Spent the weekend about a half hour south of Tanga. Holy crap. If you want to see paradise, Peponi is the place to go. We left Saturday morning, quite in a rush actually. Everyone else was catching the 9 am bus but Jenny and I had to go to the bank so we went to catch the 10 am bus. We were running a bit behind so we started running (yes, literally running) down the railroad tracks (our route to town). Let me remind you that there are two kinds of walking even. African walking which hardly walking at all, but more ambling or moseying. Then there is Mzungu walking, which is reasonably paced for most places, but miserable and insane in this heat and dirt. So we're running down the tracks and my bag comes open. We stop, zip it up, and keep going. About 5 minutes later i heard this "hello, my friend..." which I usually ignore because it is usually guys wanting to talk to you, but i looked over to see a guy, sweating, holding my towel. It had fallen out the back and he had chased us down the tracks to return it. Now thats friendliness! He of course proceeded to ask for my name and number, but I thanked him profusely and continued on my way.
The bus to Peponi was crammed. As it turns out, our friends were all also on the bus. They had boarded the bus at 9, but it had successfully made 2-3 trips around the corner and had waited there for some time. When a few people had gotten annoyed about this, the conductor shrugged and stated, "It's Africa." You can't argue with that.
Peponi in Swahili means Heaven and I'm convinced this is what heaven is like. It was a perfect temperature. A hot day with an Ocean breeze. And not just any breeze, an INDIAN OCEAN breeze. The Indian Ocean, in pictures is always shown as this deep bluish green. Who would have thought that the real thing could be more vivid?! After lounging around most of Saturday, eating amazing food and playing darts in the sandy-floored restaurant area, we left Saturday afternoon for a dhow (sailboatish) cruise to a private sand island. The water was, and I'm not kidding you, breathtaking every time youi looked at it. At certain times it was the epitome of Ocan Blue. Other times it took on a color so bright green it was almost Jade. The shallow parts were of course a bright Aquamarine. Stunning. Absolutely stunning. We snorkelled a bit (coral is beautiful!) and then relaxed on this island. The island itself is probably a litle smaller than a football field. The sand is soft and white and it is completely empty. No plants, grass, or really even rocks. Just a few crab holes and some beautiful shells. I came back with a handful of really gorgeous shells.
Sunday morning all of us (there were 13) divied up into teams and had an all-out no holds barred sand sculpture contest. My team went local creating a map of Tanzania, full with Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Ngorogoro Crater (complete with animals. I'm very proud of my hippo. This was my baby), Zanzibar (Katie's job- it had a spcial touch. One of the old volunteers apparently travelled to Zanzibar and is now engaged to a Rasta. Don't worry, they made it into the sculpture is as well.), a safari truck, the Olduvai Gorge (where they found the oldest human remains... we found a bone looking thing on the beach), an authentic village (complete with clothesline, huts and drop toilet), and our house (with our guard out front). The other team went the international route, constructing the Sphinx and pyramids, Buckingham Palace, and some other crap international landmarks. I'm sad so say that we lost, but only because we did not use much sand. We used grass, shells, and whatever else we could find instead.
We took a taxi back and I'm proud to say that I sat in the front seat (on the Left side of the car no less!) and made great friends with our taxi drive, Faridhi. My Swahili skills are limited, but getting better.
So now I'm back in T Town, several of our best friends are leaving this weekend, which we're bummed about, but we get some new volunteers this Sunday. All is well, All is well.