Right now I really need some of this….
By “this,” I mean really warm weather. This is the part of the Minnesota Winter that I find totally unbearable. The anticipation of a white Christmas is long since past, and the glories of Spring are devastatingly far away. Seriously far away, like still 2 or 3 months away. Oh well, I will always have Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is one of those places that I spent most of my life believing was fictional, much like Katmandu, Bohemia, and Transylvania. These places surfaced in the stories of my childhood, and like Tikitikitembo and Babar, they remained there. Unlike Tiki and Babar, these places were desinted to emerge as real at some party in college when I tripped over my over-confident, tipsy words and pronounced, “whatever, Bohemia is for hippies and it is totally imaginary!” We have all had those moments.
Well I confirmed Zanzibar’s reality last Winter, when I traveled there during my trip to Africa. I have to say, as far as imaginary places go, Z-bar really lives up. This magical little island off the coast of Tanzania is nothing like I have ever seen. The city of Stone Town is a twisted, salt scarred, fully inhabited relic of colonized Africa. The door are still pegged with brass barbs meant to injure charging elephants.
The beaches are beautiful, and the shopping is one of a kind. The food is interesting, and cheap. We follow the Anthony Bourdain philosophy of eating while abroad – the street food is the best food. Never mind the reheated, indecipherable fish, or the crab meat stuffed into the same “display” shell over and over again (probably for years), you can’t beat this experience. We did end up getting sick, but the causal dinner was more likely the fancy, touristy Italian place we ate a few nights later.
Z-bar is a special place, only grazed by the hand of time. It’s a place where the bottle water brand is “drop,” and their plastic bottles inexplicably break if you lose hold and they drop to the ground. It is a place where the daily Muslim call to prayer echoes loudly off the tightly packed buildings and sounds like it’s being broadcast from a children’s tape recorder in 1985. It’s the place where my feet touched the Indian Ocean for the very first time. Finally, it’s a place where Obama was president long before election day.
If you ever find yourself there, be sure to ask for the Zanzibar Pizza.