Disasters

It is extremely hard for me to write a light and entertaining post this morning. The last few days have brought chaos and difficult times both here in Botswana, other areas of Africa and back home in Canada.

Here in Botswana after experiencing weeks of unrelenting heat, humidity and little rain the weather has finally shifted. While rain was desperately needed – all of Gaborone has been on water restrictions for well over a month and dams across the country remain low – the heavy rains in some areas are causing natural disasters.

Yesterday morning I learned about a village in the western part of the country that received over 250 mm of rain in less than 24 hours. Not only is it experiencing flooding but more than 15 homes, traditional mud huts, collapsed as a result. These homes are all these people have and the flooding in these areas is dramatically impacting agriculture as well. This weather shows how delicate is the balance in nature between replenishing and disaster.

Across the continent of Africa, there is violence caused by both nature and mankind. At times it is truly dishearten.

Add to this the fact that my friends and colleagues back home in Prince Edward Island at Veterans Affairs Canada are once again the target of government cuts. The Federal Government of Canada is determined to cut a grand total of 800 jobs by 2015  from the Canadian Ministry that provides services to Canada’s veterans.  On Thursday 233 people received letters that told them that their jobs were being cut.

My friends and colleagues were on the receiving end of these letters. Even though I am here in Africa these cuts are affecting me. Yes, for now my job which I am slated to return to January 2, 2014 appears to have escaped the slash and burn that the department is undertaking. But I feel intensely for my friends who either will not have a job in the very near future or must compete against each other. Perhaps this is why the movie/book “The Hunger Games” was so popular. It appears that this cruel game of pitting people against each other in a survival match is an acceptable tactic in the bureaucracy.

I truly don’t know if I am more angry than sad. Yes, everyone in the department has known that cuts will continue to be made. And I have no doubt that some cuts are necessary. However, what is not fair are the cruel ways in which the cuts are inflicted. You add in those who have worked for a long time and could safely retire to allow those younger and with limited safety nets to stay secure, yet their greed to have more keeps them there in jobs that they truly don’t care about. That truly angers me. I don’t care who I offend by saying that! If you have a reasonable pension to exist on, do the right thing. Step a side and give someone else the same opportunity that you had.

I don’t like this world that we live in that is dominated by greed not caring!

To my friends and colleagues, yes, I am far away here in Africa, but I truly feel all of the frustration, anger and uncertainty that you are experiencing. Since coming to Africa you have been an incredible support to me, please know that I am here to support you as well.

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Photo of Lawrence

Photo of Lawrence

Mr Zimbabwe – Lawrence asked me to post this picture of him so you all could see exactly how much swagger he has!

Can’t Forget about Lawrence!

So when I wrote my post the other night about being so happy to be reunited with Tabuche, I should have also expressed that I was just as happy to also reunite with Lawrence.

As followers of my blog know, there are two very special men in my life here in Botswana. Tabuche only gets me for small portions of the day. Poor Lawrence is mostly stuck with me for about 9 hours of the day! So one could claim that he bears the brunt of Cheryl 😉 Now I know that he has your full sympathy.

Yesterday morning after being dropped off at my office, Mr Zimbabwe (aka Lawrence) strutted into the office looking very sharp in a new suit that he had purchased at home. I am not sure that I have ever remarked on the fact that Lawrence is a bit of a ladies man under the right circumstances. In fact, one day we were in a building for meetings and Lawrence disappeared out of the blue from the office in which we had just finished meeting. In searching for him, I found him directly across the hall at the reception desk of another office that also deals with HIV and AIDS issues. I can not possible tell you how much swaggering and charm were oozing from him as he happily flirted with the receptionist.  (oops! I think that he is going to kill me when he reads this) This was the first time I had seen him pour on the charm, not to say he isn’t charming almost everyday. However, I still tease him about it!

It was so nice to see him looking so happy and sharp. Others in the office frequently tease me that I reserve the happiest greetings for Lawrence and they would be right. In fact, it is them who started the competition between Tabuche and Lawrence by asking me who I like the best. As I have noted before that it is a completely unfair question and quite frankly, I am not giving up either one of them without a fight.

I was happy to know that Lawrence had such a great visit home to Zimbabwe although shortened because of work demands. Spending time with his family is incredibly important for him and I figure that the reason he assists me with some many personal things is because he knows exactly how it feels to live in a foreign country and have no one to count on. Well, I got really lucky because I have Lawrence.

While Tabuche chauffeurs me to and from work, Lawrence becomes my personal driver during the time as he is often required to either drop me off or pick me up from meetings. I always feel guilty asking him but he never makes a fuss about it. It is certainly not in his job description…in fact, he really doesn’t have a job description…which I am suppose to be sorting out for him. But he is the hardest working person in our office. He is responsible for our finances, he also does triple duty as just about every other role (IT, HR, Resource Mobilization, Monitoring & Evaluation, etc) I think you get the picture.  So to add Cheryl’s work driver on top of that you can understand why I feel so guilty.

Yet today was a perfect example. I spent the morning at WUSC for a meeting so I was dropped there by Tabuche. However, yesterday I had asked Lawrence if he could pick me up when the meeting was finished. Of course he said yes. So when Stephanie (another ODA) and I decided to have lunch together at an Indian restaurant a distance from the WUSC office, Lawrence didn’t even blink an eye when I asked him to pick me up there. In fact, at the set time he strutted into the restaurant to get Stephanie and I, gathered up my large pile of files and notebooks from the table and carried everything to the truck for me. Ah! What a gentleman!

So yes, I am happy to be reunited with Lawrence. He makes my day at the office so much better. We talk, we laugh, we giggle over music and lots of silly stuff. He is almost as silly as me at times. I am truly blessed because I get to work with him every single day. He is one of the smartest, nicest and silliest young men that I know. After corresponding with his mother over the holidays, I am now officially considered as his big sister and I am so very proud to be known as that!

 

Reunited with Tabuche

While I have been so busy writing about Zanzibar, I haven’t had a chance to talk about one of my favourite men! Tabuche,  of course! It was not until January 8 that we actually got to see each other after a two and half week separation.

As I was working from home all week (the BONASO paid staff were all of leave) so it was easier to work from home on some mind numbing work that I had to do. However, I couldn’t imagine letting a whole week go by with spending time with one of my favourite Motswanas. Tuesday morning I decided to take a quick break from my work and make a visit to the post office to post some items.

A quick phone call to Tabuche and I was assured that he would be happy to pick me up in less than 15 minutes. Waiting outside my gate with an armful of things to post, I am not sure who was smiling more when he pulled up. Him or me! It was certainly nice to know that he missed me as much as I did him.

His hair that he had shaved just before I left is growing back. When I had questioned as to why he had shaved it, I wondered if it was for a religious reason, he assured me that no, it was only so he could have new hair for the new year. I like that concept. He is a handsome man but I have to admit that I like how he looks much better with hair than without. Yes, bald is sexy but I just like Tabuche better with hair than without.

And just because he is Motswana, doesn’t mean that I can’t tell him so. He often compliments me when I am wearing something that he really likes. Most notably when I look like a lady! He really likes that – which makes me wonder, do I not look like a lady most days???? But actually, I have determined that he usually compliments me when I am especially happy, not necessarily dressed up. As he did yesterday when he picked me up to take me to a friend’s house for dinner. I was wearing my bright pink scarf and smiling, he immediately told me that I looked beautiful. Now you know why he is my friend!!! I also informed him that other drivers, I had in Tanzania accompanied me shopping…we both agreed that would tax our friendship and agreed that he never be asked to fill that role.

Any way, I digress. We had lots to catch up on. He wanted to know about my trip and I wanted to hear all about his trip home to his village and the work that he did with his brothers on his father’s cattle farm. See while I was going to “rest” okay, we all knew I wouldn’t rest but I could relax, Tabuche was going to work just as hard if not harder than he does here in Gaborone. He works six days a week with his first pick ups at 6 am or earlier in the morning and answers my calls until 10 pm at night. Plus, up until this year, he and his wife grew vegetables on a plot outside of Gaborone and his wife sold them to supplement their income.

His father supports himself through raising cattle and goats. Cattle are big business here and beef is exported to other countries. Most of the cattle (that are not wandering the streets of Gaborone) are located outside of the villages in cattle posts. Often these cattle posts are 10 to 15 kms away from where the owners live. Tabuche has told me stories of how when he was 9 and 10 years he would bicycle to the cattle post with his father. This was a huge achievement, as you had to rise early in the day to leave before the sun got too hot and the terrain that you cover is hot, dusty and there is no relief from the heat and sun. Although he has four brothers who mostly are older than him, he was the one that regularly made the trip with his father. This is further evidence that his work ethic has not changed one bit since. Activities at the cattle post usually include hunting, cattle branding and vaccinating and while there are cattle herders always on site, owners need to go regularly to check on their livestock and tend to their needs as only owners can.

Here in Botswana, when festive season hits and places of business are closed for the holidays, the Batswana head home for the holidays to the villages in which they grew up and where mostly likely their parents and relatives still live. Tabuche headed home to his village, where he has also built a small house with his own hands in which he plans to retire. He was accompanied by his daughter, who he claims is not nearly as good company in the car as I am 🙂 A friend of Tabuche also drove with them so at least he had some company.

His plans were not to rest but to help out his father and brothers as much as he could. In fact, the other day he told me that he and his four brothers dug an entire pond by hand at the cattle post for the goat-herd. Yes, so while I was having fun, he was working hard from dawn to dusk. Telling me that the only time that he spent in the house that he built was to return at night to sleep. I know that he loves this house as he often talks about it.

However, what is more important to Tabuche is ensuring that he helps his parents when he can and planning for the future for he and his wife and children. In fact on Tuesday he proudly showed me something that I am sure that he had never shared with any of his other clients, but we are now friends. He is now the proud owner of four cattle of his own and he has his very own brand to signify ownership. I got to see the brand registry documents and it was so wonderful to see the happiness on his face when he showed them to me.

You see, cattle are not only a symbol of wealth for Batswana, but they provide an excellent livelihood. This is because cattle are not only a symbol of wealth , but also a source of livelihood for Batswana. They are the main source of meat during celebrations as well as funerals and are usually sold to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in order to secure much-needed funds to support a family. I asked how much a cow costs here in Botswana and it is a huge amount, 4,500 pula which is about $569.00 Canadian dollars. He would have had to save for years to afford one, let alone four. But this is the man who when he first came to Gaborone lived in Old Niledim which considered to be the slum of Gaborone. It is located not far from where I live and he has taken me in there to show me around. The people who live there live in poverty, yet he worked hard and was able to build a house in a better part of town and owns his own taxi company with four drivers. Can you see why I admire and adore him?

In total, I actually saw him four times this week as he picked up parcels from home at the WUSC office and delivered them to me and took me out for social engagement. However, I am so happy to be going back to work tomorrow morning so he and I can resume our daily rituals as there is always something to discuss and learn about!

Final Day on Zanzibar

Well, that about covers the travel log on Zanzibar. I have all ready pretty covered my final day with my friends Saidi, MD and Maki in my December post Polepole.

 

Here are a few more pictures to share with you

View from my hotel window
View from my hotel window – that is the corner of the Old fort

 

Tight squeeze
Tight squeeze

 

 

View from Africa House terrace
View from Africa House terrace

 

Stone Town harbour in front of Africa House
Stone Town harbour in front of Africa House

 

 

It was hard to leave them but we had fun our last couple of hours together and I frequently hear from them now via email.

Saidi - Philosopher of Love
Saidi – Philosopher of Love

 

The details that I have not shared with you are my experiences in the ferry terminal.

 

The que to board the ferry back to Dar es Salaam
The que to board the ferry back to Dar es Salaam

 

As you can see, it is a rather long crowded line up. And what is actually very funny is, there is assigned seating so you are guaranteed to have a seat. Okay, maybe not exactly the one that your ticket claims is yours but there is always a seat. So what I don’t understand is why people choose to stand in a long hot line up for 45 minutes when they don’t need to?????

As evidenced by the picture I am certainly not in the que nor do I join it until it is actually moving. And guess what, I got a seat!!

While not standing in line, I spent the time observing my surrounding as I filled in yet another departure card and had my passport stamped again. It was interesting as you can see, the waiting area is literally an open concept space with a tin roof and no walls, other than the immigration office. There were some local men working on replacing some of the roof panels and I was fascinated. It was definitely not a work site like we would experience back in Canada.

The worker who was replacing the roof section was barefoot, only the worker who was actually using the saw to cut the metal sheets was wearing shoes, albeit sneakers not work boots.

What do you mean occupational health & safety????
What do you mean occupational health & safety????

what you can’t tell from the picture is that his only safety gear is a long strand of twine used to haul the piece of steel up to where he is working. If you look closely you can see the two strands blowing below them – also note the bare feet. In the next picture at least this guy had some type of scaffolding to stand on, although it doesn’t look that safe! He is also in bare feet….

 

Note the Kitty
Note the Kitty

It was interesting to learn that while there are lots of kitties in Zanzibar (just like Polperro in Cornwall, England). It is  rare to see a dog. I saw one twice in Stone Town and was told there are only two dogs in total in Stone Town. Cats are popular and look distinctly like Egyptian cats. Every one feeds them and they are actually treated very well – including not being run over by zooming dala dalas if they can avoid them.

Dogs on the other head are not popular with Muslim people so there is no population of them on the island. It was funny that I actually saw the same dog twice a day apart. A sighting is truly rare.

This kitty was looking for food tidbits from waiting passengers and actually got feed a very nice lunch!

A Zanzibar Kitty
A Zanzibar Kitty

Okay, I think that just about wraps up my trip to Zanzibar except I now need to write about some the great conversations that I had and lessons learned. They will be worth waiting for I think!

Day out with Razak

Sadly I was down to my second last day in Zanzibar. Luckily, I had met Razak, who promised me a fantastic day out that I would remember.

Razek

When I had met Razak the day before down by the waterfront, he struck me as an amazing young man. Like my other friends that I had made, he was Muslim, unfailingly polite and respectful. But he was also different. I really can’t describe the difference other than he is a young man going some place in the world.  Although he is currently working in a restaurant, he is on stand by for a job at the Zanzibar Airport where he will be on the counter checking guests into flights. That will be a great job for him as he is so personable, speaks several languages fluently and is just a good person. I would not be surprised if he ends up in a much more significant position with an airline. His education is in information technology but he is definitely a people person.

The day that he had planned for me was to visit some of the other sites in Stone Town that I had not seen so far and the promise of an ocean breeze and beach. We started with a visit to the Hotel 236 Hurumzi, which Razak swore was the best ariel view of Stone Town on display.  What I didn’t know when I agreed to the visit was that the only way to access the roof top was to climb the stairs….let’s just say poor Razak had to be very patient with me. As he is so young and fit he was able to bound up them no problem. I on the other hand truly struggle with stairs because of my ankle which he knew nothing about.

And once I finished the climb (not thinking about how I was going to get down as that is always harder for me than going up) it was definitely worth the effort. Plus there was a bar/restaurant on the top where you could stop and rest.

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And up we went!

The view was worth it!
The view was worth it!

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And now you have seen a 360 degree view of Stone Town
And now you have seen a 360 degree view of Stone Town

On the way down, which we took very slowly and Razak diligently ensured that I did not fall on the stairs. He suggested that I stop and take this picture.

A tempting oasis on a landing on the way down from the roof
A tempting oasis on a landing on the way down from the roof

He even offered to take my picture lounging on it! I declined because if I snuggled into I was sure that I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Give me a book and something to drink, I could have stayed there all day. Who cares if it was on a landing with people coming and going.

After visiting a couple of other sites it was time to head for the cool breeze and beach that Razak had promised me. It was very exciting as we were going to travel there on a dala dala. Fortunately we were on before it filled up completely so we actually had a seat on the wooden bench that runs around the whole inside. Quarters were very close as we were practically sitting on top of each other. I was jammed in between a very young girl and an older man. To keep my balance as we rounded corners I needed to place my hand on the ceiling above me to brace myself. It was insanely fun.

For somebody who is driven to work everyday by the nicest calmest man I have ever met, it is hilarious how much I enjoy noisy crowded public transportation in exotic locales.

Following a twenty ride, we disembarked and Razak led the way to the Zanzibar Beach Resort Hotel. But first he had to ensure I wasn’t run over in the street. Remember, traffic can be crazy here and if you don’t pay attention all of the time you could find yourself in trouble. Not that I would ever get into trouble.

After a considerable walk through and across wooden boardwalks suspended above a valley, we emerged into the Resort’s restaurant and bar area which sat suspended over the beach directly on the water. Just as he promised, there was the nicest breeze flowing through.

The view from where we ate lunch
The view from where we ate lunch

Sitting there enjoying the breeze and the sea air was lovely. The food was great. I had Zanzibar Prawn Curry. Just thinking about it makes me want it again. It was so delish.

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I couldn’t help remarking as we strolled back along the beach when we met several men running on the beach. You have to be certifiable to run in 40 degree heat and humidity. Instead, Razak and I sat underneath the shade of a tree and relaxed.

Finally it was time to leave the resort  and make our way back to historic Stone Town. This time along our walk back through the suspended boardwalk I took Razak’s picture along with others.

A canopy of green by the boardwalk
A canopy of green by the boardwalk

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Being prepared for planting
Being prepared for planting

Razak, informed me that the sides of the ravine that we were suspended over were being prepared for planting by the locals. It accomplished two goals. One, protected the soil from wash out when the heavy rains came and two, provide vegetables for the local families. Smart thinking.

As we emerged back out onto the street I noticed a nursery. Razak proved what a gentleman he was as when he saw how delighted I was by it, he arranged a personalized tour of it for me.

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Like everything else in Zanzibar – green and lush

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Man, did this young man ever know how to make me incredibly happy. A beach, a tummy full of seafood and a garden nursery full of exotic plants. Oh, and who can forget the rides in a dala dala. Cheryl was one happy camper! But he promised me one more perfect experience to end off the day. A moonlight visit to a grassy park in front of Africa House where we could feel the cool night breeze while watching the almost full moon. Plus, he promised that I would see shooting stars. So a date was made for later on that night.

After being safe returned to my hotel (these incredible men, everyone always walked me right up to the front steps of the Maru Maru) I got out of my wet clothing, showered and headed for the hang out corner. By now it was late afternoon so I spent the rest of it hanging with Saidi, MD and Maki along with various and sundry others. Once again talking about women’s rights, development on Zanzibar, politics, you name it. The discussion was so great that we continued it over drinks and snacks. MD, even joined us after securing the okay from his wife who had recently given  birth to their second son. MD puts in such a long day with his shop and doesn’t get that much time at home with his family so I was honoured that he took a couple of hours to join us.

Arriving back at my hotel escorted by Saidi at 10:30 pm the hand off to Razak was made. Aren’t I a tart? The evening ended perfectly with a seaside view of the full moon and yes, in deed I saw shooting stars. And what was even more impressive was that the security patrol stopped to check on me to ensure that as a tourist all was well. So now you know why I think Zanzibar such a wonderful holiday location.

Power outrage

Well Canadians, I am happy to report that the power just went out in Gaborone. I thought that you would be happy to know that you are not the only ones enduring power outages due to severe weather conditions. 

Granted it has been insanely hot here for days now and thunder has been rumbling in the sky for the last four hours. No rain yet but the power did go out. At least we aren’t freezing in the dark…only sweating. 

In fact, I couldn’t have any less clothes on if I tried. I know a happy imagine to leave you with!

Zanzibar Continued with lots of Pictures

Green everywhere!

Today you are getting to see of the sights I saw when I visited Jozani Forest and the Butterfly Conservation project. As you can see from the photo above, Zanzibar is an incredibly green island. In fact a few times when I was being driven through rural areas felt a bit like I was back in Wales with the tall trees creating a lush green canopy over the road. It truly is beautiful.

First we are heading off to Jozani Forest Reserve which is a national park. It is located about 35 kilometres south-east of Stone Town. It was a lovely drive to get there as you can see from the picture above. Just travelling through a different part of Stone Town afforded some great sights like this

loaded Dala Dala

Glad that I didn’t need  to squeeze into either those, as you can see they are full and last one on has to hold on and stand!

It is a wonder I didn't bring a bull back with me!
It is a wonder I didn’t bring a bull back with me!

This is a market in the more modern section of Stone Town and it is where those who have very little can shop and get clothing and household items for their families.

I wasn't tempted to shop here
I wasn’t tempted to shop here – how would you find what you are looking for?

Okay, back to Jozani Forest. It is the home of the rare to Zanzibar, Red Colobus Monkey which I really wanted to see and was not disappointed.   About 10 years ago, the monkeys were considered to be in danger of extinction, but this trend has since reversed due to the conservation project. There are about 6000 red colobus monkey residing in Jozani Forest. The Rain Forest has also been expanded to include a Mangrove Forest which is an amazing ecosystem and worth walking through. Lucky you will get a taste of it through my pictures.

Here we go –

Can I grab its tail?
Can I grab its tail?
A Momma and her baby
A Momma and her baby

What you can’t see is that as I am taking the pictures of the mother and baby there are two other monkeys directly over my head watching me and throwing pieces of leaves down on us. By the time I switched the camera around to capture them they scurried off to swing on some branches too far away for me to photograph them. These monkeys are definitely not shy and very use to tourists tramping through their rain forest and taking pictures. And actually my guide warned me that it was best not to stand directly under them as they have been known to pee on visitors heads. I guess when you have to go, you have to go. I was fortunate enough not to be peed on!

Baby was ready to come down to meet us, maybe??
Baby was ready to come down to meet us, maybe??
This the base of a coconut tree that no longer exists. It looks like a space alien to me.
This the base of a coconut tree that no longer exists. It looks like a space alien to me.
And here is a beautiful Zanzibar Apple Tree in bloom
And here is a beautiful Zanzibar Apple Tree in bloom
it sure doesn't look like a Canadian apple tree does it?
it sure doesn’t look like a Canadian apple tree does it?

Interestingly enough on our forest exploration, my guide showed me this piece of Zanzibar Coral right in the middle of the forest. Apparently at one time in history the entire rain forest had been under the sea and that is what makes it so incredibly fertile today.

Zanzibar coral located in the middle of the forest
Zanzibar coral located in the middle of the forest

Now we are venturing into the Mangrove, which is actually a swamp area with very complex root systems for the three types of mangrove trees.  This mangrove forest  is extremely crucial to Zanzibar’s ecosystems, providing a habitat for many lizards, snakes and birdlife as well as preventing the coastal erosion.

Mangrove Root system
Mangrove Root system

You walk on a boardwalk path around the tidal mangrove swamp to see these trees of critical importance to the island’s health as they help to protect Zanzibar from coastal erosion, purify its waters and provide nutrition for the outlying coral reefs, which in turn pay host to much of the archipelago’s marine life.

Sadly, mangrove poles make an excellent building material also, and were harvested for a long time before awareness of the importance of Zanzibar’s mangrove defences grew. But now these special trees are protected again and alternative timbers are being used in building projects.

How is that for a root system?
How is that for a root system?

Roots 2

Mangrove trees
Mangrove trees
The stream that runs out to the Indian Ocean
The stream that runs out to the Indian Ocean

It was utter tranquillity to stand here with no one else around and listen to the sounds of the forest. My guide was brilliant. He took me the opposite direction of all of the other tour groups so we got to be here all my ourselves. While we stood and listened, he also told me that he is studying to be a traditional doctor. No, not a witch doctor, there are lots of those in Tanzania. But a traditional doctor who knows how to use nature’s plenty to heal. He is studying with a local doctor and is now very learned in the use of herbs, tree barks and roots and other natural medicines. It was fascinating to listen to him talk about it. He was just another in a long list of interesting and wonderful men that I met on the island.

After spending several hours in the Forest, I was then off to the Butterfly Centre, which is a netted tropical garden containing butterflies nature to Zanzibar. The Centre, started by a Scottish man who was looking for a way to save the local environment particularly the trees which were being cut down for cooking fires, introduced butterfly breeding. The Centre pays approximately 15 local people who farm the butterflies.

Butterflies emerging
Butterflies emerging
A beauty who was just born!
A beauty who was just born!

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Snack time!
Snack time!
Butterfly facts
Butterfly facts
One of my favorites - love the polka dots
One of my favourites – love the polka dots
Careful where you walk
Careful where you walk
Fluttering beauties
Fluttering beauties
Can't get enough of the polka dots
Can’t get enough of the polka dots

After a blissful hour here it was back in the van and home to Stone Town. I had a date with my new friends, Saidi, MD and Maki to hang out and talk. But first I was dropped off by the waterfront so I could grab a bite to eat. It was about 2:30 and all of that walking made me hungry. Well, when I came up to the seaside cafe that I wanted to eat at I was greeted like a long lost friend. See my previous post “What did Cheryl Do Last Night”!

It seems that I had cemented my presence in Stone Town and all of the locals felt like they knew me. I am not sure what that says about me. Any-ways  I order a Zanzibar pizza and was ushered to a waterside table shaded by an umbrella with the chef promising me a very special meal. As soon as I was settled and greeted at least three other guys who apparently had seen what I had been doing for the past couple of nights, another young man introduced himself.

Razak was on holiday for Christmas from his job in a restaurant and was eager to show me around town. He was young (about 27), intelligent, articulate and very knowledgeable about Zanzibar. He joined me at my table and talked to me while I was eating my lunch. Before I knew it I had a date for the next day. He promised to show me the sights that no one else had yet and take me where I could really enjoy the breeze off of the water and relax on a beach. Trust me, he didn’t disappoint but more about that later.

Leaving one handsome young man to join three others, I walked back up my street from the waterfront to a chorus of hellos and where have you been all day? Once I got close to our corner, I was greeted by a couple of men whose names I didn’t know but they knew me, of course. They wanted me to know that the gang was not there right now but they would go find them for me. How is that for service.

Saidi,MD and Maki
Saidi,MD and Maki

After assuring them that I needed to duck into my hotel for a quick change of clothes but would be back in half hour they were delighted to know that I would be back shortly. Arriving back at the Maru Maru I only had two men waiting for me. One was my guide who had not accompanied me on the day’s trip but was checking in to see if all was well, and I am sure hoping for more business. I was happy to inform him that I had no more need of services as I had a full consort of local men eager to tour me around for free.

So by the time that I was back out on our corner sunset was once again not long away. Saidi asked me if I would like to go watch the sunset from the terrace of the Africa House hotel. How could I say no to that? So after a too brief visit with MD and Maki, et al, off Saidi and I set for Africa House. The Africa House building dates back over 150 years. Its original owner was a wealthy slave trader from Oman, who shortly before his death handed the property over to the Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1888 the first English Club of East Africa opened in this former royal residence. The original interiors of the club included a bar, restaurant, library, billiard room and guest rooms. At a later stage a terrace was built, which is the present day’s Sunset Bar and a popular meeting place amongst tourist as well as locals. This is where we were headed to watch the sunset. So was just about every other white tourist in town!!!

Luckily Saidi is very efficient and was able to organize the placement of a small table and two stools almost right at the balcony so we had a specular view. You be the judge

Sunset over Zanzibar harbour 1

Sunset over Zanzibar harbour 4

Sunset over Zanzibar harbour 7

The terrace was also the site of traditional music and dancing –

Dancing on the terrace of africa housetraditional entertainment

It turns out that Saidi and I were on the terrace from about 6:00 pm until he walked me home at 11:30! We sat there and talked for hours about topics like love, wishes and desire which I will happily write about in an upcoming blog post. What a great end to a perfect day!

Mr. Gecko Update

Last night the stubborn genes that I inherited from both sides of my family trees kicked in. I was determined that I would not be sharing my bed with a reptile so Mr. Gecko had to go, one way or another.

He spent the evening scurrying around in my rafters and upper walls of my bedroom/living area. I opened the front door and gave him plenty of opportunities to depart in a dignified manner. I then attempted to influence his going out but I was way too short and the ceiling way over my head. So a trip to the main house was undertaken to secure a long handled broom or mop to use it as incentive for Mr. Gecko to leave.

Jetske, after informing me that they have never had a gecko in their bed (what can I say, I have a magnetic personality), suggested that I simply spray him to death with a can of “Doom” insect spray. Typically I am not a cold blooded killer but I take sleeping alone very seriously. Armed with a brand new lemon scented can of Doom, Mr Gecko and I faced off. Let’s just say that my bedroom/living space was sprayed very liberally with me following Mr. Gecko where ever he navigated to.

After killing many other insects and waiting an hour or so with all of the lights on so I could track movements, I went to bed fairly secure in the knowledge that I would be sleeping alone.

This morning Tanyala and I did an exhaustive search for the body….it was not found. So either Mr. Gecko found his way outside through an open window in the kitchen or has simply found somewhere else to hide I am not certain. What I am certain of is that he knows that I mean business and he is not welcome in my bed!