We ambled straight from breakfast to the water's edge, removed uneccesary clothing, and waded into the inviting water. A few drops of rain added to the refreshing sensation. The early morning sea was slightly cooler than the temperature we had felt the previous evening due to the sands having cooled down overnight. This rendered it warm as opposed to hot, but it was still agreeable. We swam and larked about in the crystal clear water. Gazing back at the long swathe of palm trees stretching for miles, with only the occasional glimpse of buildings through the green wall, reminded us that we were not on a desert island.
Wading Sea Bird
The tide was on the ebb, and soon we ran out of water as the shoreline started to recede out to the distant reef. We returned to shore under now blue skies, and I reclined on a hammock to catch up on my notes. A young group of lads skipped by along the beach, chanting some song in joyous fashion as they did so.
I normally can't abide beaches for more than an hour, I get bored unless I'm in and out swimming or exploring, but for now, this was bliss. We were all chilling out, Dan and Sally reading on the sunbeds, while I continued writing the notes you are reading from my hammock.
I met up with the Swedish couple, Jana and Maria. Their original intentions had been to visit Kenya, but because of the menacing situation looming, they had been advised to change their plans. Thus they opted for two weeks on Zanzibar, one week at the Twisted Palms Lodge, and one week in Stone Town. They were a happy couple who very much enjoyed travelling now that they were retired. At one time they had lived for three years in Zimbabwe, and had picked up the language. Sadly, nobody spoke any of it in Tanzania. I chatted about my reasons for being in Tanzania, and explained about Sally's voluntary work, and it transpired that they had aspirations for doing voluntary work in Africa. They had travelled extensively in the country, and wanted to put something back.
"What are they looking for on the reef?" asked Jana. I turned around, and there on the reef in the distance I made out a group of people apparently collecting something off the coral. "I guess it must be shellfish," I replied, offering my best logical explanation. He and Maria were going to walk out to the reef to see. "Be careful, it's said that there is very soft sand out there," I cautioned. "It's OK," said Maria, "we do lots of Pilgrim walks." I couldn't see the link with Pilgrim walks, but I let it go. We parted, and later I saw them walking far out to the distant reef.
Now becoming rapidly bored, I ventured out towards the distant reef, but in a short distance I found myself up to my ankles in squidgy sand. there was no way I was going to wade through that.
I returned to the palm fringed beach and walked steadily in a northerly direction towards the Michamvi Peninsula. The glistening white sand was peppered with the lairs of Ghost Crabs, tiny holes surrounded by a spattering of excavated sand. The small crustaceans would cartwheel off at high speed like Chinese whippets when they caught sight of me. I have that effect on most people too. Out on the sand flats exposed by the receding tide, numerous women in their bright wraps could now be seen bent over collecting shellfish. God only knows how many backbreaking hours they would need to collect enough shellfish to provide a decent meal.
After a few hundred metres, the functional buildings were replaced by delapidated and decaying shells of buildings. I presumed these sites were too far from the supplied water and electicity services to make them viable.
Laura had warned us in her welcoming spiel that about 1km up this beach a gang of teenagers would sometimes pop out of the bush and demand the money and possessions of those that had dared to cross their territory, brandishing knives as encouragement. They never ever used their weapons, but some folk were scared enough to hand over their possessions. As for me, all I had on was my swimming shorts with a camera hidden in the pocket - not worth the bother stopping. I was not accosted.
This reminded me of a story that Sally told me. A girl she knew in Kenya had been jogging, listening to her iPod as she did so. A chap stopped her, and at gunpoint demanded her money. "Here, take my iPod!" the terrified girl blurted out. "I want your money," responded her tormentor. "But I haven't got any money. Can't you see I'm just jogging? Why would I be carrying money with me?" The poor girl screamed. The chap stopped, and cogs started engaging, and then he beamed out a broad smile, "Jambo lady! You have a nice day," then off he went.
Walking Along the Sand Flats
I had walked a long way, and the heat was becoming oppresive, so there was nothing for it but to turn around and head back.
Children walked along the beach selling multi-coloured spiked fish, chaps cycled along, and motorbikes sped along the shore with boxes attached to the rear of their machines, no doubt delivering fresh sea produce.
On my return, we headed south along the beach to find a spot of lunch. In a short while, we were ensconced in a lodge, enjoying a light bite and enjoying listening to some decent background music. The clientelle were predominantly German, but all nationalities seemed to be represented along this small stretch of coast.
Later in the day, we took a long dip in the incoming tide. With the sun baking the sand flats through the heat of the day, the heat had been transferred to the incoming tide, and it felt like hot bathwater. I had to swim a far way out to reach a noticeable drop in water temperature. After a few swimming sessions, we cleaned ourselves up and set off to have an evening meal at the same place where we had lunch. In the starlight we could not find the entrance through the bush to the lodge set back from the beach. After a few futile sorties into the bush, we gave up and returned to the restaurant we had visited the previous evening.
After a sumptious meal, washed down with a South African red, we played Rummy untill we sensed the owners wanted to close up for the night.