Monday, June 19, 2006

Congo v. Zanzibar

Congo. Zanzibar. If you've never been to Congo or Zanzibar, the difference between these two places might not be apparent. Much like someone from Congo would not know the difference between Palm Springs and Detroit. However, Congo gets a pretty bad reputation from "Heart of Darkness" and that big ol' war, so perhaps I am underestimating the name recognition factor.

So right now I am in the Palm Springs of Africa - Zanzibar. Just saying the name gives me chills. One "z" is nice, but two? That's gotta be a great place. And it certainly is. I started at the Shooting Star Lodge on a beach on the eastern side. They had fresh flower petals on my bed. That nearly brought tears to my eyes. I met up with my friend Kate, who works in Darfur, and her friend who works in Ethiopia. We headed North to Nungwi, proceded to get drenched by some off-season rains, then went to Stonetown. Nothing a nice a hotel can't cure. I then met up with up with a Swedish cameraman and reporter filming special about spices. It seems like a good cover story for two guys trying to meet some ladies, but after we filmed a bit on pepper steak, I can say with 100% certainty that they are legit. And a heck of a lot of fun. We went back to Nungwi and met a nice Swedish family and ate lots of fish. I've learned that Swedish massages are not at all Swedish, that Swedes don't even know what Swedish Fish are, and that their porn star names (Name of your first pet + name of street where you grew up) are much funnier than typical american ones (the reporter's pornstar name is "Lucas Klevakilaven," though I am sure I spelled that last part wrong).

In other news, Congo is making some headlines, with a cover story on Time Magazine (click here to link to it). I suppose that's the funny thing about a world with so many problems - they can be constantly rediscovered by the media. I get a little protective when I read articles on places that I know and am quick to critique. Maybe I am envious of journalists who can pop in and out and discover the problem like Columbus did America, planting their metaphorical flags. Perhaps I am still waiting for Anderson Cooper to show up at my office in Congo and ask me for my take on things (and then ask me for a drink, of course). So it goes.


Blogger verniciousknids said...

What you say about being critical of drop-ins is so's funny how we think we know best about a place!

And Zanzibar has been on my wishlist for so long - enjoy!

12:43 AM  
Blogger Mike Lane said...

Sarah - I love the blog and love what you're doing. Enjoy Zanzibar. Right now, I'm not so far away, in Dar Es Salaam, and pondering a trip up through Uganda, down into Rwanda and Burundi and then into the DRC across to Kinshasha if possible. What can you tell me? Do you think it's safe? Doable? Thanks for any help!

11:51 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

great blog Sarah, enjoy Zanzibar, I have fond memories of new year's 2006 in stonetown but not-so-fond memories of snorkelling off nungwi. seasickness. never fun.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey kiddo.
guess what, the future came to Lubutu and i was there to cheer it in. The internet, i can't believe it.
More importantly, i also got DSTV so i get to watch the World Cup and in particular england vs Sweden tonight. (i know what a chord this will strike, i am sure you have been counting down the days to Wayne Rooney's return just as i have.) hell it's almost like being at home.
Anyway, this is the first time in months, and five or six postings that i have checked in with you, and it gave me the most wonderful half hour of giggling under the churning groan of the generator.
Half way through when you said about keeping going to the end of the year it shocked me. When i got to the part about being tired, i breathed a sigh of relief and realised that you too were mortal.
I have to say, I am crawling through this last month of my contract on hands and knees and i feel ready for the end. The rice, the boiled meat, the valley i have formed in my itchy foam matress, the talking out loud to myself to get any sense out of anyone, the rice, the boiled meat.
It's time.
So listen, there's more i could add, but this bizarre public forum is a first for me, English blog virgin that i am, so i will email. Trouble is, i don't know which one of your addresses to go for and i am not sure i have them to hand anyway.
So can you say hello to me on and i'll reply.
Take care of yourself in these last twighlight days, and i'll do the same.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Adventure Eddy said...

I'm sure Frank Sinatra sung a song about Zanzibar. Mind you, there aren't many places he didn't write a song about. Kinshasha probably being one of them.

8:31 AM  
Blogger microbano said...

I'm going to make it my mission to get Anderson Cooper to pop in.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Sahara Sarah said...

vern- i know! but we secretly love reporters. or at least i do.

mike - i am quite jealous, zanzibar is at your doorstep. uganda is a great spot to visit, rwanda is nice, burundi your movements are more restricted so it might not be the best choice. you can always pop over the border into congo (goma) from rwanda, but i would avoid july and check security in august. its election time.

emily - i hear ya about nungi! not a bad spot, but next time i will check out kendwa and head back to matemwe.

e - hi dear! i loved your comment. will email pronto. sorry, i was going for the swedes.

rols - when is adventure edddy heading to zanzibar?

micro - make sure he knows that part about taking me out for a drink ;)

12:03 PM  
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Blogger Adel said...

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2:18 AM  

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