I truly love Zanzibar but I would rather not live here. The main reason being is that everyone knows your business. Okay, I know that I am white and a single woman travelling alone but come on! Really! How does everyone know me and what I am doing????
I have only been on the Island for a grand total of three days and already I am recognized almost everywhere that I go. The first incident happened my second night here. But today’s incidents take the cake!
When I met my guide this morning he told me that last night when he was sleeping someone called him to report that I was down by the waterfront getting something to drink at 10 pm. Then this afternoon when I was dropped off by my driver I strolled down to a café on the waterfront to get some lunch as all I have been eating for breakfast is fresh fruit and it was now 2:30 pm. As I went up to the café close to where I had been sitting on the seawall the night before enjoying the crowds, lights and brave swimmers jumping from high roofs into the ocean, I was embraced by someone who recognized me from the previous night. He ushered me to a seat and promised to make me a special lunch.
But it didn’t end there! As I was being ushered to the table in the shade right by the water, another guy came up to me and said he had seen me out dancing two nights before at the Old Fort and started dancing me right there. He wanted to know if I was planning on going out dancing tonight too!
Ah, but that was not the end of everybody knowing my business! After enjoying my lunch, in the company of yet another young man who was happy to tell me lots of history and background about Zanzibar as I ate, I was strolling back to my hotel to shower and change before I set out for more exploring. My hotel is only a very short distance from the seafront yet on the walk to it I encountered two more men that knew me and where I had been. One had seen me at the night market eating fresh fruit and coconut a couple nights ago. The other had also seen me dancing!
The one who had seen me dancing graciously offered to take me to Tabour, which is a place where people from Zanzibar go to dance their traditional dances. It is only a ten walk away from my hotel. Who knows I might actually go but honestly I have not stopped for five minutes – so much for rest and relaxing!!!!! Every time I go somewhere, I meet someone and I am off on another adventure. Now we know that this blog’s title is appropriate.
I am really having the time of my life, but please, can I not fade into the woodwork at least a little? The young gentleman who sat with me as I ate my lunch explained to me after witnessing what was happening that Zanzibar prides itself on tourism and making people feel safe.
Well, I can certainly vouch for that! I have never felt safer in a strange town although I still take lots of precautions. And for someone travelling alone I never seem to be alone! At times it is a little frustrating for me but I also appreciate the fact that this Island has a male population, which is more than 90% Muslim and as a whole the way they treat women is second to nowhere else in the world that I have ever been! Although I see plenty of other white tourists including women travelling in twos or larger groups who are not attracting any attention or assistance from the locals that I can see. No doubt that I always have a smile ready and greet everyone in Swahili makes a difference. And I am hanging out on street corners for hours at a time having intense conversations about local life makes me more like a local.
Maybe tonight I will go out in disguise to see if I can escape notice, maybe a burka would be a good choice 😉
P.S. I spent last night on the roof top terrace of Africa House watching the sunset and having great philosophical discussions about African life and culture. I am sure that everyone in town knows about it this morning!