Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Zanzibar: Dolphin Time!

The sky was turning a pale shade of gray as we drove up to the small village of Kizimkazi. Our driver stopped the car and as we emerged several local men ushered us to some beams of wood that held snorkel equipment of various shapes and sizes. One man thrust a grungy pair of goggles and snorkel at me. “No,” I said adamantly and pointed to the black mold growing inside the mouthpiece. “Here,” he shoved another at me. “Fine,” I said. At least I couldn’t see all the bacteria lurking inside on this one. The other people in our group got their things and we were shown to a boy who motioned for us to start walking out into the shallow bay.

Kizimkazi Bay in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Unfortunately not the shadiest dive rental store I encountered in Zanzibar

“I’m not liking this,” I complained to Kent as I trudged through the water jumping to avoid the small blue Portuguese man o' wars that were waiting to bite my toes. We arrived at the rickety dhow right as the rain and wind were starting to pick up. I was definitely regretting my decision to bring my nice camera on this excursion but luckily the second mate grabbed my bag and stuffed it under a plastic tarp. "That won't help us if we capsize," I thought to myself as the captain engaged the motor and began to maneuver the dhow out of the relative safety of the bay and into the open water. 

Kent helping to carry the gear as I have a nervous breakdown about jellyfish 

Our captain, who looked no older than 20, instructed us to put on our fins and snorkel gear and jump into the water as soon as he said “Go!” "No way in hell am I blindly following this guy’s instructions," I whispered to Kent skeptically as the boat bobbed up and down over the waves. However moments later we caught up to 2 or 3 different boats filled with people and I saw the first glimpse of dolphin fins peaking in and out of the water. 

Our crew

“JUMP!” the captain yelled. Flustered, I began to assemble my equipment and several minutes later jumped into the water just in time to see in the distance the fins of the dolphins quickly swimming away from me. I waited for the boat to circle back around and dejectedly crawled back onto it. “Now you believe me?” the captain smirked as we drove off in another direction. 

The next time I was ready when we spotted the magical dolphin fins in the distance. “GO!” I hurled myself over the side of the boat and began swimming like I did when I was 12 and desperate not to come in 6th place in the 50 freestyle. I looked around me and was amazed to be surrounded by at least 30 beautiful, muscular, light gray dolphins.  I was so close that I could have touched their strong bodies and frankly, I was surprised that they hadn't smacked me in the head as I tried my hardest to keep up with them. I couldn't see Kent or any of the other divers. It was just me and my pod of dolphins. I didn’t care what direction I was swimming in or the fact that I was in the middle of the East African Ocean on a shady boat with a teenage crew. It was just such an amazing experience to see these wonderful creatures up close playing around with the silly humans who kept haphazardly throwing themselves into the water. 

Kent on the hunt!

No comments:

Post a Comment