Then there was the day when I boarded a bus with a few other tourists as we were promised the chance to ‘swim with dolphins!’—I have of course attempted to do this in the past, but never could I have imagined that I would have such an experience as I did that day! As we walked out onto the beach I froze in my place, entirely awestruck by the beauty that surrounded me—such blue and such white. The place where the water met the sky was hardly discernable, for their colors blended seamlessly. And then, as our boat tuttered out to sea and came to stop, rocking slowly and steadily, we caught our first glimpse of the dolphins, their grey glossy fins there to greet us at the water’s surface. Fins ready, goggles on, snorkel set and we heard our captain shout, “Now! Jump!!” As I took my first plunge from the warm wooden boat, the thoughts raced through my mind: “how deep is it??” and “will the dolphins mind us?” And then quick, cold water surrounded me which I welcomed with a fast gasp of air. Below and around me was the crystal water, the ocean floor about 30 feet below, and to my right, about 20 dolphins ever-gracefully and beautifully flying together. Their fins hardly moved against the water, except for that of the baby dolphin who played alongside her mother as they traveled with the group. We had to paddle hard to keep up with the dolphins who raced on below us, though they never seemed to labor or make a movement of effort. Then, every so often the family of dolphins would slowly rise up toward us and make their push into the surface with a fast spray of water. Once we saw the baby dolphin leap into the air with joy or fright or playfulness. Though we were swimming quite with them, I always felt like such a bystander, beholding an entirely different civilization below me. I could hear their conversations of squeeks and chirps all along the way, beneath the water. It was so incredible.
On the same day, we went to a jungle park where, after a short hike through tall, green, wet trees we could find friendly and small monkeys all around us. They were not afraid of us, though they were quite wild and on their own. At one point, I walked by one of them and it held on to my leg! I voiced a noise of concern and it scampered away a few feet in fear. We both looked back at each other in curiosity at what sound the other had made.
A few days later, Alison and I rode a boat a ways to an incredibly beautiful snorkeling spot. Again, I took the icy jump into deep and endlessly clear water. This time, schools of multi-colored fish surrounded me, seemingly unbothered by my presence. Every so often I would take a big gulp of air and dive down among them so that I could be alone and swimming within their school, looking up at surface of the water from below.
The food was incredibly delicious everywhere and we were able to stay in lovely back-packers lodges for about $12 a day—breakfast included!
Stonetown, the main city in Zanzibar, enthralled us with its beautifully ornate architecture and intimately winding alleys and streets. On the second-to-last day, our friends Cameron and Simone arrived to spend some days there as well. We were greeted with their laughter and stories for many hours before we had to leave them and the island behind.
After getting henna tattoos, a tan, a lot of sleep, and incredible memories to keep forever, I am very happy to be back in Arusha. Please do go to Zanzibar if ever possible.