Transitioning to my new home in Zanzibar

On Thursday, March 29th my students, the watoto and the UAACC family through me a beautiful going away party. The students performed songs they wrote about how much they will miss me and how they enjoyed our time together. The watoto danced and sung. And the staff made be a beautiful cake and presented me with a kanga. Mama C even sung a little bit and she gave me a wonderful beaded Maasai medicine bag. I was a great afternoon event followed by a great night disco with the students, staff, watoto and other people from the community.

Dancing with Mama C and one of the students at my going away party.

My English class for the last two months.

I left on Saturday and spent most of Friday and Saturday washing clothes, packing and trying to say my good byes. On my flight to Zanzibar I got asked to sit in the cockpit in the jump seat because the person who was supposed to sit there was too heavy, I later found out that it was really because the flight was overbooked. No problem though because it was a short flight and it was cool to see inside the cockpit. There were also great views of Zanzibar as we were descending towards the island. I thought it was funny though that I got no background screening but was within arms reach of both of the pilots.

My first two days in Zanzibar have been good. Saturday evening a famous woman musician from Zanzibar came to the center. She is over 100 years old and likely close to 115 years old. Her name is Bi Kidude.

Aida rocking out with Bi Kidude

On Sunday, I had a nice breakfast of pancakes, an egg and vegetable scramble plus chapati. And then I spent most of the day on the beach (11 AM to 5 PM). It was low tide so we were able to walk out quite far. The beach was beautiful only about 30 people, which I heard was the most crowded that beach ever gets. The sun here is pretty intense and the heat is unbelievable especially after the nice temperate climate at the UAACC.

Looking hot in a one piece! With another volunteer and Aida's sister at the beach.

Wonderful day at the beach.

Monday was my first day of work at Creative Solutions. I started out by hand sanding the main gate, which was rusted and painting the fresh surface with a primer. I got to meet some of the students as we worked on this project together. I don’t think I came off as very charming though because I was dripping sweat working out in this Zanzibar heat. After that I learned how to use a treadle sewing machine. I am not very good at it, so the hanging shoe rack I was trying to make has been left undone. After lunch I was introduced to the preschool class of almost 20, 5-7 year olds, who I would be helping teach English.  In the evening I met the night English class for adults. There are about nine men and one woman. They seem very eager to improve their English. I look forward to spending a couple of evenings a week with them.

On Tuesday I started making cement blocks to use as stepping-stones throughout the center during the rainy season when everything is muddy. We are making stones by cutting and hammering together extra pieces of wood to make frames and then filling them with cement and adding decorative tiles, bottles and other things. I will take some pictures soon. I also had my first women’s exercise class on Tuesday. I am so thankful it is only women because then I am allowed to wear a tank top and shorts. I couldn’t imagine working out in anything else in this heat without passing out. The class is a lot of fun and combines yoga, kickboxing, ab work and dancing! The class meets twice a week and is a fun bonding experience with these women and also good for staying in shape.

The rest of the week I just continued with classes and with making cement stepping-stones. There is a lot of physical work to be done at the center, which I like and it all has an artistic twist. On Thursday I helped Aida tile mosaic a newly laid cement step for the new sewing building.

On Friday I went into Stone Town, which just happened to be the first day of the rainy season with a good hard rain. It was still fun and I wandered through the labyrinth of streets in Stone Town in the rain. I bought two moo moos that came with head wraps/shawls, now I can dress like the natives and not worry about feeling self-conscious or offending the locals. Last night I hung out in Forodhani Gardens with another volunteer. It is right on the water and has a lot of street vendors and tourists. Then we got a night tour of Stone Town from a local friend. He gave us the scoop about where to shop and get good prices. It can be difficult here sometimes because the high tourism rate causes people to over price a lot of items.

I am enjoying Zanzibar and settling in to the culture and customs here. It is very different from the mainland and many people still refer to it as its own country. I’m sure I will have lots to share in the coming two months.

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