Monday, April 16, 2007


Karibu back to the blog. We are back from Zanzibar and the tannest I have ever seen us. Honestly we didn’t even spend that much time directly in the sun—it was just so hot—and we never wore anything less than 30 SPF. Plus, I now know about seven words in Swahili. (Jambo=hello; karibu=welcome; did you know people actually use the phrase hakuna matata in all seriousness? They do. Often.)

I have many stories to tell, which I will parcel out over the next week or so, but I’ll start with this: I saw my first non-zoo monkey. Let me set the scene for you: It’s the last day of our trip and George, our driver, is going 110 km/hr on barely-paved roads on which people, poultry, cattle, bicycles, small children, and slower cars are constantly getting in the way, causing George to swerve and slam on the breaks/speed up. I am certain we are going to die.

George has picked us up in a different car this day, one with tinted back windows so that when we go through the many police roadblocks, they will not see that he has tourists in the back seat and so will get away without paying them a bribe. Tourists in the car mean you palm the guy 500 – 1000 shillings. (Less than a dollar, but with four or five roadblocks each way crossing the island, these things can add up.) Incongruously to the death-defying driving and the tactics to evade the corrupt police, George’s car is filled with giant stuffed animals and his front dashboard is lined with fake flowers; a pokemon figure dangles from the rearview window.

Jozani Forest lies in the middle of Zanzibar and in the forest lives the Red Colobus monkey. I think this is one of the only places this particular monkey can be found, but I would not take my word on that one. Our first time crossing the island and going through the forest, we had no monkey sightings and, having just finished a spice tour (more on that later), we didn’t feel like paying for a monkey tour.

But on this, our last day, there are monkeys. Oh, there are monkeys! First, I see one dart across the road—luckily for this monkey there are speed bumps at this juncture, forcing George to slow down considerably. Then, George leans into the back seat and rolls down my window. Look, he points. And in the tree are three monkeys, just chilling. They look at us. They have little tufts of hair sticking up over their eyes. They are mostly white with dark tails, but they do have a red tint to them.

Then George is yelling at me—roll the window back up! Police block. We cruise on through—there will be no bribes paid by George on this day. And indeed, we make it to the airport in one piece—only to find our flight has been canceled.

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