I still don’t know how it happened.
One minute we were sitting in an almost-deserted Forodhani Gardens, sipping cold drinks, chatting with a charming local trying to sell us some colorful scarves and watching the boats bobbing lazily in the water, and Lulu ben was waving a cheerful goodbye to the Kenyan-Indian couples and the toddler, strolling off towards the ferry dock. We could see it from where we sat and were assured that the ferry WE were supposed to board to get back to Dar had not yet arrived, though it was getting closer to 4 pm….
The next minute we were jogging as fast as we could, with sinking hearts, towards the ferry dock!
The guy selling scarves jogged alongside Tina, keeping our morale up as we tried not to panic, but as we reached the dock where people were boarding ferries…….we realised ours had just left!
Tina and I were hot, a bit the worse for wear, and completely crestfallen. Our husbands were expecting us back from our day trip by evening, and it seemed from the frantic conversation Lulu ben was engrossed in with a porter that we could either take the midnight ferry (which would travel very slow and get us back to Dar around 6 am )…..or we could catch a plane.
The clouds had gathered, finally providing some respite from the glaring sun, but Tina and I trudged dejectedly behind Lulu ben, (both worrying about how irresponsible our husbands would think we were) back to the ferry office to try and get a refund at least, an exercise in futility. The office was closing and as we walked out of there, it suddenly started to pour…
Lulu ben was busy making phone calls under the shelter of a porch roof. As our guide, she felt responsible for getting us back to Dar without further ado….
The pouring rain turned out to be just a passing shower, and as we stood around waiting for instructions from a friend, it seemed like a great idea to have some more coconuts. A coconut seller with baskets heaped with tiny coconuts stood a little distance away, and Tina gestured to him to bring us a couple.
Once again, Tina managed to cast her spell, and by the time we’d had our fill of coconuts, the coconut seller had declared his love for her and asked her to marry him…
We walked away from there, Tina laughing heartily as the poor rejected suitor stared after us, and made our way back to the Old Dispensary, which also happened to house the ticketing office for the airline.
Tired, our arms aching from the weight of the things we had bought, including a couple of kilos of an interesting Tanzanian fruit which Lulu ben insisted I take home with me, we hailed a cab which sped us to the Old Dispensary, the driver keeping our things safe in the car while he waited for us to buy our tickets.
So our trip ended where it began…..the Old Dispensary.
It was funny how differently one feels at the beginning of an adventure compared to how one feels towards the end. Though it was an interesting twist in the storyline, nevertheless it was unsettling to have missed the ferry. On top of it, I felt bad for Tina that she didn’t get to have the beachy Zanzibar experience she had probably anticipated.
Tina and I being foreigners ended up paying twice as much for our tickets as Lulu ben, adding insult to injury. But our drive to the airport was pleasant and our cabbie was a decent, soft-spoken man, very polite and well-mannered, getting us there just in time for our flight.
I thought I must have looked frightful, my hair a mess, my face sunburnt, my white clothes stained brown with coconut water and some mysterious yellow blotches that appeared to have leaked from the bags of fruit I had been hugging to me as I ran…
All’s well that ends well though, and I suppose we would never have witnessed the beautiful seascape between Zanzibar and Dar es Salam from the air, a ride that took us all of twenty minutes. We reached Dar around the same time as we would have if we hadn’t missed the blasted ferry.
Ah well, at least I managed to buy four colourful scarves for 10000 shillings before missing the boat