|View out my bedroom window in Zanzibar.
Months ago, I wrote of Zanzibar, land of rare consonants, expecting to be there within the month.
Things rarely happen as we expect.
After more than four months in Kenya, we have finally continued on to Tanzania and on a whim have taken a Zanzibari apartment for the next month.
Zanzibar of spices and Z’s. Zanzibar, epicenter of trade. Zanzibar, home for the moment.
I think I could live in a place like this one day… for longer than a month, I mean.
Cuisines and clothing styles from several corners of the world meet here and intertwine, as do architecture, faces and language. In one hour I might pass a Hindu temple, a Jain temple and a mosque. I could find every spice I know—and many I don’t—on one dusty market shelf. Children smile with faces as diverse as the nations who once (and still) found cause to trade here.
Each time I step outside my door I discover a new road, a new food or a new detail.
One moment, I look up to a shock of blue and green glass window panes. The next, I look down at a mosaic of yellow, terracotta and blue tiles.
I might find a café or shop one day, only to wander helplessly in search of it the next, winding in circles through every lane but the one I seek. If I buy a particularly tasty samosa from a restaurant’s display case one morning, chances are their doors will be closed when I wish to buy another.
I think I could happily live in a place like this, that delights in changing its clothes behind my back, covering one face with a veil while revealing another, opening one artfully carved door to another secret detail, only to close it when I wish to return.
Stone Town is the trickster in city form. It keeps you guessing, turning around and tripping over your own heels, and always, always it holds another jewel in its sleeve to surprise and inspire.
Or so it seems to me, at least.
No place is perfect, and I will delve into other sides of Zanzibar another day, but for now let me leave you with these images of streets that disappear and reappear at will, doors that open at random, exotic fruits with no English names, and shifting veils of revelation.
These are the images that best align with the hopes I had of a place called Zanzibar. Reality has many more facets, but the city herself lives up to her name.
Greetings from Zanzibar—Spice Island; enigmatic destination of ancient traders and modern tourists; home for the moment.
If nothing else, it would all be worth it simply for letting me write “Zanzibar” so many times. Of course, there is plenty else, too…