There isn’t a lot I can say about the country without gushing except I wish I’d spent more time there. The decision to go was a last minute one after a camping trip in South Africa fell through. A hidden blessing.
The Namib Desert was amazing! Such beauty stretched out to make me feel both small and large at the same time. If I figure out my YouTube page, I’ll post a link to a video from on top of Dune 45 soon.
The little plane gives a vicious lurch and the guy beside me curses and latches on tight to his pillow. I’ve been silently calling him an asshole for all of the 1.5 hour flight – he kept bumping me without an “excuse me” to be heard – so I feel little sympathy for his burp of panic. The plane lands us all safely in the end and not even one last jab of Asshole’s bony elbow can dim my excitement.Tanzania. Finally!
After an intense and expensive encounter with customs (proof of yellow fever vaccine, $100 US, etc.), I run out into the heat to find myself a taxi and my Stone Town hotel room for however long I’m here – I only bought a 1 way ticket.
Out in the streets, most of the women appear to be Muslims and are covered from head to toe, so after my very necessary shower, I throw a shawl over my tank top and make sure my skirt goes to the knees. But…that doesn’t stop just about every man breathing nearby from calling out, looking, making pet-summoning noises, etc. at me. I’m irritated. The streets are dusty and the sun is blazing. Sweat drips under my shawl – how do the women wearing black niqabs and burkas do it?! – and the maze of streets quickly has me lost with no beach, street food, or scenic alleyways in sight.
I’m not miserable, but my excitement has definitely left the building.
Passing for the 3rd time a clutch of boys – one of them calling out “dred, dred” like he has Tourette’s – I seriously contemplate relocating to a hostel on the other side of the island where all I’d see are fellow backpackers, beaches, and a well-stocked bar to drown the last of my high expectations in.
But, I rein in the drama and retreat to my hotel room for a nap. Things usually look better under mosquito netting and a strenuously working ceiling fan. I hope.
There’s a stash of menus by the front door of the restaurant, but I’m pretty sure the smiling young man in pressed black pants said that nothing on the official menu is actually available tonight. Instead, smiling wider, he leads me to a display of food and says: “This is the position I will start you off with tonight.”
After a visual tour of the menu – intriguing dishes perched seductively behind glass cases or on low-lipped cast iron skillets – I settle on rice bread, spinach in coconut milk, a chicken BBQ skewer served with unknown to me side salad, and a glass of mystery juice. About TZN 4,000 shillings. $2.#ZanzibarDay1
It’s beautiful here. An aching and excruciating beauty I didn’t expect. Not because I didn’t think Africa would be beautiful but because even as I sit in this exquisite place, the realities of its plundered and pillaged people and landscapes are impossible to ignore. Diamonds, gold, land, success, the certain and brilliant success of one’s children. From what I’ve seen so far, these things are alien to many whose ancestors lived tribally here. And that breaks me with every breath.
Walking through parts of Croatia, Angela and I saw our fair share of confederate flags. The damn thing seemed like it was everywhere. On T-shirts. As giant wall murals. On booty shorts. Each time we saw one, Angela turned to me and said, “Do they even know what that thing represents?”I thought, despite the appearance of American iconography, music, catch-phrases all over the world and often separate from any original context, these people knew damn well what that flag stood for. But we couldn’t find anyone to ask.
Finally though, in Berlin I saw this. Question answered.
So, I found out currywurst is a thing here in Berlin. Maybe in the rest of Germany too but that’s too extreme of a guess for me to make. Anyway, I decided to try it since I am unofficially eating my way around the world.
I feel I should preface my reaction to currywurst by saying sausage isn’t really my thing. Even cut up into bits and covered in what I will assume is a curry type sauce. This, I think, is a fairly safe assumption. When I saw the signs for it, I basically asked the universe why? Out loud and frequently since I kept seeing stands advertising currywurst like it’s actually a thing people regularly buy. And maybe even enjoy.
At Berlin gay pride, I was feeling good. The sun was all shiny. And I had euros. The food cart lines were long and everyone seemed to be in the process of stuffing a sausage in their faces (bratwurst), about to get a sausage from an approved supplier, or was eating French fries. So I decided then and there to try this chopped sausage. With fries.
It was actually really good. I couldn’t begin to identify any known version of curry as being part of the sauce, necessarily per se. But I don’t know everything about curry so… Anyway, the currywurst was good, the fries were delish, and a good time was had by all my taste buds. Overall, an A+ situation until my body, immediately after the last bite, decided it needed to get rid of the sausage. But not from the front end.