Getting wet

I wait for the rain to stop. No one is moving about Stone Town’s streets below. It hadn’t quite finished drizzling, but I couldn’t take the sitting indoors any longer, and depart.

The Pemba ferry for the next day is already fully booked, so I have to buy a ticket for the day after. It was prophetic that I wrote ‘3 days’ as my length of stay on the arrivals form. I warm to Zanzibar again. Or perhaps its that I’d left the tourist hub around the old fort and curio stalls and am left alone. Very quickly I’m out of the tourist zone and into local Stone Town. Some of the shops are closed for the May Day holiday, for the rest the mundane life of selling soap goes on. Its peaceful, rather serene.

The dalla-dalla ‘shared transport solutions’ are different here on Zanzibar to the mainland. They’re small pickups with vaguely padded seats, open sides with awnings for when it rains, and a roof so low you’re bent double getting to a seat. The inside of mine is decorated with that plastic stuff used by cheap cafes as table covering, in a lovely pink. I realise how content I am sitting facing the apprentice watching the road disappear behind us and humming ‘hakuna matata’ from The Lion King.

The 9am ferry service to Pemba island, coming from Dar, doesn’t leave Zanzibar until 10am. It hadn’t arrived into view until 9.22. Fighting my way aboard as it pours with rain I find its mostly full from Dar boardings. The date seller gets a seat for me amongst a group of colourfully veiled women and their children.

Its a long, dull journey with occasional dips into the swell that make me sweat and the grandmother next to me vomit quietly into a sickbag.

I walk along the main road, past the port and up and down hills, to what I guess is Mkaoni, the most southernly of Pemba’s 3 towns. Its a cluster of shops, fairly squalid and rundown houses behind, a couple of small undecorated mosques noticeable from the collection of different sized shoes by the entrances. Most of the traffic is dalla-dallas, a couple of 4x4s, some donkeys and cattle.
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