Drops of Zanzibar

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(The reason I picked this song is because Zanzibar has a different bottling company than Arusha, as you can see above, and every morning I see our bottle of water and Drops of Jupiter gets stuck in my head for hours afterward.)

As I write this, I am sitting on a balcony in Zanzibar listening to the night’s call to prayer from at least five surrounding mosques in close vicinity.  There is something profoundly beautiful about this call that makes me stop to listen and be moved every time, though I myself am not of the Islamic faith.  But as a Christian whose faith is the core of my being and the foundation of who I am, I have a deep appreciation for a regular call to interrupt your day to remind you to, if nothing else, remember your Creator.

More on that later. Hopefully.

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The view from my balcony in the morning.

I deeply apologize for the lack of posts. I’m going to try and keep up in the next couple of days and post some extra stories for y’all. Since my last post, I was overwhelmed by homework, finals, moving from Arusha to Zanzibar, and what we believe to be either strep throat or tonsillitis. (I need a bumper sticker: “Ask me about my African medical clinic experience!”.  Much more interesting than those bragging that your child made honors in public middle school, in my opinion).

As I said, we recently moved from Arusha (near Mt. Kilimanjaro) to Zanzibar, a small island off of the coast of Tanzania. It’s radically different here, so much so that the local Zanzibaris are still bitter about the fact that they joined with Tanganyika to become Tanzania, and many feel as though they should be their own country.

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On our way to our host families.

One of those differences is that of religion. Tanzania itself is about 40% Christian and 40% Muslim. Zanzibar is 99% Muslim. I can see four mosques from where I’m sitting right now.

We arrived Saturday to our super nice host house (the American student renting the apartment that comprises of the third floor calls this house “the hulk”, because it is painted green, three stories, and very out of place surrounded by the one-story African-sized houses with rusty corrugated tin as their roof) to immediately be invited to a wedding. We said yes, of course, quickly changed, and then went off still sweaty and feeling nasty and tired, but excited nonetheless. In a word, I would describe the wedding as ostentatious. I’m thinking I’ll post an additional post straight from my field notes with more details about it, for those who are interested.

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The Zanzibari bride coming down the aisle

We are taking Swahili classes at the University of Zanzibar, aka SUZA, and are almost through our first week. (On a *cough* entirely unrelated note *cough*, I’ve definitely finished the 6th Harry Potter book on my kindle and am starting on Les Misérables. Fun fact.) Typically, classes are in the morning until about 1:30, at which point we all return to our houses to eat lunch, do homework, nap, and melt into a puddle because of the heat and humidity and conservative dress, and then we meet together at around 3:30 to explore Stonetown, shop, go to the beach , find wi-fi, or go on various adventures.

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One of the streets in Stonetown on our way back home

It’s official. I have fallen in love with Zanzibar (although why somewhere that’s 100 degrees everyday with high humidity is a popular honeymoon destination completely eludes me). It’s possible I’ll write a million different posts while I’m here and procrastinating homework, and it’s also possible that I’ll fill my time with my books and homework and have to wait for the handy little weekly email from wordpress telling me to get on top of things and post. And, for the sake of all of you, I’ll try to keep them short. You’re all more than welcome to email me or comment if you don’t have my email and ask for more details or, well, ask anything really. I’d love sharing my experiences with anyone who’ll listen.  Baadaye!

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