After two days exploring Malindi and Stone Town, Meredith and I left for the isolated East Coast of Zanzibar. We had reservations to spend two days at the Shehe Bungalows on Jambiani Beach, about two hours and a lifetime away. We had arranged our trip through Kassidi, who coordinated all the reservations and travel; we simply had to pack and wait for our ride.
At about 7 AM, a small minivan, not dissimilar to the other dalla dallas we had seen in Tanzania, pulled up to the entrance of the Malindi. A friendly young African man wearing the traditional white hat common amongst the Muslim men in Zanzibar met us with a broad grin at the door. He was accompanied by two other African men, a young and amiable kid, no more than 18 years old, and an impassive, goateed man in his early twenties, with droopy eyes and wearing a large black woven Jamaican-style cap embroidered with the word "Peace. " He looked remarkably like Snoop Doggy Dog.
Meredith and I piled into the van along with two other young passengers from the US. Reggae music blasted from the van's cassette deck, and our three guides jammed with the island music. We began our journey to Jambiani.
It wasn't exactly a direct trip. After we left the Malindi, we drove first to a hotel just outside Stone Town where our driver, whom I dubbed Bob Marley, exited with his young partner. Snoop remained in the van, grooving to the music. Bob soon jumped back in the van, only with two new Wailers joining him. The kid remained behind, and we took off into Stone Town.
In Stone Town, we pulled up to another hotel, one close to Kassidi's Office. Bob again climbed out of the van, this time with the two Wailers we picked at the last stop, and began a loud and energetic conversation with three or four Zanzibar locals waiting by the entrance of the hotel.
Snoop sat there, stoic.
Bob climbed back in with his Wailers, and we took off back again toward the first hotel. When we arrived, the two new Wailers jumped out, and Wailer number one, the young kid we dropped off only moments before, jumped back in. Back we headed into Stone Town. Back, in fact, to the hotel we had just left.
Again we pulled up to the hotel, and this time, Bob and all his Wailers exited the van, Snoop included. Meredith and I sat there, confused, amused, and curious about our current situation. We were anxious to get to Jambiani, but we were participants in a mobile version musical chairs. When the reggae stops, everybody sit down and burn one! It felt like we had joined some oddball Rastafarian circus, and we were unwitting guests in the clown car. But to be honest, it was more fascinating than frustrating.
After Bob entertained us with another heated discussion in Swahili with his waiting compatriots, a British family of four finally emerged from the hotel - a gentleman, his wife, and their two blond boys, about seven and ten years old. The seven-year-old stepped into the alley toward the van.
And was promptly run over by a speeding moped. POW!
Everyone ran over to the boy, who was tying to pick himself up off the ground, covered in dirt, and crying like he had just been run over by a speeding moped. Surprisingly, thankfully, he emerged from the collision unhurt. A scrape here, a bruise there, but mostly he was just scared. The moped, in case you're wondering, was unharmed.
Reminder to all the kids out there, look both ways before crossing the road.
Snoop stood there, stoic.
Eventually, all their bags were stuffed into the back of the Rasta Wagon, all the tears were dried, all the Wailers were ready, and Bob, Snoop and the kid climbed into the van, lit a few cigarettes (the tobacco kind), and we were finally en route to Jambiani.
We were packed tight into the van. The cargo area was stuffed to the ceiling, the two original travelers from the states sat in back with the young moped hunter and his mom, while Meredith and I sat in the middle bench with the his father and older brother. We bounced along the rutted dirt road to Jambiani, spotting a few rare red colobus monkeys (found only in Zanzibar) along the way. The real Bob Marley entertained us through the van's radio the whole bumpy way. Zanzibari Bob, in his typical energetic style, spoke forcefully in Swahili about something of apparently great importance to his young Wailer in the passenger seat who nodded in agreement - when he wasn't jamming with the original and more famous Bob on the radio.
Snoop sat there between them, stoic.
Two hours and a lifetime later, we were at the Shehe Bungalows, and Meredith and I sat relaxed, our feet in the sand, and stared out at the horizon, the Indian Ocean breaking on the reef in the distance, the waving palm trees, and the returning tide.