I think I've become desensitized to bugs after having been here for six weeks. At home in Canada, I don't think I would ever accept a meal that has a few bugs cooked into the rice, crawling around the sugar bowl, or floating around in the soup. But here, I've been very comfortable just scooping them out at each encounter and continuing with my meal. It's quite gross thinking about it now, but here little things like that don't matter. That's probably one of my biggest learnings from the entire trip: learning to let the little things go. It's a learning such as that which makes one a happier, more easy going person, and truly allows one to enjoy life more!
In addition to the bugs in my food, I've also learnt to ignore the creepy crawlies around the house. The first time we saw a cockroach in our home in Kigali, I jumped up from my seat, so scared of the giant thing! I kept my eyes on the creature and could not get any work done until Chris chased it around and squished it. But now when I see them darting around on the floor, I am quite okay staying where I am and simply raising my feet when I hear it crawling towards me. Overall, I'm very happy with this learning of "letting the little things go," and hope I can continue to apply it in life upon my return home.
On Monday, I enjoyed breakfast on the rooftop terrace once again, and then rushed to check out from my room. Joy, the lady at the front desk was kind to book us a taxi to the beach hotel for the afternoon, and let us keep our bags in the hotel while we finished our sight-seeing in Stone Town. Jamie wanted to do some more shopping, and I really wanted to go see the Jamat Khane, so we decided to split up and meet back at the hotel in time for our taxi.
Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The AKTC really has done a lot of work in Zanzibar, and I was taken aback by the before and after photos of the building and waterfront. I now understand why the people of Zanzibar are so appreciative of His Highness the Aga Khan, as he really has invested a lot of time, energy, and resources into the preservation of this historic town, and for the benefit of the people of the island.
Once I reached the Jamat Khane with a huge smile on my face, I was painfully reminded that it was mid-day and the chances were quite slim that anyone would be there to open the door. I rang the bell of the Jamat Bhai's (caretaker) door, but it was locked from the outside, so I figured he must be out. I still had a few hours before I was to meet Jamie, so I was about to sit down and leave another note here, just as I had done in Masaka, when I heard another door open a few feet away. It was an assistant to the Jamat Bhai, and he let me in. He also told me to wait in the foyer, as the Jamat Bhai was actually in, just three stories up attending to some errands!
After our tour, I signed the guest book, and asked about this famous local restaurant, which is essentially a "hole-in-the-wall" place. Tazim Aunty, a friend from our congregation back home, had recommended I try it out before leaving Zanzibar, and she said it was near khane. The Jamat Bhai led me through the winding streets, and we literally stopped at a cut-out door in a concrete wall. Inside were more bare concrete walls and floor, and a lady sitting by a giant frying pan. Beside her was a small table with her supplies, and across from her was a small concrete bench, with two other ladies sitting down eating their lunch. The Jamat Bhai ordered for me, and I watched her prepare my meal. She fried fresh "bhajias" in the pan, and then added potatoes, some other squishy vegetable, and a lot of sauces and spices, before handing it to me in a pink plastic bowl. She asked the Jamat Bhai if I liked spices, and of course I wanted to experience the real deal, so I nodded yes and regretted it a few minutes later! Although my mouth was on fire, the dish was amazing! It's true when they say the most run-down, simple food places are often the absolute best, most delicious finds!
Now I generally trust people very easily, and I like to see the best in people, but I'm not going to lie: for a split second, I thought the driver was kidnapping me and about to drop me off in this ultra-poor village to be his wife. I'm ashamed now to have had that thought run through my mind, but it's something to laugh about I suppose!
The village detour turned out to be a roundabout way of getting to the beach, which was private for our resort and quite secluded. He dropped me off just as the sun was coming out, and I was greeted by the bartender, who led me down the path to the beach, which was a two minute walk from the bar.
After freshening up and meeting up with Jamie for dinner once again, I went to the African Goma show. It was a wonderful display of music and traditional dancing, and at one point, they released a huge snake onto the deck! They had taken my and a few other ladies' hands, and had us standing up before we knew there was a snake to come out, so when they started taking the snake around to each of us, most people were quite frightened and ran away. A couple men stood up to display their bravery and hold the snake, and when it came around to me, I was terrified, but realized I probably wouldn't have a chance to hold such a huge reptile anytime in the near future, so I took a deep breath, held out my hands, and had it hissing around my neck! It was so strong, and had quite the tight grip, but its leathery skin was surprisingly super soft.