Destinations, Musings, Photography, Zanzibar

Sandy Beaches Sell Postcards and Plane Tickets

November 6, 2012

We haggle over an hour long bus ride, will it be five thousand shillings or three?

We dicker, we hand over crinkled bills, we ride.

On a daladala, normal shifts.

Boxes and bags and bodies cram together in a metal shell unfit for road use by any and all US standards. Smells of sweat and burning oil mingle. Window glass balanced in rubber seals rattles as we ride, framing views of an island changing shape before our eyes.

“Computer training center” one sign says, before we pass another mud brick house with leaky thatch roof.

Bikes and cattle share the pavement. Coconut palms and banana trees lean away from us and toward the afternoon sun.

Between shores, the heart of the island beats.

Generations long since used to alien visitors seeking spice and spice of life watch another load of tourist overtake a load of produce. Dollars and cents.

Crossing from one coast to another, I wonder.

Who pays for paradise?

Whose normal is this, anyway?

One thing is true.

Sandy beaches sell postcards and plane tickets.

Photos from our time at White Beach Hotel, a 53 kilometer daladala ride from Stone Town.

Coconut palms and seaweed harvest.

Soccer and lizards and sandcrabs.

Puppies and people and stories and questions and walks on the beach in silence.

How often is beauty simple?

How telling is the ache that calls the world into question?

I’ll leave you with a favorite glimpse of Zanzibar: “how we spent the rest of the evening” from the wonderfully talented South African photographer, Andrew Brauteseth a.k.a. Guy With Camera. It was a privilege to hear him speak and inspire when I was in Cape Town earlier this year…

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  • Reply Lindsay November 7, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    omg! puppies!! and that little boy! Too much cute!

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians November 10, 2012 at 3:51 am

      Total charmers : ) Sahim was the son of the fellow who ran our guest house. He was this cute every single day. And the puppies belonged to the guest house, too. Pretty much heaven by some standards ; )

  • Reply Charu November 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I love these photos because they’re so real, they’re not artifice or commercial. Yes, plenty of Africa shorelines are this beautiful but they need tourism revenues to help their GDP. I’m glad sandy beaches sell postcards and inspire people to visit…those puppies are beautiful!

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians November 10, 2012 at 3:56 am

      Thank you, Charu! I believe it’s important to see and share the world as it really is; it’s so easy to create false senses of place on the internet, isn’t it? It was really special to spend time out on this side of the island. Yes, it looked just like the screensavers and postcards I’d seen at home, but it also had a new dimension: the people we met and spent time with, and the stories of their lives that they shared with us. If we can invest our tourism dollars and our hearts into the places we visit, those plane ticket purchases will not have been in vain! : )

      P.S. Oh my word, the puppies. I’ve been the coldhearted one as Ted and I have talked about dogs in our future life…but those little fuzzies won me over! : ) Ted was overjoyed!

  • Reply Stephanie - The Travel Chica November 11, 2012 at 12:58 am

    I love the tourist information office.

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