I was happy to loll around in the sun in Zanzibar, but for a lot of the time, I was mentally engaged with developing the music for King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba – a new music theatre piece that I’m creating. Sometimes I rehearsed in spurts of activity that lasted for 7 – 8 hours. In those moments, I would nip down to the main office at the Dhow Countries Music Academy for a cup of tea in short breaks (British habits die hard). The photos on my Instagram page might give a very different impression, but many of those snaps were taken when I paused to take a breather.
There was one day in Zanzibar when I simply explored and had fun. That was the day that I went to Prison Island. Formerly a holiday retreat for colonials that also had a centre for quarantined patients, the main attraction on the island was a group of giant tortoises.
I explained to German Pass – my chaperone and friend, that the Tortoise is regarded as the main trickster figure in Yoruba folklore. According to the information provided on the island, they are also considered to be the species with the longest potential life spans as well. Each tortoise on Prison Island had his or her age written on the shell. Several were over 100 years old, apparently.
Travelling back to the UK was more demanding than it needed to be, especially since I had to spend a night in Addis Ababa on the way back. Getting a transit visa and working out where to catch the designated mini-bus to ferry me to the hotel in Addis was very hard work.
Colleagues asked if I was refreshed when I returned. To be honest, I’m still recuperating from the travelling at present. If only there were direct flights from the UK to Zanzibar….! Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?