwejuu and figured it was time to venture out and try something new.  Both Jambiani and Bwejuu are small beach towns on the east side of the island, but word was that they had completely different vibes.  Bwejuu is pretty secluded, so we decided to head for Jambiani to enjoy a livelier weekend with the locals.

We arrived in Jambiani after a long and detoured daladala ride.  For those of you picturing the daladala picture I posted back in January, here is a picture of what they look like in Zanzibar:

They are open-air and packed with at least as many people as you see in the first picture.  Our daladala on Friday was also carrying bags of cement piled on top as high as the sticks you see in the second picture.  We took several deep breaths (every time the roof above us sank a bit and the poles on the sides began to buckle), looked at Roger (our resident expert in all things) for reassurance that we would survive the trip, and began our 1 1/2 hour journey to Jambiani.  After a few extra detours to deliver goods and pick up more people, we made it to Jambiani in what turned out to be almost 2 1/2 hours.  Thank goodness for iPods.  A local hotel owner took us down the beach to the area of bungalow hotels that were more in our price range and we settled in to our rooms for the weekend.

Here's the great thing about our group:  We usually just take things as they come and are willing to try anything once.  Well, we tried Jambiani.  And now I am waking up in my familiar room in Bwejuu, after a great night of playing cards and watching the meteor shower from the beach.  Our friends here at Pakacha Bungalows sent a taxi to come get us in Jambiani and bring us "home."  Ally took our dinner orders late afternoon and sent a runner to get Kingfish, crab, and octopus from the local fisherman for our dinner.  We ate a feast!  I had freshly-caught crab cooked in coconut curry sauce, with steamed rice, spiced vegetables, salad and home-made chips (ie: big french fries).  I was stuffed.  Life at our little island getaway is pretty good!

This week we have mid-terms at school.  There will be a LOT of studying happening in the next 4 days.  Classes have been going great and I'm really excited about all that I have learned.  Some days it feels like I have so much more to learn or I am so far behind some of the other advanced speakers, but when I look back on what I knew when I arrived and compare it to what I know now it's pretty incredible.  It really is amazing what I am learning even when I don't realize I'm learning!

The next few weeks will be pretty busy with mid-terms, a few weekend trips, another trip or two up north to Arusha/Moshi and planning for the next phase of my fellowship.  We also have two upcoming papers and presentations due for our Swahili classes.  Everything is in full swing now.  It's hard to believe that we only have 7 more weeks left in Zanzibar.  I'm making some changes to the second half of my program here in Tanzania and I'll update you all on the new plans soon.  Until then...

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