So I have arrived in Zanzibar, and I’ll try to describe it here, but I am not sure how much I can avoid writing in a public/private diary-like self-conscious way, like some graffiti I would have written on the high school bathroom wall and then tried to erase. Off to a good start. But I think this is at least a worthwhile try, since while being in Gulu was a really internal and hardly accessible from any point of view other than mine, this one is already more public.
But Uganda–I remember being in Katanga with some people and others, and upon asking one about Zanzibar before I knew whether I would be coming here, he replied, saying, “oh, Zanzibar, it’s just tourists,” like, what’s the point? I can confirm at least that it’s not “just tourists” although there are many of them (though that can’t always be so condemning, right?), and that there is a point and a lot of things side by side, like the mosque, roasted cashews, snorkeling, German speakers, streets wanting me to get lost. Living with a host family makes it different too–I feel maybe more superficially integrated, since in Uganda I had to try maybe way harder to do anything.
But that, host family life, is really one of the best things so far, involving hot morning tea with cinnamon and ginger and Naifa who laughs at everything, like putting my pillow on her head, and has fake phone calls with me. I want her to be president.
The short walk home is sinuous streets and equatorial cool air, dust and light in the shade of a blooming mosque. I want to describe people as lower case ‘e’ equatorial too, to indiate the way someone might act and appear under better lighting. I want to think I look a little better and healthier in this setting even if that is untrue–and thinking that might be the result of giving Naifa my mirror.
Now would be a good time to find out if I’m a land/sky/water person since there is a lot of water here. Part of me thinks, “where is the dryness and depth of “something” from Uganda,” but over the past few months I’ve accomodated myself to swimming, and swimming only with my upper body, and breathing while swimming, which I thought would never happen but definitely feels more relaxing than anything I ever did on land. So I found a pool to swim in for a reasonable price–the pool itself is brimming with water and overlooking the ocean–and it’s so blue that somehow when I arrived there I had the same precipice-like fear that I associated with traveling north in Uganda–like what is this literal precipice and how cavernous is the thing it drops into? But I feel somewhat that a key component of any kind of travel is weaving those precipice-like things into a view of everything–and these precipice-like things somehow seem less intimidating than staying at home.
Still, in Uganda, I remember all the Italians wanting to vacation here, and I do want them to just show up so I can seam some of these choppy sea-like memories together, finally.