Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mercury Rising

At breakfast, the clouds flirted with us, teasing that they just may drench us with rain to clear the air. If we showered with our clothes on, we could not be any wetter than we were. Oh, how I do love watching others struggle up those stairs to the breakfast rooftop patio. It does my heart good that it is not just me who finds this a sadistic morning challenge.

Concerned about shopping before the holidays, not knowing if that means a thing here, we went to the ATM machine. Now that we know the locations of five machines both working and none, we can make the trek to the farthest away in twenty minutes. The good old Barclays was not working again today, but there is no bank behind it to reason this out.  A security guard outside was kind enough tell us it had moved to the big market area. What is he  is securing without a bank is in question as is why they keep a small lobby air conditioned when the machine is non-functional. Another banking trick for keeping rates artificially high, perhaps.

The real Barclays accepted my euro account card without a hiccup and spit out lots of bills with multitudes of zeros on them. I could feel my shopping gene vibrate and twitter. Ron had other ideas, though. We stopped at the Anglican cathedral. It stands of the land that the last slave market was maintained. The altar is where the last slave auction took place before it was declared illegal. In the back is a heart wrenching art piece of slaves chained together with only their upper bodies fully sculpted. One of the people significant in the end of slavery was Dr. David Livingstone. In the church is a crucifix made of the wood from the tree that he died under here in Zanzibar. His heart was buried here, but the rest of his body was sent elsewhere for burial.

After a cold drink, we did make it shopping to buy the lounging pants I wanted, a t-shirt and two scarves as gifts. It was oppressively hot, so we were in slow, slow motion stopping yet again at the Serena Hotel for another cold drink before heading back to the room. The skies finally gave way and released its pent up tears, flooding the streets in a matter of twenty minutes. We allowed ourselves to get soaked briefly, but shop hopped the rest of the time. Then it dried up and became Finnish sauna steamy once again.

When we returned, Ron was looking at our reservation for this hotel and they have us down for a 'week', but checking out on January 1st, not the 2nd when our flight is. The reservations person will not be in until tomorrow, but we have another tour booked leaving at 8am. Something new to worry about.

For dinner, we went to Mercury's Restaurant named after Freddie Mercury of Queen fame. He was born here in Zanzibar, though the restaurant's only relation to him is his name. It sits on the beach with a marvelous view of the boats coming in, the children swimming and the young men doing acrobatics. We arrived at 6pm, but dinner service did not start until 7pm, but we were pleasantly entertained by the scenery on the beach in the meanwhile. The peddlers come by the railing selling their goods. Each has a more dramatic story than the last and I am certain parts of the stories are true. Who wants to set themselves up for rejection time and again, day after day if they had a choice. There has to be a limit of what you can buy though, so Tough Love has to set in.

To work off dinner, we walked through the park. It was mobbed with people eating. Knowing the salaries, I can only wonder how they can afford to live, let alone eat out.

One disjointed observation is about the children. It is not uncommon to see 3-5 year olds walking the streets alone or playing somewhere without an adult anywhere in sight. Often, we have seen children I would guess to be about 7-9 years old, holding other smaller children walking the streets or standing on the roadsides. 
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