Ah, Zanzibar. Here is my big moment to shine and write a vignette worthy of National Geographic Traveler magazine (my childhood dream job), but instead I am reduced to a handful of overused hyperboles: amazing, stunning, breathtaking, idyllic. I feel slightly angry with authors and commentators who have stolen these words from their rightful exalted place in the English language and used them to describe things like McDonald’s Happy Meals and suburban golf courses. Oh well. Necessity is the mother of invention:
I didn’t buy a single antique, but I sure had hours and hours of fun looking for that perfect piece that told of exotic adventures of bygone days. I had visions of finding the perfect Middle Eastern tile, or maybe piece of an old, ornate door frame. Oddly enough, I came away as satisfied as if I had spent my last penny.
It’s rare to meet a Dar native on the street who speaks English, even at the most basic level. Zejis speak it fairly well, and love to practice. Even better, they’re actually impressed that I know any Swahili at all instead of being irritated that I’m not fluent. I had SO much fun chatting it up with the locals! One of them even called me “mbongo” which is about the best compliment a twenty-something-year-old Tanzanian can give you. Yes!
Every night in a beautiful park next to the waterfront, Zenji entrepreneurs load up tables of fresh-from-the-water seafood and fire up the grills. We’re talking melt-in-your mouth lobster with the perfect hint of grill. In my opinion, this is the only way to eat dinner in Zanzibar. I literally closed my eyes in pure bliss with the first bite.
Okay, I didn’t make that up. It’s Swahili and it means gorgeous. Unfortunately, it also means “nice,” “fine,” “pretty,” “good,” and “beautiful.” I’m not sure why the language couldn’t get beyond one adjective in the fine arts department. Anyway, the crystal-azure color of the water set by the calm pink and purple undertones of the setting sun every night was absolutely breathtaking. Of course, the company wasn’t too bad either.
Good Friends and Good Conversation
(I’m not Shakespeare. I give up.) Justin and Aimee Maier moved to Nairobi, Kenya around the same time I moved to Dar, and it was a huge blessing to be able to spend our time in Zanzibar with them. Their ministries are absolutely fascinating and global, and I will write more about them as soon as I get permission. What a balm to the soul to be with my sister-friend in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
On a serious note, this is an island in desperate need of prayer, as 95% of these endearing Zenjis are Muslim. There are some active churches, but I hear these are very small, and it is difficult to be a Christian in this environment. Please pray for Young Life missionaries as they run their sports camps here and tell about the Savior to these kids, who have probably never heard it before. Pray for the church to be strengthened. Pray for the love of Christ to be shed abroad in the hearts of these people, and their voices would be added to the chorus of the nations in praise to the Living God!