Tanzania, Day 1. The Beginning.

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.

#ZanzibarDay1

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Tanzania, Day 1 (in no particular order)


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

South Africa, for now.

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.