For the past five days I’ve been staying at the Sunset Bungalows on the northern tip of the island of Zanzibar, near the village of Nungwi. Initially, things did not go smoothly. On my first day I had lunch at the resort’s restaurant on the beach and tried to charge the meal to my room, intending to pay the entire bill when I checked out. For some reason they did not want me to do this, but the waiter was unable to explain why. I eventually had to hunt down the general manager for an explanation. Apparently the restaurant and the resort are owned by two different people and there is no accounting system in place that allows them to track charges from the restaurant. I could have charged meals each day but then would have had to clear the bill the next morning – fat lot of good that would have done me. I also discovered in this same conversation that the resort does not accept credit or debit cards, yet they never informed me of this prior to arriving. Fortunately I had enough cash with me to cover my food and incidentals during my stay but I met a lot of people who got caught short and were literally living on potato chips.
The restaurant’s food was terrible, the refrigerator in my room didn’t work, I had no towels, and I had WARM water (not hot) only two of the five days I was there – the rest of the time it was ice cold. The resorts to the north and south all had lounge chairs set out but the beach in front of Sunset was bare. When I asked the manager where I could get a chair he said all theirs had broken and they “had not been able to replace them.” He suggested I use the chairs from the adjacent resorts. I did better than that. I spent ALL my money at the adjacent resorts for the balance of my stay.
Every day, the moment I plopped down on the sand I was bombarded by people trying to sell me something. “Hello, good morning, welcome to massage, you like massage today?” Or, “I bring you nice fresh fruit, green coconut maybe?” Or even the incessant tour operators who never gave up trying to talk me into taking a snorkeling trip to yonder island or a two hour sunset cruise on a traditional Dhow. As if that wasn’t enough one of the local men followed me around all day, every day – repeatedly telling me he wanted to get married and make babies. Each day I none-too patiently explained that I am 55 and well beyond the baby-making age, not to mention that I wasn’t the least bit interested, but that seemed to make no impression. He continued to hound me. All I wanted was to be left alone to relax. Eventually I got so frustrated that I started being rude – either I ignored them completely or spoke sharply to them. It made ME feel bad to treat them that way but there seemed to be no other way to get them to leave me alone. Adding insult to injury, there was no Internet access at the Sunset Bungalows, and although there was Internet available at two of the other resorts along the beach, the connection was so slow that it was impossible to upload photos.
As always, I took the view that everything happens for a reason. I focused on the positive aspects and tried to ignore the problems. The beach was spectacular – a broad expanse of sugar-fine, soft white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters. It certainly ranks up there with the top ten beaches I have ever visited. The sunsets were awesome, each evening outdoing the previous night’s display.
The other restaurants I found up and down the beach had excellent food. I had two massages for about $12 each. My room was nice with a most comfortable bed and I got some much needed sleep. I stopped worrying about posting to the blog – I figured by now everyone would know that I was in a place without an Internet connection.
It is now five days later. I haven’t worn shoes for five days and my only clothes have been a bikini and a sarong. My mind has shut down completely. I mean, I’ve just stopped THINKING all the time about every little thing. It took five days but I am finally, totally content and worry free. I have let go of all stress. What a wonderful, serene frame of mind this is. If only I could find a way to sustain it. But I know I have to go back into the real world soon and all the same daily stresses will creep back in. Maybe, just maybe, I can hold onto just a little piece of this bliss so I never completely revert to that previous state of total stress. Only time will tell how well I have learned my lesson……