Stone Town, Zanzibar
As the two Africans in the front seat drove me further into the remote woods, I was hoping they intended to take me snorkeling and not to beat and rob me…or make me their wife. I had no idea where we were headed, but I suspected I was booked on a rogue snorkeling tour, which turned out to be true. What’s a girl to do but take a leap of faith and trust that it will all work out?
We finally arrived at the beach and I relaxed a bit. I joined the huge group of tourists waiting on the beach, but my new friend (who is in charge of me for the day) called me over to join him in the shade. At first I think he’s just being nice. How sweet. But then I wondered if I’m being separated from the rest of the tourists. I keenly watched everyone, assessing the situation.
As we pulled away in the dhow, a traditional wooden boat, it was just me and four Africans. This was definitely a rogue tour. The hoards of white people left behind on the beach were either thinking I was the luckiest girl ever to have a private boat or I was crazy as all get out. Maybe both. It turned out to be the former. I had an entire boat to myself, paid the same price as the other tourists and we got to each destination before the big crowds.
We explored the mangroves, went snorkeling, and climbed around some baobab trees. My crew made an amazing lunch, grilling freshly caught fish, shrimp and lobster. But the absolute best was when we had a whole little deserted island to ourselves before the other tourists showed up and ruined our paradise. (It was really more like a little sand bar, but details.) White sand, deep blue and turquoise water, the colors so bright and contrasting it hurt my eyes.
As we made our way back to shore, I reflected on how the best travel moments require that you be a good judge of character and take some leaps of faith.