Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Paje Paradise

"Happiness is peeing in a warm ocean."
-Lo Bao Loa

"The windmill is the way."

The powder white sand beach was subject to the noonday tides, and the surf lay a few kilometers back.  

I walked on the wet white sand that felt like warm plaster clay beneath my feet.

Ribbed rivers in banks of white clay and veined crystal pools of the upcaught surf shimmered in the midday winds.

I walked into the warm crystal pools.  The azure water was the temperature of lukewarm peppermint tea, the kind that you sip just a little longer before you put up a new pot for the boil.

I walked slowly through the warm crystal pools, the clear waters not coming above my knees.

Zanzibar paradise. Paje Nirvana.

Life's for the living.

I decided to make better provisions, and had a scare where my i-pod fell in the drink (miraculously it seems to still work), so I headed back to my thatched bungalow and got on my swim trunks.

Everyone here thinks I am Egyptian or from Palestine. While I look like a Levantine, I burn like an Ashkenazi Jew. I cooked myself into a kosher lobster yesterday while snorkeling off prison island.

But I had a grand time doing it, swimming amid the circus of colorful fish in the coral. Schools of blue fish swimming by striped clown fish amid the cylinders of coral. I had my own private boat with Sabri, who let me drive the ship named “Jambo.”

But I digress.

Anyway in white shorts and shirt I looked like a baptist into the Sea of Galilee as I slowly waded into the warm blue azure. I walked slowly, slowly through the waters that very slowly climbed my knees to my waist to my chest until I was kilometers out in the warm seas. I took my time coming back, floating on the gentle waves and playing with smooth shells.

I found an old coke bottle in the sea—Neptune must be crazy...and let the winds whistle through its glass cell.

When I hear the wind whistle in glass bottles, I always think back to my 9th grade music class, and the teacher John Howard who had us listen to Herbie Hancock playing bottles as we did the same. I can see myself on the beaches of Agadir in Morocco the first time I heard the surf's winds play through my bottle.

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
-Isaac Newton

And of course I had an adventure getting here.  I checked out of the Haven Guesthouse, leaving behind my daypack and just taking my backpack and camera bag.  I asked the owner of the guesthouse how far to Paje.  30-45 minutes, not too far.

I made my way to the Dalla-Dalla stand--dalla-dallas are outrigged pickup trucks that hold 12-15 people in the payload in metal or wood frames.  I found the one for Jubaini, which would leave me near the Paje Beach at the intersection.  I climbed into the back truckbed and expected a wait. 

A German couple came over, and got indignant that the dalla-dallas were trying to rip them off.  If we were in Germany, you wouldn't be charged more.  Yes, but you are a long way from Germany.  I just kept my mouth shut as I ascertained what the actual price should be.  2,000 Tanzanian shilling, a buck.

We meandered out of town, slowly stopping to pick up more passengers.  We crawled to a long stop as we loaded goods and wood on the top of the dalla-dalla frame. We sat around for an hour as the dalla-dalla filled up with goods and people.   I had just enough room to consider myself fortunate after bouts as a sardine in the Philippines, India and El Salvador (Chicken buses!).

We opened up onto the country roads, and I stuck my head out the window as I listened to sing-song Swahili chatted about.

We drove through the back roads of the isla, until we got to the Paje junction.  2.5 hours later, as I actually expected not the 40 minutes it could have been.  I wandered along the side of the road until I found Teddy's Place (The Original) and got a thatched bungalow for the vacay.

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