Kheri ya mwaka mpya! A very happy new year to all my readers, may 2016 bring peace and purpose. And continued readership, of course.
It is almost exactly 3 years since I first went to Zanzibar, again for a brief break between Christmas and New Year when I didn't return to the UK - see this blog post. It continues to be a thing of wonder to me that, at minimal cost, I can take a holiday which for which many westerners would be paying thousands of pounds.
So, following the Christmas period spent celebrating at the Cathedral and with friends here in my apartment, I set out just for a few days' break to Zanzibar. Delighted to be able to call upon the services of Yussuf, to describe him as a taxi driver massively under-estimates what he does in terms of arranging things, so at a busy time of year he was able to find me a room at the Azao Resort Hotel near Pongwe on the east coast.
Room was just fabulous, here is the view from the arm chair immediately outside my room at high tide:
I just loved the sound of the surf all night, very soporific. Here is pretty much the same angle at low tide, with the change between the two happening very quickly:
I don't know how obvious it is from this picture the extent to which one probably wouldn't be wanting to sit out on the beach, it's quite rocky and also the sand is pretty much the consistency of clay. Credit where credit is due, the hotel does not market itself as a 'beach resort' which must be a strong temptation, hopefully this way people who arrive are delighted with the view, to come expecting a beach could be quite a disappointment. The following two pictures make the same point from a different part of the hotel grounds:
Two main things I did whilst there: walked to Pongwe there by road and back along the beach, rather liked this picture on the way there:
In Pongwe itself was rather amazed to discover a hotel-come-restaurant on the beach on a rock which is where I had a cup of coffee, at high tide they need boats to get in:
The other thing I did, at Yussuf's suggestion, was to go on a 'safari blue', ie. a boat ride off the coast to see various sights. This is the boat which took us:
And here is a picture of a dolphin which we saw:
Well, OK, strictly speaking I can only agree that there is no dolphin actually in this picture, but you have my solemn word that there was a dolphin in this patch of sea only a second - maximum 2 - before I took this picture. I have previously had reason to lament that animals don't seem to understand their responsibility to pose majestically when being photographed, don't think I have an alternative career as a wildlife photographer set up.
Snorkelling equipment was provided as part of the trip, once I got used to do it found that I could use it to float just below the surface of the water for long periods of time observing a wide variety of highly colourful fish, what they made of the white blob above them with a bright green stripe in the middle I have no idea. But did confirm me in thinking that, on my return to the UK, having a tropical fish tank, specifically with fish from the East African coast, would be a fun thing to do.
Lunch looked like this:
Particularly, please note the lobster tail at the back of the picture - which was delicious, but how to access it with only a standard knife and fork, and my fingers of course? What would an etiquette book say on this matter? Or, to ask the question in a different way, how would Her Majesty the Queen eat such a meal? Or would she send it back for the chef to extract the meat? We can only ponder. It had occurred to me to wonder whether the energy expended in getting to the meat is greater than that gained by eating it, any thoughts on this point gratefully received....
This was the entertainment over lunch:
and here was a peculiarity on the little island we were on, a tree which was blown right over but nevertheless continued to grow, life really is a very wonderful thing:
So, back to work next week, glad to be able to have a bit of a break before things get going again. And, as I said at the beginning, so amazing to be able to go to one of the premier tourist resorts in the world just by hopping onto a ferry - and even then paying local prices.
One last thing before I go. Coming to the beginning of the year means beginning to read the Bible again, with the scheme I use meaning that I start at Genesis 1, Psalm 1, Proverbs 1 and Matthew 1. Particularly, Psalm 1 conjures up for me a most beautiful setting which can be heard on this YouTube video - alas the quality is low but hopefully you can make out what is going on. If not, let me know and I'll make it my mission to make a recording myself in due course. to my knowledge, this setting was first published in "Psalm Praise" a collection of psalms, some using Anglican chants, some hymn like settings, including a setting of Psalm 150 to the tune 'Jerusalem' and Psalm 46 to the theme tune of the Damnbusters film. Possibly because it was current as I started to get involved in church music, initially as a choir boy, later as a pianist and organist, Psalm Praise has a very special place in my memory, albeit that it long ago became obsolete. So, a 2016 resolution: get hold of a copy, see what else there is that it contains and look once again to put them into the public domain, possibly as solo items now. Watch this space! Meanwhile, thank you for reading, I'll be back soon.