Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dude, where's my swimsuit?

I could not find my bathing suit bottoms anywhere. The top was hanging next to the window where I’d left it after my shower but the bottom was nowhere in sight. I searched all over our tiny thatched banda – in the bed, hanging in the bathroom, in my clothes bag – nothing. How could I have lost my bathing suit? We even looked outside in the sand around the bungalow in case it had fallen out or someone had reached in to grab it, creepy but maybe. Remembering the sounds that startled us from our sleep last night, maybe some animal took it. There is was, wedged into the tiny crack between in the two halves of the thatched roof, a tiny bit of light blue fabric hanging from the ceiling. We both stared then broke out laughing. Seriously, my bathing suit was stolen by some animal during the night. Needless to say we had to get the management, who also started laughing when I told them about it, to retrieve it.

We thoroughly enjoyed our last few days at the beach and met up with three of Chris’s friends from high school, Claire, Corey and Laura, who just happened to be in Zanzibar – great coincidence. It was great to have new people to hang out with! We exchanged stories, played cards, read on the beach, and even snuck in a few games of Scrabble.

One of our goals for being in Zanzibar was to go snorkeling, which we had yet to accomplish. We decided to take a trip to four of the islands south of Stone Town back on the west side of the island since it was cheaper and we were all leaving for Dar in a few days. Of course, after a week of total relaxation and zero stress, we had to run into problems at the last possible moment, with the shared taxi ride back to town. None of us where really sure what happened, but what was supposed to be a simple 60 min ride back to town turned into a trip to them local police station.

After talking to a travel agent in town we had arranged to be picked up by a shared taxi for the trip back. Claire, Corey and Laura were picked up first and arrived at our hotel promptly at 11:00 am as planned. Then we realized there were two taxis. A private one for us and a different shared one. Realizing our mistake, the girls started to switch taxis but were prevented by the angry driver of their previous van. Out of nowhere he snatched Claire’s sunglasses off her face. Next thing we knew, one of the other passengers, a testosterone filled guy from the UK was yelling at the guy to give back the glasses. Then punches are flying, everyone is trying to restrain the crazy driver. The guy picks up a rock about the size of a football and starts threatening the dude from the UK. By this time people are coming to watch, hotel workers, locals, there must have been 20 people just standing around watching the commotion. One of the security guards at our hotel called the police and locked the entry gate. Luckily, the fighting calmed down – no one was going anywhere, we all had to wait until the police arrived.

Dealing with police in countries where corruption is commonplace and many times expected is not advisable. Well, we all took a trip over to the local police station hoping that what was a simple misunderstanding wouldn’t become anything more. As the various parties crammed into the small one room station, Laura and I decided to wait outside. The taxi driver immediately started telling his version of the story, at which point it was very fortunate that both Claire and Corey speak Swahili.

Since most of the argument was about the money the taxi driver was losing with less passengers (mind you it was money it didn’t have to begin with because we hadn’t scheduled our ride with him), they explained that we never intended to pay any drivers – we would only pay the travel agent in Stone Town, which both drivers worked for. Luckily they accepted this explanation and we were able to get back into our rightful taxi for the trip back to town. The guy from the UK and his girlfriend joined us, everyone feeling bad for the rando girl by herself who was still riding with the crazy driver.

It was quite the morning. We were all feeling fortunate and a bit emotional exhausted by the time we reached town. But we found a great lunch place, one of three we actually liked in Stone Town, and had lunch before wandering around the streets and browsing shops until dinner. Good food makes up for everything.


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