Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pembe Island

Dar Es Salaam, 19 Aug 2010

We went out for a nice 6.5 mile run this morning at about a 8 min mile pace. We ran mostly on the dirt roads in the neighborhood and by the beach just to glimpse the flat silvery water before turning back into the neighborhood of mansions. After a quick shower we drove out to an outdoor cafe and had a nice breakfast of croissants, orange juice, and eggs (with an extra bottle of water thrown in for me as i keep sweating for at least an hour after i run around here).

After breakfast i exchanged $300 for 450,000 Tanzanian shillings- i felt like a drug dealer carrying a huge stack of bills. They even gave me an envelope to carry all that cash.

Next we visited a shop to check the price of unlocking my iphone 3 GS and my friends blackberry storm. The iPhone would cost $380 to unlock it, but the blackberry was only $80 so I decided to keep my iPhone as it is. The shop keeper offered to buy my iphone for $800 and said that he buys them in Dubai for about $1000 and offered to buy as many i could bring in from the states.

After lunch we headed to the airport and caught an 8 man plane to Zanzibar flown by a student pilot with ZanAir. The plane kept crabbing or fishtailing in the air and the landing was kinda sketchy, but we made it in one place. It was weird to sit right behind the pilot and watch the gauges over his shoulder. Next we caught another 20 minute flight to the island of Pembe on a much larger18 passenger plane, this time piloted by tow experienced pilots (and was much smoother). The flights only cost about $20 each and with taxes was less than $100 round trip.

On the ground in Pembe we had to wait 30 mins for our ride to show up (they had thought we were going to show up another day next week) and even though no one hassled us while we waited, a taxi kept circling in the parking lot, hoping we would change our minds and hire it to take us to a hotel somewhere.

Our driver, Sori, drove his little Geo Tracker equivalent fast, honking his horn to get people out of the way, exceeding 90 kph, driving on the left side of the road. Eventually after many near misses with bicyclists, cows, chickens, and carts we made it to the end of the paved road and drove the final kilometer over a rutted and washed-out dirt road to the Pemba Paradise Resort Hotel.

We arrived at the golden hour and I was amazed at the scenery- the silvery ocean, coral cliffs, and huge baobab trees. The ambiance got even better with a purply-pink sunset and the gentle sound of the waves rolling over the reef.

We were each assigned our own "banda" cabin with a palm thatched roof with the basic essentials of a toilet, sink, shower, and a wooden bed. It wasn't a four star hotel but was good enough. Power was on until 11pm, when they shut off the generator, and didn't come back until 6am so it was a little warm without a working fan or an AC unit. Thankfully with constant ocean breezes kept the temperatures down.

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