(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Indian Ocean Part One

As usual, things are happening faster than I can post them. To catch up, I should dedicate this brief posting to my week in Zanzibar. It was for work so not a lot of interesting non-work things happened. I also didn’t have a chance to roam about the island due to my limited time and full schedule. Moreover, I needed to get back to Bujumbura for the weekend, pack a bag, pick up the family and head to the Seychelles. From one Indian Ocean island to another, with an out and back to the middle of the Africa in between.
A Zanzibar morning

I met up with several of my colleagues in the Nairobi airport and we occupied about half of the small plane. It’s a relatively short flight from Nairobi but we’d had a 7-hour layover. It made the day rather long altogether.
where we stayed

Getting out of the plane in the dark, humid night took me instantly back to living in Dar es Salaam. The smells and the feel in the air were very familiar to me. It was weird coming back. Not only had I been there several times while living in Tanzania, it was where I was married. I suppose I have a sentimental attachment to the place.
fishing at 6am

There was an air conditioned bus waiting to pick us up. The airport is the same as it always was though there is a new one under construction about a kilometer away. It will be nice but I know that I’ll miss the dingy charm of this airport. 
a dhow and a sunset

The drive to the hotel took about 45 minutes. The island was dark, as I remembered it. Some of the small shops had gas lamps out for their late evening clients. Every once in a while we’d pass a large, lighted building – most of them built since my last trip to the island in 2009.
best photo I've taken from an airplane window

We pulled into the hotel compound. Very nice place and I was happy to finally get there, check in and go to my room. They’d turned on the AC in advance so the room as nice and cool. I fired up my computer to check some emails before going to bed. I didn’t expect much since it was a Sunday night. Unfortunately I was wrong. A few hours earlier, while I was sipping on  a drink in the Nairobi airport, there was a massive landslide south of Bujumbura wiping out several hundred homes, a couple of schools, churches and health clinics. As if abject poverty and election tensions/insecurity were not enough… I would be up until 1am on the phone and on my computer tracking down staff back in Burundi to set up our response to support the victims. A sobering way to start my week.

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