30 October 2009


Some friends and I took the Thursday afternoon ferry to Zanzibar, that iconic spice island off the coast of Dar es Salaam. It dropped us at Stone Town, where we spent the evening winding through narrow alley ways and dark corners. The city is a sweep of minarets, latticed walls, the call to prayer, candles flickering in the dark, the crescent moon, fishing boats moored off the beach, the sharp white curve of the dhow sails, like arrows in the glittering blue water.

From Stone Town we headed east, to the small beach town of Paje, where we did the usual things—laid in the sun, took long walks, went kite surfing, read books drowsily in the shade. And then we collected ourselves for an evening out.

Now, economic development, if it’s working, can bring great things like jobs, roads, and schools, but it can also brings not-so-great things, such as drunken tourists at beach bars. Let me say up front that my friends and I were of course NOT those kinds of tourists—sunburnt and dehydrated, smelling of mosquito repellent, drinking Pina Coladas. Of course not.

After dinner and dancing, the guys decided to shoot some pool. Their opponents: Maasai warriors. No really. (The Maasai lost.)

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