Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Will I ever get all the sand out of my backpack? - January 5, 2004

I'm back in kampala again, home from my 'vacation'. From Stone Town, zanzibar's main city, I took a dalla-dalla (the tanzanian equivalent to a matatu, a minibus) to Nungwi, a little village at the tip of the island, a trip which took about an hour and a half. The dalla-dalla trip was actually kind of a fun adventure- it was all open air, and it was nice travelling along being able to loook at the scenery and have the wind breezing by. (And thank goodness for the breeze, cause they really pack people in - at one point there was 28 people in a vehicle that is probably meant to hold 12!) It was funny watching the women with their babies on the dalla-dalla- as they got on and off, they would pass their baby along the line of hands until the baby got out the door. One woman handed her baby to stranger to hold as she climbed into the vehicle, moved down the row to find a seat, and then proceeded to just stare out the window - she didn't collect her baby until about 25 minutes later when she disembarked! I watch my bottle of water more carefully than these guys care for their babies - it's bizarre and funny!

I picked Nungwi as my desitination because the beaches were supposed to be amazing and it was supposed to have the most social atmosphere and 'party scene', which i thought would be good for New Year's, with a plan to then spend a couple of days more off-the-beaten track. When the dalla-dalla arrived there a tout took me to see the guesthouse he worked for - i figured i might as well follow him, because I don't know where else to start. The place was kind of disgusting so i said i was going to look for something else. Well, i went to every single hotel/guesthouse/bungalow complex in the village - probably about 10 places - and they were all completely full, so back to the gross guest house i went. (It was the day before new year's after all, which explained the busy-ness.) At this little guesthouse was two English guys and a Japanese girl, who was also travelling on her own. I spent that first afternoon just wandering and exploring the beach by myself, which was lovely. It literally was the most amazing beach i've ever been on - wide, totally white, incredibly soft, fine sand and the most bright turquoise warm water, and each beach go-er probably had a 100-meter stretch of beach to themselves. The weather was fabulous the whole time - in the 30's at least i'd guess, and blue skies the whole time. In the evening i went back to the guesthouse and went out for dinner with the japanese girl and these two guys she had met. We went to this all-you can eat seafood barbecue place that is right on the beach (and i mean 'in the sand' not 'within view of the beach'.) The next morning Kita, the japanese girl, and I went snorkeling, where we met lots of other people on the boat. One of the people we met was this German girl Katharina, who i ended up spending a great New Years Eve with, along with these two australian girls and an american guy (they didn't snorkel, they came along with Katharina.) Nungwi and Kendwa, another village 2 km down the beach, are largely backpacker-resort towns, so there was a couple hundered other people there to meet and socialize with, which we did. The village was small enough that I ran into the other 15 people I met snorkeling several times, and after a day-and-half you actually end up feeling like you have a social circle of friends, which was fun after all the semi-solitary time i've had so far.

One thing that is sort of funny - about 80% of the people I met the past two weeks were people working/volunteering in africa who were on christmas break - hardly anyone was just on vacation!

I spent four days in total in Nungwi, and I didn't want to leave ! :-) The plan to move somewhere off the beaten path was abandoned - i was too relaxed to care, and 'touristy' in africa is a pretty relative term, so it was easier/better/more fun just to stay.

On saturday katharina and kita and I took the dalla-dalla back to Stone Town (we were all sad to leave!) and I bought a plane ticket back to Kampala. After that great relaxing vacation i couldn't bear the thought of sitting on the bus for 30 hours! So, then I flew back to Kampala yesterday.

I can't beleive i'm in uganda and i have that 'ugh, back to work feeling!'


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