Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sunrise in Zanzibar

On the equator, the sun rises at 7 am. On the equator, on the shore of the Indian Ocean, on a clear morning, the sun blasts through closed shutters and thin mosquito nets and shut eyelids to shine directly into the brain, bringing messages of comfort, warmth, and ohmygoddidIoversleepwhendothestudentsarriveattheairportgetupgetupgetup.

I didn’t oversleep. It was about 9:40 am, and the staff was waiting for me so they could figure out what was next. I ate a delicious breakfast of mango, passion fruit, and pineapple, with eggs, bread, and instant coffee. Then I inspected the house. Bahati Villa is a lovely space, but they clearly were not ready for our group. The fan in my bedroom made a horrendous noise, the hot water wasn’t working in one room, and the whole place needed a cleaning. The upstairs had some broken furniture laying around. None of it looked like it had been used in awhile. Also, the retaining wall was being repaired – we had noisy workmen in the yard every morning for the first week. I was supposed to speak to Cecilia, the house manager, about any complaints. She never showed up on that first day, and in fact never showed up at all. In the realm of everything that can go wrong in Africa, this is minor. But I still have to address it with the owner.

I called for a driver and went to pickup one of the students and Julie Graves at 2:30. Julie is an old friend of mine, but she’s also an MD teaching at a med school on St. marten. Her school is setting up pre-med programs all over the Caribbean and Africa. She came to evaluate Zanzibar and Tanzania. We collected them at the airport and headed out to Kikadini. Neither had ever been to Africa before, and the student had never even seen livestock. She saw her first cow, goat, and gecko on this trip – I’m so proud!

Dinner by Hassan Tege – kingfish in coconut curry, with vegetables and chipati. People here love Indian food – there’s curries and chipati everywhere. I confessed my great cooking weakness – no matter what I do, no matter what recipe I follow, I cannot make curry. The last time I tried (green curry with eggplant and green beans) the result was so horrendous I tossed the whole batch after two bites and STILL felt ill the next day. This is a source of great personal shame. Maybe Hassan can teach me how to make curry. Anyway, I got them settled in and called it a night.

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