Pongwe. We decided to go with the “remote beach with turquoise waters” when booking a hostel on the east side of Zanzibar.
Lindsay: Why do you need to use the internet now? We’re going to a town.
Jimmie: Why do you need to buy fruit at the market? We’re going to a town.
We were both wrong. Pongwe consists of 2 hotels. A 200$/night hotel and a 30$/night hotel. The only difference is the material they use to build the walls on our charming thatched huts. There is no internet (unless you’re at the one computer at the 200$ hotel. Don’t even think about asking if you’re in the 30$ hotel). There are no fruit stands. The hotel menu consists of 5 items to choose from for dinner. Only one item will actually be available for dinner. The beach is turquoise. It is lovely and littered with the kind of shells people pay money to decorate tacky beach houses with. Overall, the choice was a good one (though it took some getting used to).
We stayed 2 days and probably didn’t put on shoes the entire time. I learned that if you don’t put sunscreen on right, you might as well not bother putting it on at all. Bad burn is better than splotchy, rash-looking burn. We read, ate whatever the “restaurant” brought us, and spent an entire night listening to bush babies attack our screen windows (they’re cute, but terrifying… like gremlins).
Our ride back (a 1$ dalla dalla, of course) had benches and open windows. It looked pleasant at first, but we quickly learned why the taxi driver warned us, “you will wait forever for bundles of sticks.” The first woman with bundles of sticks was cranky. None of the men would argue with her screams that about 100 bundles would fit on the roof. She was right, in the end. The final product was a dalla dalla with another dalla dalla-sized stack of wood on top of it. And a bike. And about 35 people in an open-air van built for 12. Plus a lovely 2-hours of glares, laughs, and yells about why the mzungu were taking up SO MUCH ROOM WITH THEIR BACKPACKS. HOW RIDICULOUS TO TAKE UP SO MUCH ROOM ON A DALLA DALLA.
Sticks are free.
We made it back, unscathed. Ate a giant meal of grilled seafood in the park (at what looked like an outdoor cooking competition, chef hats included).