We arrived in Zanzibar. The MAISHA Program Director and our van driver welcomed us. The director explained few things about what to expect and the schedule ahead of us, and off we went in the small van. He drove on narrow streets with low story buildings on both sides. It was like driving in any village in an Arab country. Except for the much greener, denser and higher trees.
But soon we started leaving the residential areas and arrived to a more vegetated territory, until the van stopped in a heavenly resort. It was like the places we see in honeymoon package advertisements. But it was real. And calm. The first thought that came to my mind when we arrived was this is a dream location for writing.
We had been warned before our departure from Doha that we needed to get anti-Malaria injections and a mosquito repellant. The pharmacist at Villaggio had then given Fatma a mosquito repellant for children because that was the only repellant he had, so we brought it along. We also knew to expect geckos. I am not the type of people who can pretend to be comfortable if I know I am living with a gecko. But we had promised ourselves, each other, and Ama to be brave.
Each one of us was assigned a bungalow. The bungalow consisted of a bedroom and a bathroom. They were nice and cool on the inside. The beds were beautifully decorated with nets dangling down from the roof to protect the sleepers from insects. Though that is a good thing, reverse psychology used it to assure me that there are insects. When I unloaded my luggage, I thought better than to disperse it in various places in the room so I only took out the shoes and kept all the clothes in my suitcase and kept it locked.
After every one of us checked her bungalow, the three of us girls decided that we’ll use one of them as a bedroom. Each one of us didn’t want to sleep alone in there. My daydreams included lions and giraffes. But the reality was different. It included, but was not limited to, insects in the bathroom, two scorpions in the room, few geckos that we got accustomed to live with slowly, and flying roaches.
As we were intent on keeping the courageous impression, we fought bravely against all these creatures on our own. Okay, it was not me or Fatma who did the actual battle, we were on the bed or jumping around far from the action, but still. And one time we had to ask the help of Qassim, our friend who lived very close to Mount Kili, who had also come to the workshop with a very compelling story. But we fought and survived! Until the day of the red scorpion.
The red scorpion could be deadly according to Ama. And if our African fighter said that, then we had to report the incident to the program director. Our huge surprise came when we learnt that all the bungalows are clean of all kinds of insects, and we’re the only ones who had a zoo in there. And the solution was very simple, Solayman, the keeper of the resort came and sprayed it again. You can imagine how stupid we felt after all that struggle to save face when we could’ve simply asked for the room to be sprayed. Truth is, we had tried using the RAID in the room and our mosquito repellant, but the insects seemed to enjoy them more than anything.
Afterwards (5 days later) it became normal to enter the bathroom with a gecko in there, to put sugar with ants in the tea, to share the food with the crows out by the Indian Ocean. We were living it, the African way. And it is an experience not to be missed.
To Be Continued!
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