Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread

Swimming with dolphins in the sea?

Me?

Hmm that is one that I have to think about carefully. Everyone in my family  knows about my longstanding and deep seated fear of small boats or any boat for that matter and the sea.

Now they want me to go swimming in the sea with dolphins?

Eventually, I convinced myself that this is an experience I can not pass only because I am afraid. After all we have to face our fears to  conquer them.

So it came that on the last morning of our stay on Zanzibar, we went swimming with dolphins in Kizimkazi on the southern point of the island. We were told that the dolphins are found in the bay and that it will be the experience of a life time.

And  it was !

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On arrival at the small fishing village, those who were brave or foolish enough to attempt swimming with the dolphins were given a pair of flippers and snorkeling goggles. No instructions on the use nor any questions as to whether we new how to use the equipment, were asked.

We were unceremoniously bundled into a small boat and off we were!

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The sea was fairly rough and the skies overcast. I thought we would find the dolphins near to the coast, not so. About a half an hour away from the coast, surrounded by deep sea and quite high swells, we spotted them.

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“Flippers on! Right side jump!  Look down!” The guide shouted

Totally confused not one of us made it into the water the first time. We saw the dolphins though, swimming and playing in the water right next to he boat.

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Then they were gone and we were off, chasing after the school and found them again. This time it was:

“Flippers on! Left side jump! look down look down!

Some of us made it into he water but I was way too slow. Only on the third attempt did I make it into the water and then I was so scared I couldn’t look down. I was just concentrating on staying alive. The feeling of swimming in the deep sea with the dolphins, although I only saw them from the boat, was at the same time exhilarating and fearsome.

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The dolphins seemed to enjoy the company , they swam and jumped out of the water as if putting on a show for our benefit.   Their size and agility in the water was awesome to observe and the nearness an experience never to be forgotten

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After finding more than one school of dolphins and spending about one and a half hours on the water, we headed back to the shore.

Will I do it again? I doubt it.

After all fools rush in only once don’t they?

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Kilima Kidogo: Home From Home

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We were sitting around relaxing with our feet in the  fine white sand at the Restaurant Bar of Kilima Kidogo  Guest  House in Paje, when Mohammed  the chef came to ask us whether we would like  his catch of the day prepared whole in the oven, garnished with veggies for supper. He assured us it would be just enough for our family of six, which included our children from Dar es Salaam who were due to arrive to spend the weekend with us.

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Earlier that afternoon we were treated to a huge  home baked chocolate cake which we enjoyed with coffee and tea.

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Such is the hospitality at Kilima Kidogo Guest house in Pajè Zanzibar where we spent four days lazing in the sun, taking long relaxing walks on the beach and enjoying the hearty hospitality of Dina and her staff.

The house opens directly onto the fine white Zanzibar sand with breathtaking views past the swimming pool of the blue ocean shimmering in the sun. The restaurant and bar nestles underneath a palmfrond roof, the tables and chairs firmly imbedded in white sand.

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The beach seems to stretch endlessly, an improbable white, broken here and there by driftwood, a fisherman passing by on a bicycle or a dhow deep in the sea.

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At low tide the water recedes far away to form numerous shallow pools where the treasures of the ocean are revealed to those brave enough to walk as far as the coral ridge.

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The name Kilima Kidogo might mean Little Hill but the welcome of the people at  Kilima is anything but a  little hill, it rather resembles a  huge mountain of friendliness and hospitality.

Thank you Dina and staff  for creating a home from home for many people.

We will surely be back!

The Dancing Dhows and Dugouts of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar

The Indian Ocean is their ball room floor, the wind and the waves the music to which they have been dancing since as early as 600 BC. They are the numerous dugout canoes and dhows seen plying the waters of the ocean near Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

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Watching the dhows from the shore sailing slowly and elegantly past with lateen sails billowing in the wind, I could almost hear the sound of a slow beautiful waltz as they seemed to dance with the wind and the sea in perfect harmony.

On another day when the wind and the waves were stronger I imagined a fast tango with the wind hugging the sail tightly and the Dhow bending and dipping in harmony with the rhythm of the sea and the wind.

The smaller dhows rigged with outboard engines and used to ferry passengers and tourists to and from the surrounding islands and sandbanks, reminded me of teenagers dancing a fast jig, excited about life and all it still holds in store for them.

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Then there were the small dugout canoes which we saw lying forlornly and alone on the shore below the jetty at Slipway in Dar es Salaam. They were waiting with their nets drying in the sun like wall flowers sitting at the side of the ballroom floor. Waiting for a new day to dawn, heralding a fishing trip at sea where they could dance their unique slow dance in tune with waves, the wind and the fisherman.

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nets fishing

Dug out canoes are usually made out of one tree such as a mango tree and are  mostly used to fish in shallow sheltered waters by a single fisherman.

Dhow is the name for a number of sailing vessels using one or more lateen sails. Dhows usually have long thin hulls and are mainly used as trading vessels, carrying heavier merchandise such as fruit and fresh water along the East African coast. The local trading dhows use an outboard engine mainly for maneuvring, while the main means of propulsion still is the sail. Fishing boats also use their engine when actually engaged in fishing with nets.

These canoes as well as traditional dhows are still manufactured in the Nungwi region of Zanzibar and north of Stone Town at the edge of a mangrove rimmed inlet.

I salute these age old seagoing vessels and their crew. May this tradition live long as it adds a certain romance and magic to a visit to these regions.

The Rocky Birthday Present that Rocked!

Its a Rock,

It rocks,

It is breathtakingly beautiful

It is  The Rock Restaurant.

Perched on a lonely outcrop of  coral reef, surrounded by turqouise blue sea and white sands,  it presents an almost surreal picture at first glance.

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First glimpse of The Rock through the trees

This is the Rock Restaurant on the Paje stretch of the Zanzibar coast, where our children took us for lunch to celebrate two sixtieth birthdays and all the other birthdays in our group thrown in for good measure too.

We reached the beach travelling down a winding path lined with palm trees past small village homes with children playing outside.

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The approaching road

The tide was in and we were ferried to the foot of the restaurant stairs  by a  local  boatsman navigating a small boat with a stick, where a young colourfully clad Masaai waited us in.

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The boatsman pushing the boat into the surf

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View from the boat

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Masaai waiting us in

Once on top of the stairs and in the restaurant, it felt as if we were on a ship somewhere far away from land. Guests were sitting at the tables having lunch in a relaxed atmosphere, while others enjoyed the view from the outside seating area.

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Outside seating area

We spent a magical few hours here having lunch of mainly freshly caught seafood.

Then came the difficult part.

While we were having lunch, the tide came in and the wind started blowing, covering the stairs halfway up to the restaurant in water.

The waiting boat was being pushed to and fro, now being next to the stairs and the next moment pushed away by the tide. One by one the friendly boatsman directed us with words such as ” wait wait and pole pole, then now”  into the boat.

With lots of encouragement and laughter all made it safely into the boat and to the shore.

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Stairs under water

The afternoon was an unforgettable experience and a birthday present which will be etched in my memory forever!

The L List Living: S – Equals Serengeti Before Sixty

In August 2012 I wrote a post titled The L list.  http://wp.me/p2BDQm-8y 17/08/2012

The L List is my living, laughing, loving list, a personalized version of a bucket list.

One of the to do things on my living list was to visit the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Conservation Areas in Tanzania.

About a year ago, I was asked the question :“What would you like to do before you turn sixty next year?”  

My answer was : ” To visit the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Conservation Area.”

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That was the day we started saving to enable us to take this trip. Now about 12 months later  the trip is on the verge of happening.

Flight tickets and accommodation are booked, passports checked, visas obtained an the all important yellow card updated.

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We first fly to  Dar Es Salaam for a short visit with the children, then on to Arusha,the Serengeti and Ngorogoro, then back to Dar Es Salaam and to end the trip we will spend  five days on Zanzibar .

So for the next few weeks we will be travelling and  my blog voice will be quiet. However  look out when I come back as I will be filled with new experiences, have  lots of pictures and I am sure many stories to tell.