There are trips that you take where you see, do and experience to an extraordinary degree - share in heart-to-heart conversation and want to extend the trip for many more days than you have - this was Zanzibar.
Fifteen miles off the coast of Tanzania, the archipelago sits in the Indian ocean and hosts plantations producing cloves, cinnamon and black pepper. It's main city, Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In short, it is a beautiful wonder.
Note: as I have a tendency to be overly verbose , I will write both a short version and long version of our time there if you'd like to have a read! ;)
The short version: Travelled with a group of those most soulful twenty year olds. My single room got upgraded to a suite , except there was a monkey on the roof and I hid in a mosquito net for 30 minutes until I saw it leave. (Please note, it had friends.) We had the most incredible weekend discovering the island with Mr. Alawai. Magical is not an understatement. Snorkled in the Indian Ocean in the bluest of waters and had some of the most enlightening conversations about life. Visited a plantation farm, ate cinnamon off the bark. Went to a monkey farm. Witnessed beautiful sunrises. Did not want to leave. And then I almost couldn't. Got yelled at by the ticketer (my boat had already left) and was told I would have to stay overnight. I had no physical money on me at this stage. Diane refused to leave my side. Jordan ran off their boat home to help us. Both vowing to not leave me alone. I cried. It was sweet and touching to an extraordinary degree (I had just met these people literally 48hrs beforehand). They eventually let us all back on the boat to travel safely back to Dar. Forever connected to those beautiful souls.
The long version: Without unexpected friendly connections that travel tosses our way when we need it most, I am nearly sure I wouldn't have been able to make the journey. Enter Karah, the most warm and undeniably kind human, who was part of a Work the World elective who literally cuddled me into embrace on our first meeting. She introduced me to the girls above and Jordan. What happened over the weekend was genuinely incomparable.
Mr. Alawi was our tour guide and led us through Stone Town, a boat ride to Prison Island where we fed giant tortoises (think foot-long shells) and an afternoon snorkel in the Indian Ocean. It was freeing and fun and near as close to perfect as one afternoon could be. What I loved the most was how inquisitive everyone was, our sweet Australian Jordan never stopped asking questions and as a result we learnt more about life outside of the tourist views and investments. On our last morning, Diane , Jordan and I happened to all (without prior planning) end up on the beach to witness the sunrise. It was two hours of conversation that only happens at that time of day- where there are no pretenses or hidden agendas. I remember thinking that I don't remember being as sweet, thoughtful and inquisitive at that age. I also remember having the incredible notion that, if and when I have children, that I hoped they travel. And a great deal at that.
The story above about the departure boat is dear to me. Diane never left my side. Jordan did heroically jump off to be with us. It is perhaps too easy to romanticise the trip to Zanzibar because in truth, it was one where unexpected connections led to an enormous amount of joyous discovery. And isn't that the whole point of this thing? To enjoy the ride? ;)
“Traveling is the great true love of my life... I am loyal and constant in my love of travel. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby - I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it's mine. Because it looks exactly like me.”