Its one of those words that people utter with awe and amazement. “Volunteer”… Thats what a plucky band of us had the privilege of being called when we taught English and were thoroughly fulfilled with our lot.
It took place on the Island of Zanzibar and it was probably the best experience of my life. Getting to meet the other volunteers who came from all over the world was awesome.
These people chose to spend a chunk of their youth to assist another community, while, at the same time, learning and growing through an experience that will leave a mark for the rest of their lifetimes.
It is without a doubt that I mention that these most uncommon of people, combined with those we aided are a shining torch to future generations to carry on this tradition.
Lets meet a few of them. There was Manoel, an Economics student from Zurich University. He had studied there for a year and also was in the process of completing three weeks national service for the six years after his first year, when he completed nine weeks worth.
He was completely different to me, money savvy. He advised me on more than one occasion. What about Aidan, an Irish bank employee who worked in Frankfurt.
His girlfriend, Catherine and himself gave us a great time for the first week. It was later understood that, after leaving us, they headed for the Maasai Mara on Safari and it was here that he proposed to her.
That was happy news, despite us having heard it second hand. They met at a Catholic summer camp, I’m not sure where.
This is what he told me, anyway. Lilya and I had some interesting conversations, namely about Shakespeare and the fact that she had formed the opinion that Romeo was on drugs. She may not have been wrong:)
What days we had together. Our free time was spent playing volleyball on the beach or at the bar sipping punches on those sensational white Indian Ocean sands listening to Reggae music from Culture and Tarrus Riley, to name a few.
We’d buy ten drinks at a time and party till 1:30 a.m. with the same breeze of the Indian Ocean current from the south that cooled us during the day now warmed us. It was a tough life:) Also brutal was the fact that that we had to watch twenty-something women in bikinis.
As for the people who we met at the bars, they would sit with us and talk all night on the beach. The night sky was like the heavens had been sown with white crystals that set your eyes alight. These were dazzling and we almost always had a clear sky.
Want to try some of their Stoney Tangawizi ginger beer. Its worth buying just for the name but the taste of the cool, fragrant liquid inside means you’ll buy it again and again.
These drinks can be found at almost any bar along the beach and you’ll generally pay between forty to sixty pence per bottle. As for the alcohol, there’s Havana Club and Black Vodka. Preferably you’ll have more sense than to mix these together.
One night a guy, thinking that my half-filled glass of rum had whisky in it, topped the other half off with that drink. Wow! I may be six feet five inches, but even I felt like my head was in the clouds after that one. It was the next morning that I went dolphin swimming at 6 a.m. What a rush!
Well, we bounced around in a ten foot boat the next morning. It was with great excitement that we saw these happy creatures in their natural habitat. They leapt out of the water, dove, swam away and were just fabulous! No decent photos, I’m afraid. I borrowed this one.
Other excitements included the Spice Tour, which also takes place in Jozani Forest, the sanctuary of the Red Colobus Monkeys. Of particular interest is the mangrove swamp, where our guide showed us how the seeds fall off the mother tree and embed themselves in the mud.
Ecology is central to the Archipelago. We were given an eco-tour the first Wednesday after I arrived. This showed us much about the island and its delicate ecosystem.
This tour consisted of us visiting the seaweed plantation, going to a family’s home to see how coconut milk is made…by grating the innards of the fruit out… and paying a visit to Jambiani‘s much revered herbal doctor. These were useful chunks of knowledge tht we could gain an insight with.
Our guide told us that seaweed was the main cash crop on the Island and we were well-reminded of this every morning, when we would look out over the beach into the rising Indian Ocean sun and see handfuls of women and men toiling over their plots, trying to make a few pennies here and there.
They were the coolest people I’ve ever met. They were fun, smart, beautiful in the case of the women, and generally happy with their lot in life! What a place, where your heady dreams of fulfillment and paradise come to fruition!
- The People Of Zanzibar (archangeltravel.org)
- Zanzibar Dreaming (ireport.cnn.com)
- Zanzibar (archangeltravel.org)
- Don’t Buy Ivory (archangeltravel.org)
- A Coffee in Zanzibar (archangeltravel.org)
- %Artisan Silicone Mold, Zanzibar Elephant (artisansiliconemoldzanzibarelephantm3sale.wordpress.com)
- Tanzania Celebrated a Unity that is under Threat (johanneslanger.com)
- 7 days great Zanzibar offer, from only USD 1,140/- (geesafari.wordpress.com)
- 15 days Zanzibar guided tour and excursions-only from USD 2,075/- (geesafari.wordpress.com)
- Travel to Utah, Zanzibar and Sweden, where remote restaurants are the order of the day (metro.co.uk)