Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Prepare to swim"

post swimming with dolphins--so happy!

So we got to the airport and since it was a small flight and they don’t allow as much weight per passenger we had to pay about $70 for our bags. The flight was short and easy and the water looked beautiful from the air. Someone from the hotel picked us up from the airport so we had a pretty easy transition from the airport to the east side of the island. It was immediately apparent the shift in the religion of choice for the locals. Tanzania is more than 90% Christian while Zanzibar is about 96% Muslim. So most of the people we saw on the way to the hotel was either wearing the full cover or just covering their head. Once we got into our hotel and to our room we were floored. Our room was awesome, and more than I was expecting honestly. I feel that with those sort of things you never really know what you are getting. Neither one of us was expecting what we saw on the beach either. It was a short walk from the hotel to the beach and it was like a postcard. I had literally never seen such a beautiful beach before in my life. It was just like the pictures described, clear blue water and the fishing boats just anchored all over the ocean. We immediately put our stuff down and started taking pictures. It was incredible! Our hotel was all open air and had a restaurant and was named the best bar in Zanzibar. It also worked out perfectly that they have a party every Friday night and we were there on a Friday. We ate in the restaurant and hung out in the bar for the rest of the night. We met some people from Norway who had also just gotten in that day and I always wonder why people are there and what they do so I am always interested to talk to people and see what they are doing in their lives to be there as well. We were extremely tired from the long day, though we did manage to stay up until like 2am. The party was still going on at that point and the music was so loud that it was vibrating our walls when we went to bed. Thankfully, shortly after 230 the power went out and the party fizzled out so it wasn’t loud for too long.

The following day and actually our whole time there we pretty much just relaxed and laid out on the beach and got some sun. We got up one morning and watched the sun rise, and that was really beautiful because it was right over the ocean. We did a mini photoshoot on the beach our last night there which pretty much looked like a honeymoon album because it was all just pictures of one of us. It was fun though. We met a couple that was there from San Francisco who are teachers and we enjoyed talking to them and sharing stories. The following morning we decided to get up and go to swim with dolphins with the couple. My only knowledge of ever going to swim with dolphins was at Sea World and involved shallow water and just petting dolphins. i never did that but I was just aware of it. We left at 6am and drove to another place on the island and when we got out I realized that we certainly were not going to be standing in water with dolphins. We got a snorkel and flippers and a mask and got in a small dhow that I’m surprised even had a motor and we started out. We had also brought our cameras and wallets and didn’t realize that we would not be able to set anything on the bottom of the boat because it was wet/filling with water that the driver was using a bucket to remove. I won’t even pretend that I wasn’t incredibly scared and I definitely voiced my fears to Rachel, who was not interested in hearing them. I will say though that it helps me to voice my concerns and work through them. That being said I was thinking the whole time while we were driving away from land that I could still swim to land if I needed to (like the boat sinking). We got pretty far out and there was a group of about 4-6 boats that were all looking for dolphins and we spotted them and the driver of the boat says, “prepare to swim.” I don’t know what he was thinking but that’s the last thing I was preparing to do. I still had my bathing suit cover up on and I certainly was not ready to be jumping into the ocean. Apparently the way it works is all these boats look for the dolphins to come up and then all drive over to where they are and everyone in the boat jumps out and “swims with the dolphins” as they are just going about their business. The couple that we were with were scared as well so at least no one in the boat was really “prepared” for this. Rachel decides that she is going to jump in with them first and I held onto her bag that had our stuff in it. She said it was fun but decided not to use her flippers after that because they inhibited her. I was incredibly scared but decided that I was not going to have come all the way to Africa and come all the way out onto this boat to just sit in there and not go ‘swim with the dolphins’. So the next time I saw them on the side of the boat I jumped in with no flippers and not even using my snorkel. I only saw 3 or 4 of them under the water because they were already moving ahead but it was still very cool. I got back in the boat and the driver asked if anyone else was going to get in the water because if not then we were going to go back. The woman of the couple said that she wanted to get in so we kept following them. I decided to get in with her that time as well and when I looked under water there were probably 15 dolphins just swimming under me and I can safely say that is by far one of the coolest experiences of my life. I had never really seen a dolphin up close before and even though that was probably 15 feet away I could still see them clearly and just swimming in the wild. It was incredible. I was so glad that we went and that both of us got in the water and got the most out of the experience. It was really scary but as some people know about me, I am all about facing my fears and doing things that I didn’t think I would so I was beyond pleased. After that we did decide to go ahead back to shore and then back to the hotel. We were checking out that day to head to Stonetown on the other side of the island.

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