Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Tanzanian Coast

As part of volunteering to be a teacher here, Hope International School pays for a monthly outing/excursion. This has become one of the best parts of being here - getting to see parts of Tanzania and its culture. Tanzania has such diversity in its different parts - in one area it will be so flat, dry and dusty, and in another green lush mountains pop out of the landscape.  So the driving is always interesting, even a long road trip like the drive to Tanga. It took us about 7 hours to get from Moshi to Pangani (a village) in Tanga. 
On the drive
I love all the sights in the small villages - people sitting out on the porches with each other, just visiting and staying cool in the shade, women carrying all kinds of things on their heads, the kids weaving through the homes, racing metal rings by pushing them with sticks. People are friendly, they'll wave and smile, and the kids especially always stop and shout their greetings. It always makes me wish I had an unlimited supply of little candies to toss to the kids as we pass.  They're so sweet. 

Friendly kids as we pass
Anyone want to stay at this "hotel"? I'll pass...
After many stops with our caravan, including plenty of middle-of-nowhere-bathroom experiences (seriously, I am now such a pro at peeing behind a bush, do you think I can put that on my resume?), we arrived at Peponi Beach Resort, outside of Pangani. Quiet place, very simple, but a great spot to relax by the beach! They had both bandas (bamboo rooms with fans and nets) and campsites. Some of our group stayed in the bandas, and we stayed in tents in the campsites.  The campsites were a mere 5000 shillings a night ($3.50), crazy! There is a restaurant and pool on the grounds, and hammocks all over the place. The beach was 30 feet from our campsite, and the water was warm and clear. The beach at low tide was even better - the tide recedes so far that you can wade on the sand for about half a mile out. The creatures and shells we saw were so fun.  And the water was a relief, as it was the hottest and most humid it's been yet here in Tanzania. At night even, it was easily 90 degrees outside and so humid. 

On the beach at low tide, you could walk out to this swampy grove of trees that was so cool to see. There were small popping sounds as bubbles from underneath made their way to the surface and popped in the wet sand. The ocean breeze blew through the leaves and it was such a unique combination to see leafy green trees growing in the sand with little waves lapping at the bases. 

The odd grove of beach trees, loved them!
One of the days we were at Peponi, we paid 17,000 shillings ($12) to go out on the little sailboat for a snorkeling trip.  Now the last boat trip I did was last year in Australia, visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Well let's compare the two - GBR: $185, extensive safety talk and regulations, long explanations on how to use the mask/snorkel/fins, marine biologist on board to explain all the sea creatures and why we don't touch the coral, ratio of 1 staff member to every 5 passengers. Peponi boat - $12, leaky sail boat in which one sailor was regularly bailing water out of the bottom, 30 passengers to 2 sailors, no safety talk, no life vests, we got to the coral area and they just dropped the anchor and said "karibuni!" ("welcome!").  Ahh I was cracking up at the differences! Truly an African experience.  But I loved it - the sail boat was really cool, a patched sail and some careful steering led us to a white sandbar, with beautiful clear water. The sandbar island is under the water most of the day, but at low tide, it makes its appearance, covered in sea stars and shells. We had our lunch picnic there, and everyone walked the entirety of the place, seeing all there was to see.  After lunch, we stopped one other place to snorkel around some coral.  After my GBR experience where I was sunburned worse than I ever have, I put on a tshirt and leggings to snorkel here! Everyone laughed, but at least I didn't burn!

The dhow took us to this sandbar island for lunch
If you look carefully, you can see my skin burning! =) 
Pepi, the sailboat 
On the sandbar, a crazy looking starfish
Snorkeling time
The trip to the coast was over too fast, and we made the long trek back. School began the next day and we are now back to our regular full-time routine!  I don't miss the heat at that beach, but I do wish we could have lunch on that sandbar island again!

No comments:

Post a Comment