As I have just finished a wonderful lunch of biryani rice with “mutton” also known as goat, I have found an hour or so to update properly. I have been very busy for the past two weeks and finding time to blog has been very difficult. Most recently, I moved into my homestay in Stone Town. My family is very large and they own a small shop in the basement of the house which sells mainly food. They keep chickens and pigeons as far as I can tell. They are originally from Oman, as many other families on Zanzibar and are very nice.
Before moving into the homestay, we spent four days on the beach at Kiwengwa for orientation and Kiswahili lessons. After returning, we went to Kizimkazi to try to swim with the dolphins which was anticlimactic because a couple of wazungu practically cannon balled into the water scaring away the dolphins. -__- On the way back to Stone Town from Kizimkazi we stopped by the Zanzibar Butterfly Center which exports pupae to butterfly gardens around the world on a small scale. Their garden was beautiful and had many species of butterflies fluttering around.
Yesterday I had one of the most enlightening lectures on Islam. The lecturer teaches are The State University of Zanzibar and is an assistant Imam at a mosque in Stone Town. The lecture was very informative and presented in a fashion that was not confrontational nor did it seem as if he was trying to proselytize, which was a huge plus for me. The lecture involved laws, the Pillars of Faith, dress, and other practices.
My Swahili lessons for the past two days have involved going to various parts of the city to converse with locals. Yesterday, I went to the house where my teacher stays and spoke with his friends and their mother. After meeting the family, we went to the place where his friends hang out to converse for a few minutes. Today, we went to a small, local café that serves small food items and drinks for coffee before going to a hotel to ask for prices. We went to the Tembo House Hotel first to ask the price, but the very rude hotelier responded by saying that he had no time to deal with us. We then crossed the roundabout to speak to the Serena Hotel. I discovered that the price for a double room is $325 US per night and a single is $250 US per night! I was appalled that the hotel was that expensive, well above the price range of most locals.
After leaving the hotel, my teacher explained that the difference between rich people and everyone else is very large in Tanzania. I went on to explain that America is much the same and shared my disgust with the biashara chafu of Mitt Romney. He was taken aback by the price of Ann Romney’s horse. After our healthy discussion of American politics, we moved to the corruption of Tanzania and Africa in general. At the conclusion of that, a young woman sat down next to us at Forodhani Gardens. She was 22 and wished to learn English. My teacher jokingly said that I was looking for a Zanzibari wife and that my name is Rashid. She immediately asked if I was Muslim and seemed downtrodden when he told her that I was not Muslim and that I was looking for a “beautiful” Zanzibari, not just a normal one. I kind of felt sorry for her until she started flirting with him.