Time can be a fickle friend. Ebbing and flowing in seemingly random ways that have nothing to do with the sixty minutes an hour contains. Stretching to infinity when you are waiting for an epic event – say a magical African adventure – or becoming both quick and slow at the same time, like during a flight. The waiting and flying taking forever, but time always seeming to have flown by in hindsight.
It is the same on the road and our travels on Zanzibar are no exception. Time stretches as we admire the former glory of Stowntown. European architecture was not made to withstand the forces of a tropical sun on a small island. The dilapidated old buildings do provide a certain charm to the surroundings that reminds me a bit of Georgetown, Malaysia.
We spent an afternoon strolling trough the winding and narrow streets while we get to know the first fellow Dragomanner a bit better. The few hours we have to kill before we meet everyone else stretches at the same rate that our pace slows down. The sun and heat not inviting excessive exercise and the town being small enough to make our leisurely way towards a bar and then back to the hotel so we can meet everyone.
Meeting everyone happens in a flurry of excitement. In our happiness to meet everyone and to finally start our trip, time passes in the same flurry. We find ourselves at a beautiful rooftop at sunset, eat at a local market learning a few words of Swahili and then all of a sudden we are on a boatbar in the bay. The time it takes for our disgusting cocktails to arrive nearing the time it takes for us to just go and swim back to shore.
The next morning arrives without warning and we visit a church on the site of a former slave market. The guide is very knowledgeable and tells us more about this horrific history – that the Dutch sadly played such a big and awful role in – but nothing prepares me for the shock of the number of today’s slaves: 21 million. How did none of us have any idea of the extend of the number? Time doesn’t allow us to contemplate this number to any extend though.
It speeds up again as we travel to a market and then to a spice farm. As interesting as the tour is – and it really is – all the smells and flavours are making me so hungry that the tour lasts for an infinite number of moments until we finally arrive at our guide’s house for a wonderfully flavoursome curry. The rest of the day, we hang out at Nungwi beach, enjoying the water, the sun, some beers and the company of new friends. The sunset so beautiful that there is just no way I will ever get tired of gazing at it.
Time keeps ticking away slowly as the next morning Erik and I join one other Dragomanner for a tour of the local forest and mangrove and for spotting red backed Red Columbus Monkeys. At first we find them near the road along with so many other tourists that it feels more like a zoo than seeing animals in the wild. But after a guide leads us into the forest itself, and we then proceed to ditch said guide, we have a chance to observe them in the wild. At a place where time seems to stand still I first see a few branches moving and then spot a monkey, all on my own! I feels so proud that I could shout – but don’t because I don’t want to scare away the wildlife.
Afterwards, time becomes an irrelevant factor because the heat gets to me and I don’t feel well for a little while. Some sports tablets replenish my nutrients and with every drip of electrolytes flowing through my blood, time starts to flow again as well. It flows with me through breakfast and the drive back to Stonetown and continues to flow away as we hang out for an hour, entertained by one Dragomanner massaging another – professionally that is – and drinking amazing milkshakes – English toffee is even better than vanilla!
As we near the boat, fear of becoming seasick leave no room for paying any attention to time whatsoever, but that fear proves to be unfounded. Some ginger tablets from yet another Dragomanner either keep the seasickness at bay or make me fall asleep. Either way I wake up two hours later in Dar es Salaam where we get to meet our truck, Caprise, for the first time.
Our first drive is bumpy and long and we are glad to arrive at our very first campsite. Just in time for setting up camp, swimming and then sleeping as we have two long drives ahead of us. Time to go to Malawi! Time for two 14-hours days, early mornings and all the wonderfulness that overlanding entails.