I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What's your favourite dish?


The destination was as relaxing as the travel had been (deliberately) punishing. That first hour or so notwithstanding, I went offline for the whole time and settled down into a pattern of pretty much nothing but recreational sleeping, reading, and drinking. I stayed on the resort grounds, no day tours to Stone Town or anywhere else; this was an escape.

The accommodation was pretty swanky. A four-poster bed (with mosquito netting), an enormous bathroom with an enormous bath and two showers, one being outdoors(!), and an outside area with a couple of seats and a table. Housekeeping came round 4 times a day, which is a bit bloody much, especially the 9pm call (and it didn't help that the "Do Not Disturb" thing kept getting blown off the door handle outside). I'd been told at checkin that the mini-bar was free for first use, but if I ever needed it refilled it would be charged. Free mini-bar, you say? Such a shame that this consisted merely of water, fanta, diet coke, and soda water.

Also a big screen TV, on which I watched England beat Sweden 3-2. I did think about going to the bar, but really I was just way too tired to move. Been a long time since I saw England lose a lead or otherwise go behind and not let their heads drop, longer still since they successfully came back to win. Was chuffed with that. And then I slept more. A lot more. Woke up about 11 hours later, which meant I was too late for breakfast. Never mind.

I wandered around the resort grounds for a bit, took a couple of photos, and settled on which shaded longer on which to spend the next 3 hours reading. Then I went back to the room, got changed, and headed out to the jetty bar over the ocean. It felt a little, but not massively, Blood Diamond, being the white guy sitting at a bar by the water in Africa. Went for the Tanzanian beer "Serengeti lager", which I honestly did not expect to be much cop, only to discover that it's almost as nice as Brooklyn Lager, which is my favourite lager in the world. Holy smokes. Three drinks there, then headed back onto land to watch the evening's game in the Library Bar (via a very swift meal at the buffet). Was amused to see a huge England flag hanging up, and a printout of the whole Euro 2012 match schedule on each table. 

As an aside: Zanzibar is mad for football: on the drive to the resort we'd passed probably 7 or 8 impromptu games of football being played, and two club houses. I'd seen Arsenal and other shirts being worn, and one van which had nearly half its windscreen covered in a Chelsea sticker.

Anyway, that was the pattern for each of the 3 full days I was there: sleep, breakfast, lounging + reading, sleeping, drinks on stilts, more drinks with the footy. There were some experiences unique to the days, I guess: on that first trip to the bar I got chatting to the board of directors of a Tanzanian ISP who were there for a strategy meeting, which mostly seemed to involve getting wankered and putting on South London accents while referring to me as GEEZAH and GANGSTA. I turned down their invite to some mad party on the other side of the island (so, 40-odd miles away), what with already being 6 drinks down and there to relax. And also being moderately terrified of the prospect.

On the last full day I thought about doing some exercise. I'd taken my running/gym kit, and scouted the gym facilities, but honestly could not be bothered with it. Instead I improvised a circuit of abs exercises and steps/knee raises/lunges using the perfect-height stone shelf in my room. Oh, and held a plank for 60 seconds, which I thought was pretty good. I actually worked up a properly decent sweat, and the next day my calf muscles told me I might even have overdone it a bit. #projectrollins never stops, eh.

Service was kinda weird. I found most of the bar and waiting staff to be uncomfortably deferential, either unable or unwilling to engage in conversation even when I was the only person sitting at a bar with 5 staff. The friendliest and most outgoing member of staff was the cleaner with a gorgeous smile who unprompted decided to teach me the kiswahili for "you're welcome", "thank you" and "bye bye". They say "you're welcome" a lot.

I got through the Mick Foley book ("Foley Is Good"), Shawn Michaels's autobiography "Heartbreak and Triumph", and Mark Kermode's "It's Only A Film", each in single sittings. Never realised HBK was such a god-botherer; should have read Foley's first book first, especially as so many chapters were stories about "how I wrote the first book"; Kermode's book is bloody awesome.

On the last day I asked at breakfast what time my car to the airport was. They said I had to checkout at midday, but my car would be at 1pm. Since none of the bars accept money, this was going to leave me with an hour of just sitting around in reception. Unimpressed. Anyway, since I was about to embark upon another 29hr 3000-mile 5-flights trip, I took the opportunity to watch a couple of episodes of Air Crash Investigation. I was tickled pink that the first one was about a hijacking of an Ethiopian Airlines flight, ha!

In the end they shoved me in a car straight away. The drive back to the airport was mostly uneventful apart from all the cows, and getting spat at by some kids. Ho hum.

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