Chillin’ out max and relaxin’ all cool…6/15 – 7/4

After two weeks of relaxing on the Indian Ocean, I think we are finally falling into Swahili time. It seemed to take a week to just relax and let the past month/thirty three years just slip away. I would imagine that in another month here we would even start to forget our own names!

I guess that’s just the time it takes to clear your mind and actually listen to the locals when they say “pole pole” (pronounced “poh-lay poh-lay”), which means slowly. It was an easy decision to stay another week here in Zanzibar to allow ourselves to completely relax, to let the tide come up and mix with our anxieties and wash them out to sea (the aptly named Zanzibar Retreat Hotel was the perfect place to do just that!)

I think we have needed this time to find a bit of serenity before gearing up for the next big stretch of travel in a new country…and it has been AMAZING! White sand beaches as far as you can see, brilliant turquoise and jade waters, waking up to the sounds of the ocean out of your open window, blue sky, wearing a swimsuit and barefoot every day, great seafood you KNOW is fresh (octopus, squid, tuna, kingfish, prawns, crab, barracuda), romantic dinners on the beach (sorry to get cheesy but it really was cool – candlelit and all!), and your best friend to take it all in with – what more could you ask for?!

But we haven’t been total slugs for the past two weeks! In between the lost days, we have found ourselves…

  • Snorkeling on a gorgeous protected coral reef called Chumbe Island
  • 35 feet under the ocean surface swimming with dolphins and a sea turtle off of Mnemba Island (the private island where Bill Gates vacations!
  • At the largest film festival in Africa
  • Loving the outdoor food market at the park in Stone Town…especially the lobster skewers!
  • Helping a local family get their business started by being their first ever guests
  • Getting custom clothes made in Stone Town for Missy’s upcoming wedding (just kidding, sort of) -or maybe matching outfits as their gift???!!!
  • Trying to learn some Swahili (we will need it the rest of the trip!
  • Trying to figure out what these weird red, non-itchy dots are on my legs (Dr. Kate, I posted a picture for you so you can hopefully help!)
  • Trying not to get TOO annoyed with beach boys yelling “Obama Obama Obama!!” to get your attention because they want to sell you crap souvenirs, snorkeling trips, tours, taxi rides, massages and the like around the big resorts farther down the beach
  • Trying to do some wedding planning…pole pole
  • Hanging out with our friend Alex (who we met in Ethiopia) for two days. Elizabeth even got motivated to run “10 km” (he is English) or more with him on the beach and said it was one of the highlights of her trip thus far..then both of us being really sad when he had to leave:(
  • Walking endless miles on the beach
  • Getting to Skype with Susie, Katie, Kate (x2), Noah, Marty, Grandma – we miss you so much!!
  • Finishing books – Wuthering Heights, On the Road and Things Fall Apart
  • Picking up some Italian and enjoying great pastas! This is the top holiday destination for Italians (2500/week in high season…and it’s a small island!), so all the local kids speak it
  • Walking out to the barrier reef at low tide to see sea urchins, corals, starfish and such – and the impromptu photo session that ensued when 3 little girls thought it was the BEST thing ever to use our camera and be models
  • Regretting that the picture of about 12 BIG octopi being sold on the beach didn’t actually take with my phone (It was seriously so cool! You could even see the ink in them still!)
  • Reminiscing about Jimmy John’s/wondering why they don’t offer sushi anywhere here when we weren’t stuffed from the aforementioned fantastic seafood

Still…finding ourselves again has be the best part. It was a chance to experience the place we know is there and has always been there, no matter how far it seems over the years with work, stress, just day to day life. It’s who we are and who we aspire to be that usually seems just out of reach, but when you have time and beauty to be inspired, it’s all right there again…and it feels GREAT! It reconnects us to our past and future selves, so we can just live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. A friend of ours in Ethiopia said, “The present is a present because it’s all we know we have,” and it has stuck with me since. And that’s exactly what Zanzibar has been with Elizabeth…a gift.

So with a new breath and a changing tide we are ready to move on. We are leaving Stone Town on Thursday (will miss celebrating the 4th with all of you!) for Moshi on the mainland Tanzania to start a safari that will take us to Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and more!

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