Mostly museum pix, but some nice shots from the snorkeling trip, and lots of cute kiddies and kitties. It feels great to be back in NYC, except for the jet lag. Got to see the Whitney Biennial, which was awesome. Yes, there are always some artists that make you go “hmmm, who’d he/she blow to get into this gig?” but then there are some magnificent works as well, that make you go “hmmm, I wish I was super rich so I could buy this damn painting.” Someday…
Now it’s time for you to guess: was this photo taken at the Whitney, or at the museum in Zanzibar, which is not an art museum at all?
And here are pix from the Paris flea market, which I was so happy to be able to burn through in my >20 hours in Paris. In 3 hours, I ate a real crepe, bought some nifty yet grossly overpriced stuff, considered sleeping with the owner of this shop, (it was his idea, of course) in exchange for a stuffed crocodile, or really anything. It was the absolute cooolest place I’d ever seen. And to top it off, I found the leather jacket I’ve been looking for for months! It had to be adequately protective, as all my friends worry bout me riding in unarmored jackets, and it had to look cool and sexy. Oh, and be reasonably priced. Check all of the above! Pix of it in action when I return to my beloved, who has been patiently awaiting my return while bound securely to my garage floor.
While discussing the possiblity of living in Tanzania with my fellow volunteers, I think the first reason I blurted out as to why I couldn’t, is that I need wifi in bed. So here I am, at the airport Paris Hilton in a very confortable bed indeed. Loving it. Spent the whole day on airplanes yesterday, but aside from donating my leatherman, scissors and Ducati screwdriver to Schipol airport, it went very smoothly. Got my own row on the big flight, so it was almost like having a private room. Even the kid in the row ahead was well-behaved, everything was hakuna matata. I spent the last day in Zanzibar (well, not the entire day, just a few hours of it) watching “The Lion King” on TV at my friends’ hotel room. I had never seen it, except of course in real life, but yeah, the Disney version was neat too.
I returned to Kilimanjaro airport to spend one night at the luxurious yet affordable (and only) airport hotel, Kia Lodge, so I could get my 9 am flight without hassle. It’s a really nice hotel, designed to look like a Maasai village, but with a swimming pool and bar and stuff like flushing toilets, glass windows, etc. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone planning a safari to any of the magnificent places near there, Mt. Kili, Mt. Meru, etc.
So today I head back to NYC, which should be fun if I can adjust to the time difference. I tried to stay up past midnight but couldn’t, as I’d been up since 5 am. My porter here at the Paris Hilton is from DRC and speaks swahili, so that was nice, after accidentally saying “asante” to everyone when I meant to say “merci”. Not sure if I should bum around the hotel, or try to hit the Marche aux puces (awesome flea market) which is kinda nearby…
Day before yesterday, I went snorkeling in the Indian Ocean, pretty far off the west coast of Zanzibar. It was HEAVEN!!! I was scared at first, and wanted to be sure they didn’t leave me out there alone. But by the afternoon, I was swimming pretty far from the boat, chasing fish. There were soooo many colorful and amazing fish, and all the coral was beautiful too. I have never seen such a beautiful place. The Indian Ocean is way cooler than the others because it is crystal clear. Even though microscopic plankton are nibbling at your skin, you can see really far into the water. When it was time to go, I really didn’t want to leave. Taugh Danio how to swim, at the beach the day before, to see if he’d want to snorkel as well. He took to swimming quite well, but chose to stay on the boat. The company was One Ocean, and I highly reccomend them to anyone considering diving in this area. Still haven’t managed to explore the island, but have really enjoyed Stone Town. Found an amazing hotel just a few minutes north od the city, called the Mtoni Marine Centre. We got a deluxe room facing the beach with air-con, a FULL bathroom (Danio had never used a bathtub before, and I hadn’t seen one since I left LA) and a lovely balcony. The food here was excellent, I finally got my chocolate fix, with an awesome brownie sundae. I have not been able to find good chocolate here or in Arusha, so it was a real treat.
Here’s a Maasai Pool Shark. Unlike Maasai in and around Arusha, these guys were happy to be photographed, free of charge. They come to Zanzibar because it’s easier to make money here, selling jewelry and whatever. So they seem to be in better spirits.
Yesterday, Danio and I went to the “House of Wonders” and the adjoining museum, where I blasted through at my usual museum lightning pace, taking pictures of everything, most of which are about to be up on Snapfish here: http://www2.snapfish.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=43185880/a=51230642_51230642/t_=51230642
Unfortunately, Danio didn’t tell me until that night that he’d have liked to stay longer in the museums. I failed to realize that along with many other firsts for him this week, it was also his first time in a real museum. And there I was thinking it was poorly curated. I showed him the list of museums I have on Vindigo NYC, which is about 136, to show how many more museums there are in the world, and it’s a matter of picking the ones that interest you and focusing on them. It’s sad that he has this hunger for knowledge which is so difficult to satiate in a small East African town.
Tonight I fly back to Kilimanjaro airport, hang out all night then fly to Paris first thing the next morning. I’ve really enjoyed Zanzibar, but am also really eager to get to NYC Saturday night.
Here in Zanzibar, the vendors are much more polite than in Arusha. One guy did try to follow me tonight and I finally told him he’d be arrested if he kept following me to my destination. That stopped him dead in his tracks. I really like Stone Town, it’s a lot like Bologna’s city center, with streets so narrow you can barely fit a Vespa and a pedestrian. I love this place, let me count the ways: Dinner on the beach (sand beneath my feet and everything) while watching the sunset in glorious shades of pink over the Indian Ocean with the Tanzania mainland well beyond the horizon. Sipping clove tea and eating exotic, flavorful food (Arusha cooking is completely devoid of seasonings). Finding out that I can rent a Vespa (and a helmet!) and bop around. I can’t wait! I think they even have some P200E’s. Then, I found a very chic and fabulous store where I could actually use my credit card, and the prices were reasonable. Too bad I have no space in my luggage. Well, ok, so I have enough space for a bias-cut voile djellaba with pink sequins and asymmetrical hem. Perfect for a sexy beach cover-up.
So many adorable kitties running in the streets. One particularly brazen one was posing on the beach, first right next to the water, as if she was defiantly showing how little she feared the water. Some boys ran by and scared her, so she moved further inland. After I finished dinner, I went over and sat with her and pet her. She had the cutest raspy meow, like she’d been smokin’ three packs of cloves a day her whole life. She was very affectionate until she got testy, so I left her, as I don’t have my rabies vaccination. There was a very sad kitten in the middle of a narrow street, totally fearless in a way that made it seem like she was too sick to care. Some shopkeeper tried to sell her to me and I explained to him that in my country cats are free, and besides, this one was a mess. Anyway, it’s nice being surrounded by kitties.
I am seriously contemplating setting up a fair-trade export of some of the products sold in TZ, as I think they would be very popular in the US and really anywhere where there are people who like to buy things that support sustainability. The Maasai make these cool sandals out of old tires, which makes me so happy I could cry. Not only does it employ disadvantaged people, but it saves the planet. People actually BURN tires and other trash here, so the less there is, the better. I want to sell them by the thousands in CA and NY, to start. Also, bottlecaps (no soda cans here, and the bottles are all returned to the plant for re-use) are made into all manner of things, like earrings, and decorative boxes. There was a segment on the news the other night about how someone found a way to melt down the plastic shopping bags that are strewn all over here, and turn them into chic tiles. I also want to open a recycling plant so people can collect recyclable junk and sell it to the plant, like they do in the US. But that’s a project for another time.