Running away to Zanzibar was definitely a wonderful idea that maybe was lacking a bit in the application.
Unfortunately it did require two aeroplane flights, and then a drive from the airport at Zanzibar to our lodge.
Sounds quite idyllic …. lest one is mortally afraid of large metal man-made structures in the sky that can plummet to the ground at any time, and it would seem sometimes without warning.
Landing had us experiencing serious cross winds, it was bumpy and shaky. (Have I mentioned how terrified I am of flying?)
I had begun to harbour serious doubts that the pilot may have obtained his licence via correspondence. I know I cannot fly a plane, but something about landing when your nose is facing directly into the tarmac, surely spells a problem.
Once we finally rammed our large plane into the tarmac with so much force that it loosened your fillings - and in my case made me bury my nails into Kennith’s leg.
The brakes were then applied which sent us screeching forward on what can only be described as a very SHORT runway. We finally stopped. I know I said something quite eloquent like “Thank FEK!” and I meant every word of it.
You know it has been a bit touch and go, when the passengers applaud after the plane comes to a standstill!
I can’t say we embarked as much as we fell out of the aeroplane – and then threw ourselves to the ground to give thanks for the safe ejection from the plane of death.
Unfortunately at this point I realised a few things (1) Zanzibar International Airport was a bit of an over-exaggeration for both the International and the Airport part (2) Luggage off the plane and to you, was really an optional and not guaranteed (3) The terminal is more of a fancied up shed than a terminal.
It was all a bit haphazard and chaotic and you sort of just fell into a line, and watched them pull a cart from the plane with what appeared to be your baggage. There was baggage, whether yours was on the cart was sort of where you started to rethink your wardrobe and how long you could actually wear the same pair of underwear for.
Once I absorbed the status quo, we found ourselves a queue – always the slowest moving one, and managed to spend the next 30 – 45 minutes standing up close and personal with a few dozen other sweaty people.
We finally got to the front, paid our $50.00 per person, which was slid into the custom official’s pocket. We sort of looked quizzically at each other and thought, well we are hardly going to stand there and argue with him, so we smiled and thanked him profusely for letting us into his country.
My bag arrived – hallelujah – trust me, this is not the norm for when I travel, so I am in my full rights to celebrate a little.
We made it out of the airport through the throngs of guides/pick up people who were waving boards.
Found a friendly gentleman waving a board with our name on it – I have not done anything for this trip, so the fact that Kennith had organised that we were collected from the airport made me really sigh with relief (the other option is to arrive and just sort out your own transport.)
Then a very helpful dame came along and handed us a facecloth – clean, wet and soaked in jasmine. Heaven!
I may have stepped over the (imagined) boundary of proprietary when I finished wiping my face and hands, and thought, what the hey, I will just freshen up my armpits a bit! I noticed a little frown cross her polite face, but I was on holiday, it was a facecloth and I was really sweaty!!
We found our taxi driver – I liked the look of him, the taxi was clean … but my joy was short lived.
We then proceeded to take the drive-from-hell from the airport to our resort which was about an hour or so.
He had no qualms about overtaking and driving directly into on-coming traffic – it was not like this was something he did now and then, it was more where his vehicle appeared to stay for the bulk of the journey.
It was a very narrow two way road, without any emergency lanes to move into if there was a problem.
The only option, should something go very wrong, was to just veer directly into the population which appeared to like nothing more than to stand on the shoulder of the road and watch the traffic go by.
Clearly the custom is that if you hit your hooter in rapid succession – and do it with a cheery smile on your mug – this clearly absolved you from responsibility and from impending death. It was totally chaotic and your brain kept telling your body to prepare for a rather gruesome death in East Africa.
Long road with bicycles, vespa scooters (always with more than one person on it), trucks packed, like totally packed with people, and people hanging out the side, goats on the side of the road, large cow type things that seemed to wander about without any limitations or restraint.
And there we are hurtling down the road.
While we are overtaking a large truck, another car will be trying to overtake us – all this into on-coming traffic.
Kennith kept suggesting I not look, and read instead. I can say without a doubt, that during the flight I had already started to prepare my goodbyes and hope that my children knew I loved them and how sad it would be for them to get a call from OneTime Airlines to say that they were very sorry, but pa and ma will not be home.
But the problem with this taxi was that when they scraped me off this dirt road, would anyone actually know where or who I was or be able to do some sort of a CSI analysis on me as they scraped my lady bits off a donkey?
As things do happen, one does not always die in the head on taxi car collision as one imagined and we made it to the resort.
We then proceeded to head with shaky legs to the nearest bar, order a pizza, a large bottle of beer and congratulate ourselves on surviving to see another day.
So here we are in Zanzibar ….