1. My personal life was like, “Hey girl, where you been?” My days seemed to consist of either being at work, thinking about work or recovering from the exhaustion of an intense workweek that left me so spent all I want nothing more than to recline on the couch, watching cartoon movies and other non-mentally taxing fare. In addition to that, most Thursday nights in the winter I played kickball with the company team. “I need to get a life!” I told my sister, N, during a phone chat. She chuckled. “I’m not insulting myself. I mean I actually need to get a life. This is pathetic. This isn’t me.”
2. A year and a half after moving to San Francisco, I kinda actually have some friends. Imagine that!
I decided to throw a party. Well…ok, not really a party, but a small gathering in my home – a place the size of one of Oprah’s walk-in closets at her Montecito ranch. A partini? A partito? Parties are even better with a theme so I settled on a “girls’ night in” since I’m acquainted with more women than men.
For nine of the years I lived in L.A., I threw an annual post-holiday party. Sadly, the last two holiday seasons sailed by without an event. I didn’t know enough people to legitimize throwing a party.
Who would I have invited? The mailperson who insists on cramming grocery ads in my mailbox even though I have unsubscribed from the junk? (You are not fooling anyone by crossing out the apartment number!) The Spanish teacher whose class I took when I first moved here? Would he insist on conversing only in Spanish? My chatty, eccentric chiropractor? She’d be trying to recruit clients all night, no doubt. (“Stand here. Look in this mirror. Now, do you see how lopsided you are when you stand up straight?! It’s incredible, isn’t it? Come to my office; I’ll fix it! Life changing!”)
Or maybe the inquisitive, cherub-cheeked young checker at my local grocery store who always comments when I buy Now & Laters, “Oh! I haven’t had these since I was a kid.” The same comment every time. Well, I still eat them because my one true addiction sugar. I’m trying to get the monkey off my back, but it’s clinging to me like Spanx! And anyway, I hate when people feel the need to make commentary on my purchases.
I limited the guest list to 12, including me. A mix of women I know from work, friends of friends who are now my friends, a few women I met thanks to Girlfriend Circles and friends from L.A. who now live here. A fun, diverse group of women in their early to mid-30s (and one late twenty-something). Tip: I always invite more people to a party than my place can handle. Unless you’re throwing an “I’m handing out free cash and weed!” party, the acceptance rate will probably be around 60 – 70%. This is not a scientific figure, I just know from experience throwing many events. Plus, there are almost always last-minute cancellations.
Have you ever been to a party without music? I really don’t understand it. What kind of party is that? A wake?
DJ Keisha Keish streamed a mix of hip-hop, hip-pop & top 40, prompting song requests from the group and shameful admissions of liking music you know is offensive and sometimes downright misogynistic, but the beat is so damn good you can’t help yourself. See: almost anything by Juicy J.
Tip: Prepare a playlist in advance, keeping in mind the mood you wish to set. Consider asking guests for their favorite songs to add to the playlist.
BITES & BUBBLES
Inspired by friends who are avid Pinterest-projecters, I turned to the site to find ideas for the food and drink menu. I decided on a combination of fun finger foods like tangy barbecue meatballs, one “sophisticated” dish, recipe by Martha Stewart; and a bubbly, easy-to-make Kir Royale as the signature drink.
I saved prep time by shopping for most of the groceries on Instacart. Thanks to Google Shopping Express I also ordered party supplies online, including a couple of serving dishes I neglected to purchase and ordered the night before the partito for delivery the next morning.
Marshmallow popcorn balls
For a healthy choice: a berry salad with a light sugar glaze and optional creme fraiche topping.
The wine station before the guests arrived
Creamy Pasta with Peas, recipe from Martha Stewart
GAMES & GIGGLES
The party gave me the perfect excuse to break out the Cards Against Humanity game gifted to me on my last birthday.
The first player (The “Card Czar”) is determined by answering the question “Who pooped most recently?” Of course, this means as a group you have to actually talk about when you pooped. I learned more about my new friends’ bowel movements than I could never have imagined or necessarily wanted to know.
“I think at like 10 this morning after breakfast?”
“I go every morning like clockwork!”
“If I don’t poop daily I get really cranky!”
After titters, giggles and me being teased for the many faces of disgust I made each time someone said “poop” (damn my vivid imagination!), the game commenced.
We spent most of the evening talking and laughing, digressions in conversation alternating with each round of the game. Topics veering from secrets of aging well to the details of G’s recent engagement (“How did he ask?” “What a pretty ring!” “Were you surprised?”) and careers (one of my friends is a urologist which always fascinates people) and every single gal’s favorite topic: dating (blech).
I’d intended to have Magic Mike playing in the background. My friend E surprised me with the DVD for Valentine’s Day this year, knowing my uncharacteristic affinity (read: crush from afar of embarrassing proportions) for Channing Tatum. What a pal!. However, the WORST ELECTRONIC DEVICE I HAVE EVER PURCHASED aka my Blu Ray player wouldn’t play the movie. Gotdamn piece of nothing good.
Tip: Something inevitably will go wrong at a party; roll with it and adjust. Don’t freak out and be that host(ess).
The party wound down naturally after hours of belly laughing and too many champagne cocktails on my part. My guests left with smiles, new acquaintances made, good times had, exchanges of hugs and “We have to get together again soon!” As I closed the door behind the last guest just before midnight, I grinned with the satisfaction of successfully pulling off my first party in San Francisco.
I just got off the phone with my dad. A 45-minute conversation.
Our conversation went something like this:
“I just tried calling you. Your voicemail box is full.”
“Oh, ok. Yeah, I never check it.”
“Someone might want to call you and leave you a message. Gotta check that.”
The only people who call me and leave messages are Walgreen’s pharmacy with an automated message letting me know that my prescription is ready. That’s it. So, not even a person.
“Ok, I will.”
Every conversation with my dad these days involves at least three themes: reminiscing about old times (and asking me if I remember them), commentary on current events & society (“Facebook is not an adequate means of communication. Your generation likes that. I don’t do that Facebook thing. Texting is not talking.”), and objections to the insane weather in Midwest, where he works.
He continued. Thoughts rolling out like waves. The only words I got in edgewise were:
“Uh, huh”, “Yeah,” “You’re right, dad,” “OK, dad,” “Oh, yeah, that is weird,” “I know I should go back to school and get my Master’s.”
With a college professor’s cadence, he touched on everything from the legacy he wants to leave in life, to explaining Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to me (a concept with which, when he asked, I said I was familiar, but he explained it to me anyway), to how Seahawks’ Quarterback Russell Wilson got married “a tad too early” at 23. However, 49ers’ QB, Colin Kaepernick, can strut down the street with Beats headphones on and be a stud to women ’cause he’s single and therefore potentially attainable.
What is this conversation we are having?
I felt my inner teen threatening an appearance, eyes ready to roll all the way up in my head, familiar thoughts resurfacing in my head like, “God, dad! I’m not a kid, I knooooow!”
I hate that I regress like this. I’ll be 50 years old, eyes all the way up in my head, like I’m 13, thinking: “Daaad, I’ve been alive for 1/2 a century now. I know!”
Then he was told me about the shows that film in Chicago like Chicago Fire. Honestly, I was half listening; we were 25 minutes in. I have had a very
busy and stressful few weeks at work and had Ratatouille cued up because my brain couldn’t handle the mentally taxing reality of non-animated fare. I tried watching the latest episode of The Vampire Diariesthe night before and I couldn’t even follow the story; that’s how mentally exhausted I am. You know it’s a real “I need to metaphorically lobotomize myself” kind of weekend when even a teen drama about hot vampires is too much.
And then I heard him say, “My buddy and I saw, who’s that guy, from that movie…Magic…Magic ‘Something’…Mike…Magic Mike?”
“Magic Mike? CHANNING TATUM?!”
I wanted to squeal and church dance. My dad saw Channing Tatumin the flesh! I had so many questions. What did he look like? What was he wearing? I hope a tight blue t-shirt that made his eyes shine like the sun and did serious justice to his pecs. What did he smell like? Was he tall? Were there little singing blue birds trailing behind him? He’s so not my type. And yet…
How has my dad seen Channing Tatum and I haven’t?! That is why I moved to L.A.! To see hot male actors in the flesh! (Oh, you thought I had legit reasons?)
I didn’t squeal though. I kept it chill.
“Oh, him. Yeah, that’s cool.” I mean, ain’t no thing. OMFG! Channing Tatum! My friend, E, just saw him on her flight last month. Why is everyone seeing Channing Tatum but me?
“So, what are your thoughts, Keisha?”
Damn! In my Channing reverie I’d checked out and hadn’t realized he’d continued talking. In my fog, I recall hearing the words “cold,” “sub-zero,” and “damn heavy jackets.” I guessed the topic had shifted to the Midwest’s cold weather.
“Oh yeah, that’s really cold! We’ve actually been having an unusually warm winter here. It’s been like 65 and sunny. It’s actually…” I was going to say that we actually finally got some much-needed rain, but he interjected with:
“65. Ho ho! That’s like telling a starving man you had a buffet with steak! 65!! What’s the high?”
“Um, that is the high. It doesn’t get that hot here.” I laughed, but it’s actually not that funny. I’d like to wear shorts once in a while too, you know, and not have to worry about rushing home to change into pants before nightfall arrives and the temperature drops 20 degrees. Like I’m Cinderella or something, dashing home before she turns back into a fake ugly girl.
“65! I tell you….”
I could tell he was happy to be on the phone with me. He didn’t outright say that, of course. He’s not the type to skywrite his feelings or Oprah-ize, though he’s certainly become more sentimental with age. Jokes aside, I appreciate these conversations with him. They are endearing. Frustrating at times (and whose conversations with their parents sometimes aren’t?), but endearing. As I get older, I become more aware of my parent’s mortality and I value the time I have with them to get to know them as adults.
“…find someone you have things in common with. If you marry a slob and you’re neat, it’s not gonna work. Don’t believe in that ‘opposites attract’ business. You understand what I mean, Keisha?”
“Uh, huh. Yes, Dad. Often it’s those little quirks you think are ‘cute’ at first, that become the most annoying or tiresome.” See? I know things!
“Right. Speaking of dating: how’s that going?”
Did I say our conversations revolved around three themes? Well, make that four.
If you haven’t watched the hilarious web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” on YouTube, you need to get on it! Issa Rae plays “J”, a well-meaning, feisty-but-lovable, often awkward, twenty-something dating, working, and trying to navigate her world in Los Angeles. She hilariously narrates the awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes cringe-worthy moments many of us encounter in our daily lives. Watching that series helped me let the gunk out after long, shitty days at my recent lifeforce-sucking job.
My awkward moments often involve men. I turn into a babbling fool around men I find attractive. I wonder: can a hot guy can peer into my soul and see just how hot I find him and how much energy it’s taking me to keep it together around him? Stop looking at me with those hot eyes; I may melt under the pressure!
There are some beautiful men in San Francisco. I don’t mean surreally good-looking like Rob Lowe or an “ordinarily I wouldn’t be into him, but he’s so damn charming” Channing Tatum kind of beauty, or in an “only in my wildest dreams”, Idris Elba kind of way. Rather, these men are beautiful in an “unassuming, I’m a 21st century man so I may use some male moisturizer, and try to present myself decently and think about what I wear (just a little), but I’m more focused on my career and the world around me than my pecs”, kind of way.
I’ve had more than a few women here, upon finding out that I’m new to the city and single, ask me: “Have you been dating online?” Not “Have you been dating?”, but rather “Have you been dating online?” As though online is the default way of meeting a potential mate. Erm, ok. People don’t meet each other through friends, classes, the grocery store (stupid articles that purport to give tips on dating always list the grocery store as a great place to meet men. The only men hitting on me the grocery store always seems to be missing teeth and a sense of smell) or just happenstance? You know, the “normal” way? This is how things go in this tech-centric city, I guess? I thought it odd, but after a few months of not meeting anyone, male or female, and feeling like men wouldn’t even make eye contact with me on the street, like I am a succubus or something ready to steal their soul, I decided to give online dating a shot again. I’d tried it a few times over the years in Los Angeles on several different sites and ended up wanting to stab myself repeatedly, effed-up-Criminal Minds-style. It was painful. I ended up meeting the guys I dated through offline methods. Imagine that.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that online dating here is soooo much simpler…at least for a woman. Holy eligible men, Catwoman! It seemed like every dude’s profile was some variation of: “When I’m not working at my [bragworthy job] I am snowboarding in Tahoe [with requisite photo of them in snowboarding gear, on top of a mountain, looking rugged], traveling to locales unexplored [along with various photos of them in front of recognizable world landmark], eating at Michelin-starred restaurants [yuppies love good food!], running marathons barefoot in the wild, rescuing orphaned puppies from mangy, rabid bobcats and mentoring impoverished children from under-served communities in Tantakistan (yes, I made that country up, don’t go looking for it). I also have my Masters in Only Super Smart People Study This subject.” Are you kidding me? Men like this exist in real life?
Of course, I also had men my dad’s age reach out to me, despite my clear age limits (I gave a good 12-year range, with my own age slightly higher than my minimum). I don’t mean to seem ageist, but I am just not interested in dating someone who could be my dad’s buddy. And I don’t think my dad would care for me to bring home a new pal for him either. It just weirds me out. Interestingly, more than a few twenty-something guys contacted me too. These young dudes are digging the thirty somethings (for what, I am not sure I want to know).
Even the men who aren’t hot-at-first-sight become really interesting and appealing once you hear about their experiences, their travels, their knowledge of the world around them, their stints in grad school, their love of dogs (my hope is find a man with a dog so that I can play with the dog and he can continue his responsibly of taking care of it, mwahhaha) and their passion for their careers. Looks are only a small part of what makes a man attractive to me.
This morning, while walking from my bus to the office, I ran into a guy from ____. We both had headphones on and for a moment I had the awkward “Are we going to walk together and chat or just say hi and go back to our music as we awkwardly walk in the same direction?” I was awkward, but he coolly took off his headphones and put them away. I followed suit. This guy is goooood-looking. He’s not usually my type, if I have one, but he’s so unpretentious and easy to talk to that I can’t help but be drawn in.
I am not usually one to go on and on about blue eyes. I’m more of a chocolate-brown eyes kinda girl. However, some people have these piercing blue eyes that come alive when they wear the right colors. I met Justin Timberlake once – in a highly embarrassing encounter where I made a straight fool out of myself and wasted my opportunity to talk to him by saying something absolutely ridiculous – and I will never forget how bright and clear his blue eyes were.
This guy had those kind of blue eyes and was wearing a deep blue jacket that made them stand out. He’s relatively tall and looks like a lacrosse player. I don’t actually even understand what lacrosse is, he’s just what I imagine a lacrosse player looks like: masculine and like he smells good even when sweaty. I felt so awkward during the five-minute walk to the office. Five whole minutes! Was my face oily? Am I talking too much to avoid awkward silences? Am I making myself sound like an airhead trying to keep things light and fun? I went to college, why have I suddenly lost the ability to form a complete sentence aloud? Omigod, I haven’t even seen if he has a ring on or not! When did I regress to 15-years old?
I made it to my office (he held the door open for me. Eeee!), we parted ways, and I let out a huge sigh of relief. Ohhhhhh, so much awkwardness! Had I been holding my breath for the past five minutes? Does every guy here go snowboard in Tahoe? He does. He also has his MBA and I’m betting volunteers with ethnic lepers on the weekends. If he has a dog, I don’t know what I will do with myself. Where do these men come from?
For the first time in a long while, I’m enjoying being single and dating. With so many fascinating men to meet, who can blame me?
I spent my last weekend in Tanzania in Zanzibar. Zanzibar is actually a collection of a few small islands off the coast of Tanzania including Pemba. There are a few ways to get there from Moshi, with a flight being the fastest. There’s also the option of taking an 8+ hour ride on a dhow, but I wasn’t interested in a potential repeat of my seasickness bout in Pangani. A few hours after teaching my last class on a Thursday (tear), I boarded a Precision Air plane for the hour-long flight to the island. The plane was small and didn’t fit more than 80 people, most of whom were flying to Dar Es Salaam, or “Dar” as the residents refer to it, the unofficial capital of Tanzania.
My hotel, Sazani Beach Resort, arranged to have a taxi pick me up at the airport. When I walked out of the airport there was a cluster of rabid taxi drivers waiting for rideless victims. I found my driver, Fahroud, quietly waiting away from the group holding a sign with my name on it, saving me from the other Cujos foaming at the mouth for a fare. I was staying in Nungwi, a fisherpeople’s village in northern Zanzibar, about an hour from the airport on a mostly dark two-lane road flanked by lush vegetation.
J_ and K_’s trip to Zanzibar overlapped with mine by one night and they were also staying at Sazani. They’d flown in a few days earlier and planned to head out the next day to fly back home to the US. It was nice getting to see them one last time. J___ joined me for the dinner the hotel manager had set aside for me since I arrived after the kitchen closed: mashed potatoes, veggies and grilled fish.
The hotel cat, Mwezi, appeared from nowhere when the fish arrived. Mwezi is a grey & black short-haired tabby. She was either discovered on or born under a full moon. In Swahili her name means “moon.” Nikki, the manager, told us that since they don’t really do pets in Tanzania, she hasn’t found a place that sells cat food. So Mwezi, and the 4-month old puppy they recently took in, eat people food and whatever prey they find. I overestimated how hungry I was and they served me a huge plate of food, so I snuck Mwezi some of my fish. Bribing cats with food is the fastest way to their ambivalent little hearts.
The power cut out shortly after I arrived, an occurrence I’d grown accustomed to in Tanzania. “Oh the power’s out? Must be Thursday. Or 7am. Or 2012.” A generator backed up the common areas (and they are installing solar panels for sustainable energy; get with it USA), but the guest rooms were not included, so they gave me a lantern to walk around with. A real deal lantern! I felt like it was 1790 (minus the enslavement, oppression and asphyxiating corsets).
My picturesque, beach-themed room held a large four-poster bed dusted in hibiscus flowers. This is why I work hard: to occasionally spoil myself with romantic rooms for one. Sexytime for me and me. The shower had cold and hot water and both were working. Thank you, Jesus! I didn’t have to shower like a teenage boy fighting the damage done by thoughts of Samantha in the tight turtleneck at school.
The resort is right along on the ocean and my room was only tens of feet away, so I could hear the waves crashing. I thought that ocean sounds were supposed to be soothing to sleep to? I found it disconcerting and really loud! I kept waking up thinking it was raining really hard or that monkeys were beating the thatched-roof with their tiny fists. But, there are worse things in the world than being awakened by the Indian Ocean.
The next morning, I met up with K___ and J___ for breakfast. Our options were eggs in various forms, including omelets, as well as French toast (with jam, no syrup), toast, fruit (mango, papaya, banana, orange) and tea or coffee.
After breakfast, J___ and I strolled along the beach to check out some of the other resorts. He told me how different he felt the tourists were in Zanzibar compared Moshi or Arusha. It seemed to him that most of the tourists were monied Europeans who weren’t very friendly. So far, in my travels and residencies, I’ve yet to find people as effusively friendly as Southerners in the US. Whenever I go back to Texas to visit the fam, I am practically accosted by strangers trying to have conversations with me. Although, I must say that once you know a Tanzanian, they seem to welcome you as a member of their family. It makes for a wonderful sense of community.
I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of tourists I saw did not look like us. Rarely did I see a brown face. This is not where most locals can afford to vacation.
We discovered a large resort where J___ told me the rooms cost $3000 per night. I asked, “Do they come to your room, massage you, fluff you and hand feed you your food for that much?” Do they have State Farm powers? Could they conjure up Channing Tatum for me if I switch my car insurance? Good lord. I thought our resort (a “moderately” priced choice) was awesome; what more could there be? When we reached the resort, my eyes widened at the sight of a large Infinity pool. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t want to spend the money, but I wouldn’t mind staying there. Let me be a baller for a second. I read enough Us Weekly to know how to do it right.
In a crowd of people lounging on chairs, posing in and by the pool or strolling about, we were the only brown faces with exception of the staff. There were three attendants by the pool and one approached us curiously, as though we were lost. I know that look. It’s that, “You don’t look like you have the money to be here, homie,” look. We told him that we just wanted to look at the pool and see the hotel. He escorted us down a wooden bridge away from the hotel, to the restaurant and bar. We tried to get rid of him thanked him and he retreated to his station. The whole thing made me uncomfortable. It saddens me that in a country as beautiful and as rich in natural resources as Tanzania, the residents themselves don’t seem to get to enjoy it the way tourists do. It’s a luxury for many to even consider a vacation.
Based on previous experiences during my trip and conversations with others, it’s clear that there’s an assumption or even an expectation from some of the local population that white people, in general, are “wealthy” and black Tanzanians are not. Given I was quite often mistaken for Tanzanian or native of some other African country I can imagine that the staff members didn’t see me and immediately think, “American.” Though my “brazenly” parading around in a bikini top should have given some indication that I might be “different.” In addition to feeling disheartened, I felt a mild sense of guilt. Even though I’ve worked hard and struggled to get to where I am (not that I’m living a Jay/Bey lifestyle), it doesn’t keep me from feeling guilty that I “lucked into” some fortunate circumstances while others are not so fortunate. J___ and I quickly snapped a few photos and headed back to the welcoming arms of our resort. A couple of hours later, he and K__ departed and I was by myself.
I spent the afternoon drinking a beer, reading on my Kindle (“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks“, it’s awesome, read it!) and napping. I was awakened around 5pm by Bakar, the bartender, inquiring what I would like for dinner. Okay: they hold dinner for me, know and call me by my name, and personally come by to see what option I would choose for dinner – what the hell could be going on at that $3000 a night joint that’s even better? Red Bull and eightball shooters? Dancing llamas? I chose prawns for dinner.
One of the hotel staff, JK, offered to show me around Nungwi. I was grateful since I didn’t have transportation and hadn’t arranged for any excursions that day. We hopped in a Rav4 which led to me think,
Whachu think I rap for / to push a fuckin’ Rav4?
Ah, Kanye, thanks for that gem. What’s wrong with a Rav4 anyway, Kanye? Whatever. Yeezy sleeps on fur pillows and wears leather pants so much I’m concerned he may suffer from recurring yeast infections.
Apart from the resort signs dotting the sides of the roads, Nungwi seems mostly residential. I saw a lot of the same small shanty homes with laundry drying on clotheslines and the requisite goats goating around, eating trash and other goatly shenanigans. Resident were outside their homes chatting, farming, selling, braiding hair, cooking over open flames and other activities I’d grown used to seeing.
JK attempted to play tour guide while he drove. Though he was speaking English, between his accent and the use of Swahili sentence structure, I only understood a quarter of what he said. I did a lot of nodding, raising eyebrows and light chuckling when it seemed appropriate. I think it worked: I didn’t end up mistakenly married, deported or anything else that would qualify as the inspiration for a bad Lifetime movie.
Sazani Beach is on the eastern side of Nungwi and JK drove to the western side where the number of resorts increased three-, four-fold, as did the liveliness. This was definitely the more touristy, partier scene. Locals played football on the beach and surfed while tourists played volleyball or lay about in hammocks and straw chaises. Later, this scene would take on a different view for me given a conversation I had with someone in the know. on my return. This insider told me that she’s heard of older Italian women coming to Zanzibar to pick up on hot, young local men for their personal pleasure. Intriguing and scandalous behavior salacious enough for a beach novel.
On the West Coast of Nungwi, more heavily populated with resorts. Not pictured, but there were many locals on the beach playing a very spirited soccer game (or football as they refer to it).
Sunset on the West Coast of Nungwi, Zanzibar
I stopped at a little market to pick up my new favorite cider*, Savanna Dry. In the shop, I overheard two people talking. A girl asked, “What are we going to do tonight?” Her male friend answered, “Get high!” Their voices sounded familiar and sure enough they were the same young British kids I’d met three weeks ago on safari! We exchanged hellos.
I tried to explain to JK how I knew them. “I met them on safari.” “Yes, you’re on safari.” “NO, I met them ON a safari, we saw animals. Elephants, simbas [lions]…” He wrinkled his face with confusion. I dropped it. It was very “Who’s on First?” In Swahili “safari” means “trip” so it’s used to refer to vacations, not just animal tourism, which led to several confusing conversations while I was there.
We arrived back at Sazani shortly before dinner. I met the other four-legged resident, a 4-month old puppy, Joa Calle (I am butchering this spelling) which means “warrior” in Swahili. Joa is adorable, looks like a golden Labrador and was teething. He tried to nibble on everything: towels, rugs, my real-deal-from-the-Brazilian-headquarters Havianas… They were having a hard time finding suitable chew toys for him. Poor doggie in non-pet land.
I arrived during a slow season, so there weren’t many others staying at the resort. Later that evening a group of six people in their 40s and 50s arrived. I’m not quite sure how they knew each other. It seemed like they all knew at least one of the women, who I’d later find out is American, but has lived and worked in Tanzania for years. She seemed like the organizer. The group members were an international bunch with two being French, another man Australian, a couple of Brits and the American.
For dinner, they pre-set the tables according to party number. So, a party of two would have a table for two and the large party that arrived that afternoon, had a table set for six. Nikki, the manager, told me she’d be joining me for dinner. So sweet of her to keep me from dining alone. Small touches like this are why I prefer staying in smaller hotels and resorts rather than the giant mega-hotel chains.
Nikki is affable. During dinner I learned that she is from Ireland, in her early 40s and recently divorced with an adult child. She decided to take a year off from her teaching job to do something different and ended up managing the resort. Not a bad gig at all. She enjoys it, though it’s been challenging trying to run a staff that’s accustomed to working on Tanzanian time, which is to say: there is no rush to do anything. The pay is also drastically less. I told her a little about what led me to volunteer in Tanzania. I also shared that having met so many people who’d taken the plunge to either work or volunteer in Africa long-term inspired me to think about doing the same.
Our conversation eventually drifted to vacation time because she was amazed that I’d been in Tanzania for three weeks. Such things are unheard of for most Americans! “Work for yourself to the bone!” “Who has time to lay on the beach; time is money!” She said, “I don’t understand why Americans don’t fight and demand more time off.” I am not the American to ask. I work to live, not the other way around. I will say that it’s never occurred to me to try to change the system in that respect. I have just accepted that it’s the world Americans live in and if it really bothers me, I will move elsewhere. Or I will figure out how to retire by 45.
Mwezi showed up just as our prawns did. Nikki and I took turns feeding her the tails. My cats eat bougie,Whole Foods-like kitty dinners, so I worried about Mwezi’s nutrition. But, what could I do?
After dinner, I headed to bed to get a good night’s sleep as I had to wake up early the next morning to go snorkeling. So far, Zanzibar was working out just fine.
*Normally, I don’t drink cider. I’ve been conditioned to think of it as a “weak, girly drink.” I am not weak, nor girly (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and can handle my beer. But, damn, Savanna Dry is good and has higher alcohol content than many beers.
Where I walked during high tide
In front of my room at Sazani Beach
On the West Coast of Nungwi, more heavily populated with resorts. Not pictured, but there were many locals on the beach playing a very spirited soccer game (or football as they refer to it).
I'm Keisha ("Kee-shuh", not to be confused with Ke$ha). I am a (later) thirty-something, non-mommy, non-wife, who lives in San Francisco, California New York and has lots of opinions on lots of things.