Wow! How time flies. I've now been traveling for about seven weeks, and my family has come and gone. Well, actually, my parents left but my bro is still in the continent, just different country. He decided to head off quickly to Zambia to see the solar eclipse, while I decided I couldn't be bothered and wanted more time in paradise; i.e., Zanzibar.
What can I say - the island is awesome. It's known for its spices, and you can go on daily spice tours which I didn't end up doing. Stone Town, the main town, is full of life and color. It's much more diverse on Zanzibar, with more Asian influence, especially Indian, and lots of Muslims too. It has an island feel; more laid back, more happy go lucky, etc.
The Muslim influence is strong so I definitely felt the need to cover my body more, and also felt I got much more attention than in the past, especially from the opposite sex. It wasn't harassment, but it got a bit annoying after a while. Luckily I met up with some cool people and then it wasn't a problem any more.
But since I'm really tired and this email is not too coherent, I will just tell a few more highlights and then head off to beddy-bye. White sand beaches, coconuts and palm trees, women in colorful cloths, from head to toe, crystal blue waters, fishermen riding their bikes on the white sand, little kids playing with me in a small village with a view of the Indian ocean, fresh tropical fruit everyday, passion fruit juice, beautiful people, henna tattoos, bungalows made of palm leaves and so many more experiences.
The biggest thing to tell is that I got my PADI certification, so I can now dive in open water. It was a great experience. My teacher, Xavier, is from Barcelona and the other student in my class, Ricardo, is from Portugal but living in Sudan. We became "buddies" because when you dive you always need a buddy. It worked out great since I didn't have anyone to hang out with after my family left, and he was alone as well. So we walked the night market together after class, and learned how to share air underwater and take off our masks underwater, and do other fun moves like that. The learning part was okay, but the actual diving was excellent. Lots of colorful coral and huge schools of fish. We saw some sting rays, and the other day when I went on my first dives after being certified, we saw dolphins from the boat. What a trip!
I met some nice people in Stone Town, one of whom was on my dive boat, and I headed over to the other side of the island with him and some other Finnish girls. We all had a great time hanging out doing nothing. The view alone was amazing and the water was so warm to swim in. We stayed in these funky bungalows made of palm leaves, all with a beach view. I went to sleep to the sound of bushbabies. Since the place was small, we were continually laughing about a young British couple, who were quite involved with each other and it was very obvious when they were in action...I think they needed something a bit more private in terms of hotels, but what can you do :-)
I don't want to leave, but I must go meet my brother in Malawi. Malawi is supposed to be wonderful - friendly people, super cheap, a nice lake where you can swim, dive, canoe, kayak, and many other things too. I'm looking forward to it, just not the 24 hour plus bus ride I start tomorrow at 6 AM. I was lucky and when I arrived to a full hotel where the cheapest room they had available was $20, a nice British guy offered his floor to me and it was only for three dollars. So, that's my bed for the night, don't worry, I have a Thermarest, and then I'm off tomorrow morn.
I hope you're all well and that you all make it over to Zanzibar some time. Definitely worth the trip. My words don't do the place justice.