One of the things I enjoyed most about being in Zanzibar was being close to the Indian Ocean. The Dhow Countries Music Academy, which was hosting my research and development project, is located on a road that runs right next to the sea front. The Academy is based in an old colonial building that has a balcony on the second floor that looks out onto the ocean. Life seems to have a way of providing abundance in one way or another, even if most of us can’t have everything.
I arrived on the island on the afternoon of an Eid celebration. I didn’t plan for this, but since it was the case, I found that the sea front was thronging with revellers in the evenings of the first two or three days that I was there. Forodhani Gardens is set up to look like a food hall, similar to what I saw in Australian cities many years ago. I was advised to be careful about eating food from the stalls by hosts and chaperones, because no one knows about the storage facilities of many vendors. It was exhilarating to wander around in the area, however.
Some young men spent a lot of time diving into the ocean, sometimes doing back flips and somersaults as they jumped. The diving activity seemed to intensify around the time of sunset, which felt risky, as guys jumped in from different angles and I kept on thinking they could bump into each other as they landed in the sea.
I asked German, my friend and chaperone about sharks. He said there weren’t any close to the sea front, which is just as well. On a trip to Prison Island in a rickety boat, he told me a story about a Dutch tourist who swam all the way from one island to another. The swimmer managed to get across, but said he would never attempt to do it again. At one point, German took a risk himself, by resting on a thin tree trunk that could have snapped, thus plunging him into the deep blue sea.
The trip back from Prison Island to Stone Town was very calming. I discovered that I might enjoy sailing as a hobby. We have the potential to learn new things all the time.