Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


(Cheetah on the look out for Thomsons Gazelle. This completed a full set of animals spotted on the Serengeti.)

There were a couple of quiet days after the game parks as we drove down through Tanzania towards Zanzibar. This was a good time to get to know the group together.
(In the Serengeti. me, Nikki, Jane, Nick, Brock and Alex.)

The group is very different to the one I went round South America with. Firstly, there are 28 people on the trip, which makes for a very different dynamic to the eight people on the previous trip. Also, I now find myself the second oldest person on the trip, when i was the second youngest in S Am. There are quite a few people under twenty. Good luck to them - I was still going to Crete and Majorca when I was 18, which (in some ways!) wasn't quite as fulfilling a voyage of discovery as Southern Africa.
(The lads in the group. Back row, L-R, Josh, Rod, Brock, me, Cal, Nick, Alex. Tim and Sam in front and some of the locals.)

I like the big group. And I like the people on the group too. There's a good mix of Brits, Kiwis, Aussies plus a few others, including a crazy Canadian.

However, one thing that's perhaps not as welcome with a big group is the 'impact' that we have as we travel around. It's impossible to be inconspicuous. When the truck stops anywhere populated, we are an attraction in ourselves. Plus getting people on to and off buses and ferries can be time-consuming and a bit of a process. The three hour ferry journey to Zanzibar was a case in point, though at least we cleared customs pretty smoothly.

Zanzibar is beautiful, laid-back and with great diving and snorkelling. In some ways it reminded me of Belize. Even speaking some Swahili was a bit like talking Creole.

We had a couple of days relaxing when I had the chance to do some diving and snorkelling. Really enjoyed getting back in the water and there were some nice things to see though nothing amazing to report. I won't forget the dive in a hurry though. My dive buddy (crazy Brock from Canada - he's a good guy though) sucked through his air in twenty minutes and i buddied him back to the surface. Went up far too fast though and hurt my eardrums. A few hours of constant pain and fuzzy hearing will remind me to ascend more slowly next time...

After we left the beach resort in Zanzibar, we headed to the main town of Stone Town, famous as the birthplace and home of Freddie Mercury.

I had an afternoon of frustration and expense on the phone to the UK after my bank claimed that they couldn't find my savings account. Quite a serious concern at any time (!) but as I was reaching the limit on my credit card, I was about to run out of money.

Sorted now, but a wasted afternoon left me with a desperate need to releave some tension with a big night out. And it was a big one! We at last had a chance to go out on the town with the locals and get away from the tourist bars. We got to a club where there was a lot of bumping and grinding going on - reggaeton (think Sean Paul) being the music of choice. And after having had plenty of practise in Belize I was able to go mental with the locals!

Next stop Malawi, where the weather isn't looking great, but fingers crossed for some top diving.

Last stop in Tanzania was at a handcrafts market. I've bought some really nice souvenirs. Carved wooden tables, chairs, boxes and other handcrafts are beautiful and very cheap. Carrying all the stuff I've bought home will be the only problem. That said, the craftsmen are keen to do swaps, especially on watches, clothes and shoes! I won't trade my watch, but I might be able to make some space in my rucksack by trading a couple of t-shirts.

(Herds of wildebeeste in the Ngorongoro crater.)

1 comment:

Graeme said...

I can confirm that the aforementioned Majorca trip in Calums teens was indeed er "unfulfilling". Two memorable moments:
1. Calum insisting on sleeping on the beach (himself), me sensibly returning to the hotel. Calum wakes up and goes back to the hotel, but unfortunately I am unconscious and so he has to sleep outide the door (with a local canine) for hours.
2. One of us going up to a local girl and asking if she could speak English. To our great surprise, she said "yes", and... that was it. No thought had been given to the next line.
But that was a lifetime ago. Now you can't shut him up...!!