OK – I’ll admit it. I have been almost ceaseless lazy since I arrived in Zanzibar five days ago. I attribute my sloth to a multitude of things … a dodgy stomach upon arrival, not one but two days in which I allowed the sun to burn me to a crisp (you’d think I would have learned the first time) … leaving me writhing in bed all night – my legs resembling sticks of cinnamon chewing gum (ruddy red covered with a thin veil of white, chalky dust – which in this case is the powdery sand that infiltrates everything). But really – I think my body just needed a break. Day after day of hauling donkey legs around in dilapidated wheelbarrows in 100 degree heat will slow a girl down.
So I decided to listen to my body and, for the most part, just chill out. This M.O. is fairly foreign to me … the one who views being uber productive and “getting sh*t done” as a badge of honor. Thankfully – Zanzibar seems as if it was built expressly for relaxation – and the beach on which I’m staying continues to offer up ample entertainment no less than a few slow footsteps outside my door.
On the first morning … gassy mopeds whizzed by followed by slower bicycles laden with one boy, two boys, three boys (but never girls …?). A few other gangly teenagers sat in an old, box-like contraption as a poor, skinny donkey ran them down the beach, weaving about to avoid the shallow waves. Multitudes of local kids ran around – some trying to impress with cartwheels and back flips off low sand hills.
And then there is the daily parade of animals. I already mentioned Zawadi – the sweet, skinny dog who welcomed me on my first day (I later learned her name is really Lilly but I’m sticking with Zawadi as she continues to be a huge blessing) and ceaselessly greets me every morning – often hanging by my lazy side for most of the day.
But in addition to my sweet canine friend I have encountered … a herd of cows out for a morning stroll, a pack of puppies who, along with their watchful mother, tore across the beach to literally nip at my heals (that is, until they spotted the meandering cows … then they were off like beagles after a fox). There are errant goats and a scattering of roosters.
And let’s not forget the tiny, pale beige crabs who almost blend in with the oatmeal-colored sand – until a wisp of wind blows their cover, picking them up off the ground and floating them in every direction for all to see. When they land, they look momentarily discombobulated and then start their magical, skittering dance again.
With all this entertainment, I have to say that perhaps my most treasured sighting came earlier this morning – right before noon. I was reclining on a chaise lounge (covered in 100 SPF and set up square under a solid thatched covering, thank-you-very-much) when I glanced up from my tattered paperback murder mystery (which I was happy to find amongst all the German and Dutch version of Dan Brown books left on the hotel’s heavy oak tables).
As I gazed at the large wooden boat that I had looked at day after day from this very perch, I spotted a man climb aboard. Which wasn’t too out of the ordinary – except it was low tide and the old boat was teetering on its side, stuck in the sand. As I watched, the man stood on one of the boat’s benches and became very still. Then he slowly lowered himself down to kneel – and then prostrated himself on the narrow piece of wood. Then he rose and started again. The wind was blowing the heavy leaves surrounding me but it felt as if silence descended. I couldn’t look away … even though I felt like I was an interloper. He continued with his prayers, rising and falling… rising and falling. And then he stood – silent and still. Then, he held onto the boat, threw his legs over the side, delicately jumped into the shallow blue water and sauntered away.
So much to see … so much beauty … such unexpected sightings. I’m glad I’ve allowed myself to just be. Think of what I would have missed…