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…