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Zzzzzzzanzibar!
Tuesday 18
th October 2011

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Happy 25th wedding anniversary!!!

With a really good night's sleep behind us we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. Julie felt a lot better thankfully. (Those voodoo Panadols must have done the trick in the end!) We lay there wondering what to do. It was only 6:00am.

We remembered the sheer joy of walking along the deserted beach on Sunday morning and jumped out of bed to repeat the experience.

Strolling hand in hand Northwards up the coast with the warm sea breeze in our hair and our feet sinking into the moist sand was just the best feeling in the world.

It was quite a powerful emotion looking back and seeing only our footprints in the sand. We've come a long way side by side. Twenty five years ago when we got married we would only have dreamt of a honeymoon on a tropical beach in the Indian Ocean. This really was a dream come true.

A little further up we came across a reed hut with several Tingatinga style paintings already outside. There was no one there however.

"They must have left them all out overnight" said Detective Inspector Colin Clouseu.

The sign on the palm tree made us laugh. It said "Welcome to Kim Art. Probably the best artist on the beach. Karibu (welcome)".

Another sign that looked like a dugout surfboard had written on it several tours that they could organize. I bet they would have been cheaper!

We walked on past the Water Club which didn't hold any interest for us as I can't swim and Julie's not into extreme sports! Neither of us are likely to want to be pulled along by a speed boat whilst sitting on an inflatable banana (or take part in any other more serious watersport). Although I should really learn to swim. It may just save my life one day.

In no time we reached a resort called Breezes Beach Club and Spa. Despite its fancy name we preferred the look of our own resort. The rather unwelcoming keep out sign of "Entrance is reserved for hotel guests only" didn't help.

We turned around at this point and headed back towards Echo Beach.

For some reason we tried to match our steps on the way back by only stepping inside our previous footprints. I don't know why? It didn't last for long. We soon realised it was a silly idea, a bit like not stepping on the cracks!

Ours weren't the only footprints in the sand either. There were also little birds feet prints sprinkled around like stars. A small flock of little terns had landed. They were busy trying to eat some delicacy on the tide line.

It was funny to watch them run in unison from the incoming wave as not to get their feet wet and then run back again. It was like a choreographed dance.

It was 7am when we got back to our resort.

We weren't ready for breakfast just yet, but we did ask for some coffee to be delivered to our room. It arrived on a silver tray with delicate china cups and we sat outside on our balcony enjoying the tranquillity.

A few hours later we decided it was time for breakfast and walked down to the main hut. I had two poached eggs on toast. They had the palest of yolks but tasted just fine. Julie had bacon on toast. It wasn't quite the bacon butty she was craving but close enough.

Fed and watered we moved ourselves to the loungers.

The day was becoming rather warm as we sat in the shade working up a sweat sitting still. The cooling sea breeze had all but gone. An hour past.

Bored I started drawing pictures in the sand, wiping them clean and starting all over again. I was like a kid with a giant Etch-a-sketch.

My favourite work was entitled "my heart filled coconut causing ripples".

It didn't take long before I was bored of that as well so we got up and went for a walk amongst the reef. This time we had come prepared with our wet shoes.

We walked out together wading ankle deep looking intently at the ground to avoid the sea urchins and their poisonous pins.

Other than clumps of sea weed, packs of sea urchins and some dull grey coral there wasn't much else to excite us in the reef.

The locals however clearly knew where to look as an industry of ladies were filling buckets with crabs and fishermen were busy harpooning octopi. Our untrained eye just wasn't up to the task.

Then from nowhere a fisherman appeared. We had our heads down scouring the sea bed for so long we hadn't noticed him.

He stood there with his spear and waved. We waved back. That was his green light to approach us.

"Jambo" he said. "... you like a reef tour?"

With a knife tucked into his shorts and a spear in his hand Julie was reluctant but I answered "Yes". Filled with apprehension she decided not to join us and made her way back to shore as I went off with the fisherman.

He introduced himself as Hassan and we agreed a price of $5 for his guided tour. "I will make you happy" he promised.

Within seconds he pointed to a large grey object which was vaguely star shaped. It wasn't that impressive but he picked it up anyway for a closer inspection.

Its shape was more pentagon than star and was more cushion shaped. It didn't look anything special until he turned it over to reveal a bright pink underbelly.

He placed it back gently where he found it and we moved on in search of more marine life.

Another grey shape soon caught his eye. He reached into the water to pick it up. I would never have spotted it and even if I had I would never have picked it up. To be honest with you it looked like a dog turd!

The long lump was in fact a sea cucumber. I'd not seen one before. What a strange creature it was.

Hassan then got me to stroke his sea cucumber and it ejaculated this toxic yellow-green stuff up his arm. I felt a little awkward.

It was hastily tossed back into the water as he wiped off the gunk.

Moving swiftly on we next came across possibly the most stunning starfish I'm ever likely to see, the red-knobbed starfish.

No, I'm not making that up, it is called the red-knobbed starfish (because it was covered in red knobs). It is also known as an African Sea Star but that's not as funny!

It had a grey base colour with symmetrical almost a cob-web pattern in dark red spanning from it's centre and down its five arms along which red horns (or knobs) stuck out.

Once again Hassan got me to touch the five armed creature. It felt strange, almost plastic which was quite a surprise. The red spikes were hard calcinated knobs.

A few steps away and another striking starfish was scooped up and held up for close inspection.

It was a beautiful deep purple, almost black, with orange spikes all over. I've tried to identify it but have not been successful so far.

Hassan and I chatted for a while. He asked me where I was from and then which football team I supported. "I follow Chelsea" he said "and I like Didier Drogba"

He told me that they often use starfish as bait to catch fish. They remove them from the sea and after three days they will have died. They then return it to the sea where its decomposing body attracts the fish.

"You happy now?" he asked "Without me you would not know. Now you are happy!"

That was my queue to thank him and pay up. I had no money on me so I had to wade back to shore, wave to Julie, run over to our room, get $5 plus and extra $1, run back to the beach and wade back out to him.

He seemed happy with his lot and off he went looking for an octopus for his supper.

It didn't seem that long ago we were having breakfast but we were now ready for lunch.

I had and aubergine and feta salad which was absolutely delicious. It was a stack layered with marinated grilled aubergine, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, topped with a blob of soft sheep cheese (it was very hot today which probably explains the dollop and not neatly cubed feta!) and finished with another slice of aubergine.

I was so engrossed in my meal I actually don't remember what Julie had. I know we both washed it all down with an ice cold bottle of Kilimanjaro beer!

Back to the loungers we went. This time we had company as the little scamp Ashkari followed us. He was such a cute pup. Then, not to be left out Umbaya the Great Dane joined us.

We sat there with our adopted pack basking in the sunshine, watching the beach life play out in front of us. Drifting in and out of sleep we both jumped out of our skins when we heard a very loud thud behind us.

"Bloody hell!" I said "A coconut has just dropped from the tree!"

Thud ! "Oh my God! There's another one!" said Julie.

We looked up and there, right at the very top of the tree, was someone prising the coconuts free.

He came down the vertical pole with such effortlessness it was amazing to watch. Moving on to the next tree he climbed it with equal ease.

He had string holding his ankles close and with interlocked fingers for a tighter grip he hugged the tree and leapt a few feet up. He then hauled himself up the rest of the way.

Not only would you need great agility but incredible strength to do that. I wasn't even going to go there. Instead I rolled over on my hammock-style lounger and went back to sleep.

A few hours later we had a bottle of South African sparkling wine brought to the beach.

We toasted the last twenty five years and to the next twenty five years of love, joy and happiness.

The ice bucket did a good job of keeping it chilled although it didn't have to last long before the fizz was quaffed.

I didn't think it was possible but I felt even lazier after sharing the wine. We just didn't feel like moving one bit and stayed on the loungers until it got dark!

Being on the East coast it wasn't the best beach for sunsets as it was all occurring behind us. I kept turning around every now and again to try and catch a spectacular red glowing sky but none materialised.

The sun seemed to drop very suddenly. The sky went from day to night as if someone had switched off the lights.

We didn't want our time on the beach to end and went for a walk beneath the stars. It wasn't as romantic as it seemed as somewhere in the darkness we could make out hundreds of crabs scurrying around. It was like walking barefooted and blindfolded through a room filled with mousetraps. We left before we lost a toe!

Its strange how doing nothing makes you tired. I suppose drinking in the afternoon didn't help but by the time we got to our room we were utterly pooped. We struggled to the balcony and slumped into the chairs. We almost let the lethargy take us to the land of Zzzzzzz but we had a hot date tonight. It was our anniversary meal!

So a cold shower was in order.

Dressed in our tropical best we made our way to the main hut.

I was excited to see on the menu a local dish described as a "Swahili Curry". I didn't question it's authenticity. I'm sure it wasn't just something they had made up with the left over vegetables.

It was peas, carrots and potatoes in a mildly spiced tomato gravy. It was so nice I could have eaten another bowlful.

Julie had Changu, another fish she'd never tried before. It's also known as a white snapper which doesn't sound half as exotic.

We both had room for pudding and we chose the Crepe Suzette. They weren't the tastiest pancakes we'd ever had but Julie thanked Andrew (the chef/owner) as he collected our plates. His reply left us gobsmacked!

He said and I quote "So you should. I made them especially for you!" I don't think his intention was to be rude. It was such a Basil Fawlty moment that we couldn't help but laugh. "Did he just say that?!?!?"

These pancakes were our first desserts at Echo Beach. The irony of which was only apparent when we were leaving our table and Andrew appeared. "Hey, where are you going? Get back to your table" he said ushering back before a procession of staff singing in Swahili carried over a cake made especially for us.

It was such a sweet thought but I have to say the cake was a real shocker!

The dense heavy sponge was wrapped by a loosely fitting layer of pale blue icing looked like it had been dropped! It was surrounded by cream and pale pink icing piped neatly to begin with but becoming increasingly erratic as they moved anti-clockwise.

On the top were the words "HAPPY ANNIvsry" because they ran out of space, piped in pale brown icing. They were obviously embarrassed by it as they topped it with three large flowers in attempt to hide the car crash cake beneath the pretty petals.

It was the most abysmal and comical attempt at a cake we'd seen since Julie made Liz, (a good friend) a birthday cake creating the name out of smarties. Julie and I couldn't stop laughing. I think (I hope) Andrew took it in good spirit.

Buoyed by the frivolity we got a second wind and moved to the lounge area for a few cocktails. A couple of hours went by in a flash. I don't remember when we got back to our room but I do remember getting tangled in the mosquito next when trying to climb into bed. We both slept soundly.

Next day >>>

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