Beach paradise in Nungwi
29.03.2011 - 07.04.2011 32 °C
Ok, I'm going to make a few people jealous right now. Stringer and I have just spent eight nights in Nungwi, northern Zanzibar. We stayed in Nungwi Beach Bungalows for £7 a night and our room opened, quite literally, onto the beach. And not just any old beach. Pure white sand ran into the clearest water I've ever known. Despite swimming 30 metres out, the sea floor could be seen as clearly as if we were standing on the beach.
Our days there were spent sunbathing in the consistent 30 degrees heat, occasionally popping to the bar for a beer, which cost a measly one pound. The hour or so of rain, which usually fell between 10am and 11am, gave us respite to either have a nap or go on the internet. Lunch, which particularly for Stringer consisted of a massive burger most days, cost a mere £4 and we went back to sunbathe soon after. Our evening meal, when we could choose from a wide variety of freshly caught fish (or in Henriette's case, pizza) also cost less than a fiver including drinks!
I must explain, though, that our room was nothing special. Run by a motley crew, who looked like Zanzibar's very own version of the mafia, our room at Nungwi Beach Bungalows consisted of two beds, a fan and a light. Not that I'm complaining, as it was all we needed. After eight days, though, our room contained a colossal amount of sand and our bedsheets, which weren't changed for six days, became caked in sand! Our bathroom, too, was basic. The toilet was on a slope and the 'shower' feebly dribbled one jet of water. Sometimes we were lucky and two jets of water came out, so our left shoulder and right thigh was clean - lucky us!
Getting there was also a slight issue. Having arrived at Kilimanjaro airport with our flight due to leave at 09:40, we chilled out and waited. But suddenly, our flight disappeared from the departures screen. Evidently, we were a little worried and tried to resolve the problem.
"Why has our flight disappeared from the board?" we asked. The response was a shrug of the shoulders.
"Will we still be flying today?". Yet again, a nonchalant shrug.
"Where is the airline representative?"
"He is not here now," came the response.
Eventually, we were told that we'd been moved to the afternoon flight - good job we didn't have a connecting flight to catch! This journey was seamless and after seven hours at Kilimanjaro airport, we were glad to be in the taxi on the way to Nungwi. Winding down a decrepit road bordered by what looked like a landfill site, we were incredibly sceptical that we were on our way to paradise. But we had no reason to be worried.
The first person we met in Nungwi was Stacey, who we'd climbed Kili with and agreed to meet there for the last night of her holiday! What are the odds?! The next day we bumped in Henriette and Malinn. They've been travelling for three months in Austrailia and Thailand - they're so tanned that they're often called 'cappuccino'! Vitor was also there and the five of us spent all week doing, well, pretty much nothing aside from sunbathe, eat and drink!
Making us feel even more lazy were the local children, who came every evening at about 5 o'clock to the beach to play football and do somersaults. Instead of a trampoline, they have cleverly recycled an old tyre to jump off. One offered to teach me, but I said I only had eight days in Nungwi - even if I was practising for eight years, I'd never be able to do it!
The only time we did anything resembling exercise was dancing a the local nightclub. Now, when I say nightclub, a more accurate description would be "somebody's back garden with a small, caged hut selling drinks". Roughly one in five songs were recognisable, yet it was so much fun! The local guys don't just do front flips superbly, they can also dance amazingly! We, the mzungu ("white people"), don't quite match their dancing talents...
On the Saturday night, 'Kendwa Rocks' offered a more western nightclubbing experience where there were plenty of mzungu. Getting there was fine - a nice stroll along the beach - but coming back was certainly not. After a meandering walk around many, many roads, we stumbled across a taxi to take us back. However, there were too many of us. Still, nine people got in the car. Two even hopped in the boot. In hindsight, it was ludicrous that we even contemplated hopping in the crammed car!
The people in Nungwi were constantly trying to sell us stuff, even when we were sunbathing, but they were incredibly friendly. Sometimes too friendly. For Henriette and Malinn especially, the guys flocked like a moth to a flame. Obviously, they needed to make a living and sell us things, but sometimes they just sat next to us while we sunbathed for at least half an hour!
I did, however, get a bit of solitude when walking along the deserted beach in the morning to the fish market. Fishermen bring their fish onto the beach, where a Del Boy character orchestrates the auction process. The huge fish are then gutted on the beach. I've now learned to not stand three feet away when this happens...
Quite clearly, we didn't want to leave Nungwi, but we had to! For Malinn and Henriette, it was the end of their three month holiday, so for them it was devastating! It was strange, and quite sad, saying goodbye to Vitor and them!
Stringer and I are now off to Stone Town, where I will leave him to dive for his final week whilst I fly off to BULA Children's Home in Uganda. It'll be a shock to the system when I realise I can't just sunbathe all day, but I'm looking forward to it immensely!