Our arrival in Zanzibar was greeted with rain and gloomy skies – an ominous way to start a beach holiday. As we drove through the flooded streets of several small settlements, we cursed for the nth time the fact that our vacation coincided with Tanzania’s rainy season. Fortunately, the eastern coast of Zanzibar, where we were staying, is shielded from the weather patterns that afflict much of the rest of the island. By the time we reached Pwani Mchangani, which literally translates to the sandy coast, we had left the rain behind and had nothing but perfect blue skies overhead. A week on the beach with cloudless skies and 32°C weather was just what we needed after our rain-soaked Kili climb.
Flawless weather; calm, warm waters; beautiful, white sand beach – Zanzibar truly is a slice of heaven, as the name of our hotel implied. Breakfast was served from 8am on, all day, and if we wanted it in our room, all we had to do was call. The 4-course dinner menu was posted at 5pm, after the fishermen brought in their daily catch. The exquisite fresh seafood was a welcome change from the gruel we were fed while in the clutches of the Zara Empire.
We quickly fell into a relaxing routine: sleeping in, lounging either on the beach or by the pool with a book in hand, swimming, taking walks on the beach to collect seashells, and playing frisbee while throngs of local children gathered to watch or did cartwheels in the sand to try to get our attention. We had contemplated several excursions, including a day-trip to Stone Town, but these quickly fell by the wayside as the days blended together in total relaxation. We did manage to get out on a boat for a day of snorkeling at the Mnemba Atoll, thanks largely to S’s insistence.
By the end of our stay, D had amassed such a large seashell collection that S had to intervene to dwindle it down to a select dozen or two. Those of you who have ever returned from vacation with seashells only to realize that they reek as if something had curled up and died inside will be sympathetic to S’s reluctance to take them back with us. However, thanks to a plethora of internet how-to sites, D managed to clean them and has since set up a collection in our bathrooms to serve as a daily reminder to relax and enjoy life.