Saturday, June 7, 2014

Travel Day 3: Stone Town to Jambiani. Or Kikadini.

I arrived at ZNZ over an hour late. I filled out my customs form (easy) and my visa application (easy). The process was very professional and quick – I was fingerprinted, photographed, and visa-ed in 15 minutes. I picked up my luggage and emerged into the passenger pick-up area to find…no one waiting for me. The flight was so late the driver gave up and went home. I called his number, but he didn’t answer. The airport people started packing to go home. I told the taxi manager where I was supposed to go, and he said he had a driver familiar with Jambiani. Mmady could take me there, no problem.

We drove for an hour until we got to Jambiani. I chose this location for two reasons: price and safety. Stone Town can be rough at night, and the villages popular with foreign tourists have become magnets for theft. The food is also far cheaper than we could find in Stone Town. On the other hand, transportation is killing my budget. I’m spending 65 for every airport run, and 50 to go to the capitol. But safety was my primary concern: I had actual nightmares about students getting mugged. So we get to Jambiani and start looking for a sign to point us to Bahati Villa. We can’t find one. We drive around and around, and can’t see any sign pointing us in the right direction. Herds of cattle and goats get annoyed at us: we're interrupting the night. Eventually, we find a group of people singing at a funeral. The songs were rolling and sad and exquisite. If I'd thought it was within the bounds of decency to record a funeral, I would have. All I can say is that's the music I want sung over me someday.

One of the kids at the funeral tried to help us, but he’s never heard of Bahati. He calls over a few friends, and they’ve never heard of Bahati Villa either. I start to worry. What if – sweet Jesus no – I’ve been had? What if this lovely beach house is just a few photos and a website, and I just forked over thousands in student fees to a con artist? I called the owner, knowing that it was 3 am in Germany (where she is). She didn’t answer, so I left a message. By now Mmady was exhausted. He found me another guest house and the owner showed me a room for $20. Then the owner called back. She gave us directions to Kikadini, a sort of suburb of the greater metropolitan Jambiani area. Bahati is in Kikadini, not Jambiani proper. And as it turns out, they have no sign at all, just an anonymous black gate.

I met the staff (after they woke up) and they took me to one of the rooms. I was so tired I just fell into bed and went to sleep in the same clothes I'd been wearing for 48 hours. It was 4 am.

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