A weekend in the country.

So where was I?  Oh yes, a bit hung over.  Not intentionally but it happened.  And I dealt with it.  Just about. Mainly by sitting inside watching stuff, avoiding excessive movement and the sun.  Then by writing things for this.

It’s been a busy week by and large.  I finished school at 2.15 on Friday, got home picked up my suitcases and by 5.15 I was on a plane for Dar es Salaam and the beginning of my half term birthday holiday adventure.

“Beep de be beep, beep de be beep…”  The alarm wouldn’t stop when I hit the button, even though I was pressing very, very hard and willing with all of my might for it to stop.  It was 7 o’clock on Saturday morning and we needed to get up to get ferry tickets because that was the day we were going to Zanzibar.

I had been sharing a hot, humid room with a partially functioning air conditioning unit at Mongolia’s house with Vicki.  As she went off to clean up in the bathroom, I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but failed miserably.  Mongolia (An American, real name Joyce, but forever to be known as Mongolia because she lived there and that was what she was introduced as) stumbled into the room to say hello.  It was clear that she was still a little hung over if not still drunk.  And just wearing a towel.  She pointed out that we needed to wake the boys and head across the compound to Emma’s house where the others would be waiting for us.  I said I would do it, but Mongolia got there first, scrambling upstairs on all fours and announcing that she knew where at least one of them was.  Luckily nothing was flashed during that scramble.  I suspected that Phil had perhaps managed to find himself a lady so went into the room to wake James…  But instead of finding James it was Phil, his face bleeding, passed out on the bed.

A drunk American… A missing bloke… Another bloke with facial damage… One captured tiger and we would be in The Hangover: Tanzania.  But alas, no tigers (or babies, luckily) were to be found.

Mongolia got dressed whilst I was in the shower and found James across the road sleeping in a child’s bed.   (In case you were worried the child was sharing with his mother who had offered James the bed so that he didn’t have to share a double with Phil.  James had very gratefully accepted.) He wasn’t in a good way that morning.

The night before we had all gone to a pub called The George and Dragon where we ate pretty good Western food and exchanged stories about drunken nights past.  Having led a relatively sheltered life, my stories were rubbish, especially compared to Chloe’s friend Emma, who had been kind enough to put us all up for the night.  The drink was flowing (whiskey and lemonade for me thanks) and tales were told of friends who were incontinent, fake hen dos and terrible things that had been done in night clubs.  Truth be told it was probably too much for a folkie primary teacher to hear so, when Vicki said she needed to go home, as her contacts were beginning to fuse to her eyeballs, I thought I’d go back with her .  Emma, as a perfect host recognising that we were strangers in a strange city, offered to come back with us and Chloe felt she should too, to keep Emma company.  So we tumbled into a taxi leaving James, Phil, our Emma, Mongolia and Viv to dance the night away.  And it seems that they did, coming back to the compound and deciding that a brilliant thing to do would be to go swimming.  This was where Phil broke his face, apparently he sat on a bench but missed falling face first into the floor.  They got to bed at about 3 in the morning and so didn’t get to sleep a whole lot before we ungraciously woke them up.  James didn’t mention that at all during that Saturday.  ‘If I’d had a few more hours sleep I’d be fine now.’ Right…

The ferry we wanted was booked up so we would have a 6 hour wait until we could set sail.  Unfortunately, my residency permit isn’t stamped in my passport yet, so my ticket was three times that of the others, but it was still pretty cheap, so who can complain?

We whiled the hours away before the ferry at Slipway, eating ice cream, trying to stick plasters on Phil’s face, reading books, drinking coffee, buying books and scarves.  James slept a little. I think the café owners were probably not best pleased with us sitting there with all the luggage but we bought food and drinks so they couldn’t complain too much.  Eventually we got to the ferry and set off across the Indian Ocean to the gleaming isle of Zanzibar.  I took my travel sickness pills and tried to sleep for most of the journey.

At Zanzibar port I had to fill in an arrival card and then battle through the crowd to meet the taxi that would take most off us to our hotel (James had his own hotel in Stone Town).  As we passed the customs man he wondered aloud whether we had any guns in our luggage and he seemed extremely put out when we said no.  ‘Why not? You’re allowed them.’ I know what I’m taking with me next time…

The hotel, Furaha Resort, (I still can’t pronounce it) had a restaurant overlooking the beach, a pool and Bush Babies roaming around at night.  A quick stop off to get clean, changed and dump bags before heading back to Stone Town for the Sauti za Busara Music Festival.

Held in the Old Fort in Stone Town, Sauti za Busara is now in its tenth year and showcases musical acts from across the African Continent.  If you are interested in world music (I am) then it’s a great festival to go to.  There is one main stage and an amphitheatre with a big screen showing contemporary African films and music shorts.  After a certain time of night it screens the acts from the main stage so that those with tired feet can rest and watch without missing a beat.

We danced, we drank Conyagi (probably spelled wrong but it’s a Tanzanian gin type thing) and we ate street food.  I had an octopus tentacle, some mishkaki chicken and beef (kebab meat basically) prawns and chapatti and it was good.

Sunday most people wanted to rest and relax, but I’m not really one for sitting by a pool or on a beach all day, I like to get out and about a bit and I am now treating each visit somewhere as if it’s my last.  I arranged with Fiona and Alex to go on the Spice Tour and have a Swahili cooking lesson.  I’ll not go into it much here because I’m going to save it for the food blog I’ve neglected recently.  But it was cool and I guessed most of the spices that were being shown.  Only Cardamom eluded me.  It’s a sneaky type of spice.

After my trip out and some synchronised swimming practice in the pool (yes you read that right) it was time to go back for the last night of the festival.  More gin, comedy photo taking, dancing, CD buying, T-shirt buying, babysitting (we were very responsible) and eating octopus.   Next year I’d like to stay in Stone Town and get to a bit more of the music but since I’ve not been to a festival in over a year, and in years past I’ve been to 5 or 6 in a summer, it recharged my musical batteries somewhat and I’ll have to find some more to go to in the summer.

Tales of Monday onwards will have to wait, I’ve got limited internet and will be trying (probably unsuccessfully) to add some pictures to this blog.  But you can’t have all of that excitement in one go now can you?

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