Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dolphins to Monkeys

Being punctual, we were sitting outside waiting for our tour guide to show up at 8am as they told us he would, but at 8:2o, he finally showed, and took us to the van. There 2 Norwegian young woman were being roasted alive waiting for us. After he had us captive, the guide took off again by foot into the streets once again, leaving all four of us to prematurely experience what hell must be like. Getting out of the van was not a option; there was no shade to hide under. The driver returned alone, drove off and picked up 2 others at yet another hotel, followed by 2 more from where we started. I wonder if they were not ready when he went initially to get them, so we had to make a return trip.

Along the route to the beach, our guide and driver stopped at the outdoor market, at a car parts place, and some roadside stands, all for unknown reasons. We all suspected he was doing his weekly shopping or running errands for extra money. We didn't get to the beach where our boat was waiting until 10:30. For those of us who were going snorkeling, they fitted them with fins and a mask. I had no intention of going in the water. Little did I realize at the time I had no choice.

All of the dhows, the boats they use, looked lovely as they floated out at sea during low tide; however, I had no idea how they were going to get us out to one of them. Thankfully, I did not wear jeans today, because we had to walk to the boat. Yes, we walked about the length of six blocks wading through the water to the frick'in boat. The other nugget we had not been warned about was that you cannot go barefoot through the water due to sea urchins and coral that will slice your feet open. I had on my Crocs sandals, Ron his Birkenstocks (is water good for leather?), but the others were not all so lucky. The couple from Uganda actually did go barefoot rather than ruin their good footwear. It took them twice the time to reach the boat as the rest of us. Mountainous lumps of coral, hardened over the ages were treacherous to walk over, causing each couple to work as a team in stabilizing each other to make it safely, or  cameras were going to become floaters. By the time we reached the boat, the water was up to my knees, approaching my thighs. Since I am taller than most of the others, they were practically wading.
Basically, the Lonely Planet book had it correct, Frommer's forgive me. A number of dhows chase after the dolphins and stalk them like suspects in a murder mystery. Really, I felt like we were on a wet version of a fox hunt. Dolphins were the foxes, dhows were the dogs chasing them down, and those of us diving in after them were the hunters. Dolphins being intelligent, love this game of hide and seek and can dive deep and reemerge a distance away. The way the next 2 hours went were like this. Dolphins were spotted, never more than 4 and probably the same 4 the entire time, what would we know? All boats would rush over to where they were swimming, all divers would jump in the water to catch a glimpse, the dolphins would freak out, and swim away. Divers would climb back in the boat. Repeat scenerio. Repeat scenerio. Repeat scenerio. 

At the last attempt to witness dolphin majesty, the 2 Norwegian, the 2 Brits, and Ron started feeling something strange. Jellyfish were stinging them. Each of them had burning little red bumps, Ron the least, but he did pull out a bit of a barb from one. No one became ill, just uncomfortable for an hour or so. That was the end of the good will hunting for dolphins.

Back to shore, the tide came in a bit, so the water was higher, meaning the boat could get 2 blocks closer to shore then when we went out. Soaking wet, we went to a lunch spot on the site, included in the fee. Ah, the fee for the tour was a topic of conversation. The Uganda couple paid $30 each for theirs, the Brits paid $50 each, the Norwegian and we paid $40 each. The Brits fee did not even include the Jungle tour, which ours did. The Ugandans thought they were paid up for seeing the monkeys and the Norwegians were clueless about the second part of the tour.

When the guide came and said "Are we ready to see the monkeys?" everyone said sure, thinking we were all going to get this extra. When we arrived, he announced we were the only ones paid up and the others would have to pay 10,000 shilling a piece to go forth. The Brits joined up, the rest stayed behind. We were issued umbrellas being the rain forest, following the local guide, a sweet young man, like little ducklings. He pointed out red mahogony, regular mahogony, different plants, insects, and even a fresh water crab. We were all hot, humid, sticky from traipsing through the Indian Ocean twice getting to and from our boat, all we wanted was to see the famous Red Colabus monkeys. This is the only place in the world where they exist. Our guide was reciting things like he had learned them for the school play, so we felt horrible when we pushed him along. One question lead to detailed responses, prolonging the experience. We all learned not to ask more questions. Finally, we had to say "Just show us the monnnkey." At that, he walked us back to our van. We thought we missed out for bad behavior; no monkeys for us. Instead, we had to walk down the dirt road we drove in on and to the forest across the street. This is where it gets fun.

Ron being the eternal social worker, tells the two Norwegian girls to follow us across the street, since we have left the paid area. The guide, the two Brits, and I are up ahead and almost to the monkey habitat. The guide turns around and sees two intruders and asks them where their tickets are, when Ron pipes up "They are with me" like that should hold some authority. Unless they could produce tickets, the guide refused to take another step, so no one was going to see the monkeys. I told Ron more than once when I was a kid, I loved reading Ann Landers, the advice columnist. My favorite answer she would provide to writers is M.Y.O.B. Mind Your Own Business. He just refuses to follow the advice. You get him on a van with 6 others and he is trying to orchestrate everyone's life. He thinks he is a combination of social worker, cruise director, entertainment director, and guest relations all in one. Finally, finally, we were able to see the monkeys. Adorable! Now, I can say I saw the monkeys that only exist in Zanzibar. My life is complete now.

When we reached the hotel, I literally showered with my cotton safari pants on. It was the best way to get them washed and get the salt water out of them at the same time. Then, I soaked them in more laundry detergent along with my t-shirt and showered myself yet again. 

Later this evening, we went to The Spice Road Restaurant for dinner. We went first to the Archipelago Restaurant, but it is Halal (Muslim law), so no alcohol is served, including beer. Ron suggested I go over to the Monsoon Restaurant, buy a couple of beers and meet him at the Archiplago Restaurant, but when the waiter wanted to know why I did not want the bottles opened, he refused to sell them to me. Aside from the beer, the menu was not inviting for me since it was mostly fish, making the beer a moot issue.

When we went into The Spice Road Restaurant, there was 1 other diner in the whole place. Hoping this was not a sign, we allowed ourselves to be seated. By the time we left, they were turning people away, not free tables.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Pin It Now!


Post a Comment