Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar: (Day 13) Dec-23-2013

I couldn't sleep in--woke up at 6:00.  Breakfast with Debbie, Vincent, and the two women from Costa Rica.  The others had gone snorkeling--I opted out.  I had gotten cut up pretty nasty by my flippers in Kande Beach, Malawi and my sores were just starting to heal...only mildly infected at this point--don't worry Mom, I made sure to pick the scab with my filthy hands and to clean it out using the tab water and rubbing dirt on it to keep it healthy ;).

Much of the Group Goes Snorkeling for the Day, Nungwi, Tanzania (Zanzibar)

I took a nice walk along the beach and whenever someone came up to me to sell something I used the most successful strategy--I looked directly at them and said, "I am so sorry, but I do not speak English very well, have a good day".  I made sure to say it very clearly, thus if they were keen to it they would pick up on the complete sarcasm, but none of them did--they just followed with, "oh, what you speak, Italian, Spanish, hey you what you speak?"  I just continued walking and they would finally leave me alone...more quickly than if I just ignored them.

Massai Attempt to Sell Good on the Beach, Nungwi, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
It's 6:50 pm now and I'm sitting on the beach-side deck sipping a Caipirinha--quite a tasty drink.

Earlier today I sat out a bit and watched people para-sail while I listened to my book-on-tape.  It was around 3 when I ate lunch with Godfrey and Tabby.  It was nice talking with them--I'm starting to get a better understanding of the lifestyle here in Africa.  Even though they are not from East Africa talking with them still helped me to understand South/East 'Africa' more.  We talked about schooling in Zimbabwe and cost of living.  I had asked how much their phones, car insurance, school, etc. cost.  Godfrey said he had purchased his phone for $300--I recalled there is no subsidy here like as in the entire US market.  Tabby said his auto insurance was $50 which was for 4 months.  If he had wanted to get a more comprehensive insurance policy it would cost more like $100-$150 per 4 months.

Godfrey was telling me he was contemplating a trip to NYC.  We discussed how I thought trips to/from Africa were expensive and he disagreed.  He thought you could travel between the two continents for under $1000 USD.  He searched the web on his phone (VERY slow wifi at the hotel) and showed me a listing that read out, "75% of all African airfare".  It was a paid Ad on Google's front page.  People in Africa do NOT have the same experience with the internet as the rest of the world.  Their internet comprehension is equivalent to that of an 80 year old's who is just learning how to log-in for the first time.

I have been in Africa for over two weeks now and feel my understanding of things are getting better, but still not complete--any trip shorter than 3 weeks would prove fruitless, unless one is just coming for 'sights'.

I sat out poolside and talked w/ Debby on our opposing/similar views on Africa--she had brought the subject up.  I had an 'epiphany'  during our conversation--the only way I can drop my 'negative' views on the African people is to accept the following; The African people are not a people that need help nor should their lives be judged through lens of by western/eastern society's standards.  I am mostly thinking about their short life expectancy, reluctance to use modern (and available) medicine,  lazy lifestyles, refusal to practice 'family planning', etc.  For all that know me you know that I am somewhat of an idealist and it is in my nature to believe that everyone is 'capable' of pursuing their dreams with enough effort and forethought.  So when I see this 'African' lifestyle I get frustrated because they are not accomplishing a set of standards that I HAVE SET.  I have viewed these standards as static, universal, and truly virtuous--that's Ayn Rand's influence (for the better and the worse).  Even in the largest of cities I notice charity offices for all the types of aid relief.  Free HIV testing (and treatment in many places), free condoms, and advisers for everything you can imagine.  These resources are largely unused and the African lifestyles has  grown accustomed to 'hand-me-outs'.  It is so ingrained in the culture that they see white people as $$.

Most of the Africans I have met are genuinely nice, but many of people (much less in smaller villages) expect something from 'us'.  This made me mad because of the 'set of standards' I have developed were not being practiced, despite all the African aid.  I have come to terms with the notion that these People are their own people and that they deserve the lives they have chosen.  I don't mean anyone deserves to suffer or be sick...but overall they deserve and have earned much of their current lifestyle.  I would say that all aid should be stopped, but there are economic benefits for western organizations to provide this aid.  I always wondered why there were white range rovers in front of almost every "Charitable" organizations here--it's because of all the $$/profit involved.  Consider "The Salvation Army"--they receive inventory for free yet they SELL the clothing in bulk to African distributors, which in turn sell them at markets to people.  Even the poorest of Africans are not getting these clothing for free.

Hopefully you can piece together my 'epiphany' from this frenetic jumble of ideas, but I have to eat breakfast and get a move one.  I will most likely not re-read this and will just continue with the rest of my day when I get another chance to write...probably on my ride to Stone Town in a couple hours.

I had a 'Zanzibar' Massage at 5:00.  This was a combination of a Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage.  A long story short--it was the most uncomfortable/relaxing thing of the day.  There was  one large room sectioned off from the outside by a as you can imagine, no a/c.  There were three women working here and none of them spoke a word of English.  I showered beforehand so I would get all the sand off me but somehow the massage managed to be somewhat exfoliating--sand was just everywhere, as too where the flies.  The girl was unfriendly from the start.  Halfway through the massage I think I caught her trying to read into my pocket and take my money...some bills were exposed.  When I had noticed what had happened I tucked the bills deeper in my pocket.  As I lie on the table beads of sweat just pooled and dripped down all parts of my body.  Within a short period of time the flies and the beads of sweat were indistinguishable from one another.  Once my body acclimated to the sweat I began to notice the flies more easily.  While she was working on one limb I was twitching the others to rid myself of the flies.  It was  hardest when they landed on my face/eyes and I couldn't move my arms enough to shake them.  All-in-all it was a worthwhile experience though very uncomfortable.

I had 2 $20 USD bills and handed them to the lady and asked for change.  She seemed confused but after asking the woman 'in charge' she figured out she needed to get change at reception.  She came back from reception and said "they no take" as she showed me to 1 of the bills, which had a small tear in the center of it.  I said, "Ok, no problem" as I reached in my pocket and handed her another $20 bill.  5 minutes later she came back with 2 $10 bills.  I am not sure if she was trying to force a $5 tip or that reception just didn't have the change.  I am inclined to believe that she's just a moron.  I said, "Ok, that's fine and walked away with a $10 bill in my hand.  I had decided to tip her $5USD even thought she provided sub-par service--she needed that money more than I.

Restaurant in Nungwi, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
I relaxed, showered again, and went out for a happy hour drink for 7,000 shillings.  Cara, Stephanie, Divya, and I went to the restaurant next to us, Laungi Laungi, for dinner.  I had ordered a beer, king-fish, and A calamari/onion/mushroom salad.  The food was pretty good and cheaper than the restaurant at our hotel.  For both lunch and dinner I had grilled veggies in place of chips (fries).

Dinner in Nungwi, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
They had gone for a drink at a bar afterwards and hung out with a wedding party.  There was a wedding at our hotel's beach.  Tabby had some of their wedding cake.  I went back to talk to Kelly instead.  I watched the movie "Choke" afterwards and went to bed just after midnight.

A thought on African life expectancy and savings:
Average life expectancy in these parts of Africa is around 40 years.  I imagine this largely influences  certain aspects of the people's mentality and how they live their lives.  It's much harder to experience the impacts of one's life when that individual dies much sooner than people in a 'more civilized' part of the world.  Also, maybe if Africans lived longer they would think about how they will survive after they are capable of working.  Would they actually save their money instead of buying things like cell phones?  Despite these things, rationality is not a key element in much of daily life here.  It is largely a tribal society believing in healers/witch doctors where people blindly do as they are told-not necessarily what is correct or reasonable.

Goodnight, for now.

Enormous Lobster Caught in the Indian Ocean, Just Off Shore in Nungwi, Tanzania (Zanzibar)