Friday, 27 May 2011

Beware of the Tourist

Bank Holiday May is all about rain, umbrellas, sleeping in, and the hope that the trains will be quiet since Londoners are all in Marbella (I don't think so), St Tropez and Devon, but you forget about the flocks of tourists who flood through Heathrow, talking loudly on the train in foreign languages (the langauge part I actually enjoy), blocking the doors, distracting you from the plot of your book and intriguing you with their particular sense of fashion and hair colours!

If like me, you are not going away this weekend, stay away form the following places;

Knightsbridge (at least until 9pm), Hyde Park is a safe place as long as you stay away from the serpentine, Piccadilly is a no go area, Oxford street is forbidden for any proud Londoner, don’t be seen wearing a double denim number walking down China town either, if you have been misguided and end up in any of the places cited above, take care, carry an umbrella, walk at a fast pace, do give dirty looks to any tourist approaching with a map, cross the road if you see herds of Italian or Spanish students on a “spring break” sporting base camp Everest gear, it is London not the Himalayas.

East London is safe for Londoners, South Bank is at your own peril, tourists with large backpacks, who think live statues are AWESOME, take several pictures and then bugger off without paying...I don’t much care for cheap tourists.

These same tourists who get on the tube with their backpacks and fidget like a goat in heat, giving you blood pressure and a few bruises, later on at the station exit, they will stand at the barrier holding their paper tickets and deciding amongst themselves which way it should go and then wait until the barrier is closed to slide the ticket in the machine, BEEEEEP, seek assistance, Oh my god, I think I am going to die!

You think Boris bikes are a local thing, think again, all the tourists are on the know now, there isn’t one bike free in the whole of West London, the only thing that gives me some atonement is the fact they all think it costs a £1 for the whole day, so they keep it with them, only to find the bill from Boris when they get home.

If by miracle, it doesn’t rain this weekend (it will rain of course), but if it doesn’t and you are in the park sunning yourself, you can play “spot the American”, some massive generalisations pointers;
The khaki explorer outfit consisting of the shorts and matching tucked in shirt, did you come to eat steak or excavate in Trafalgar square?, white running shoes with white socks, or the couple with matching rain jackets, and a big a*s SLR camera dangling on their supersized guts.

If like me you can’t take the pressure and you understand that London needs its tourists (not the cheap ones) and because of the obligatory tolerance we Londoners have to show, I prefer to stay at home, of course if you do go away this weekend, feel free to subject the locals to the same touristic stereotypical behaviours they so kindly bestow upon us.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Dull Thursday

Inspiration eludes me, I feel jaded, I try to write but nothing remotely inspired or funny comes out, I hate my keyboard, it’s filthy, I spend a good 20 mins cleaning it with one of those air-spray thingies, it gives me frost bite, I can’t sepll, I have to use a spellchecker, I debate with my colleague on how to spell warehouse, I tell her she is a vacuous blonde, she laughs…see??

A videoconference meeting at 3pm, I refuse to attend, I prefer to dial in because I have a suave voice and I somehow look fat on screen, apparently the camera adds at least 2 kg on you, 5kg with bad quality cameras like the ones we have here, so I dial in and don’t listen to the call.

PMS is getting much better, since I have been taking those Magnesium supplements, soon I will be able to control metal like Magneto and rule the world.

Weight is under control, love life deserted, work eeeehhhhh
I want to go home (Algeria) and eat temina with my dad, and explain to my worried mum who is too scared to tell me she wants to see me happily married, that if there was a man, I would be with him, but alas, I seem to drive them away, must be that curse! Have to do something about that.

I try to reassure my mother: a woman needs a man like a shark needs vegetables, I stop and wait for her to understand, she laughs nervously, and then I withdraw my statement and explain that I was joking and that I want a man in my life like I want many other things, e.g. a Porsche, but what wants doesn’t get, apparently I have to need the man to find him. Frankly who has the time!

Glad it’s raining today, a good excuse to go home (London home), sit on sofa, watch CSI, make some long distance phone calls and eat chocolate.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Springs aromas are here, waking up to the smells of spring, incessant sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, blocked sinus, cherry blossom and daffodils sprinkled parks.

The English countryside is one of a kind, green pastures, wet grass that shimmers under the May sun, triggers your childhood memories with all its fragrances.

Jasmine flowers dangling from the garden wall, I used to rub on my neck and hands like a perfume and spend the day drenched in its tender smell, the mimosa flowers I used to pick and mix with water to produce a perfume I would offer to my mum as a present, she would smile beamingly and display it in the cabinet proudly or perhaps it was to just humour me.

Sleeping on the grass, watching the sky, letting ladybirds fly around me and land on my arms, pick roses from the bushes to take to my mum who would arrange them on her favourite vase displayed in the middle of the table, waking up to the sound of the water fountain running in the garden and the sound of children playing in the street, riding my bike, falling on the tarmac and scraping my knees, crying, laughing, screaming with laughter and sadness, the first day of school after the summer holidays, my childhood friends...

My dad surprise pick us up from school in his Land-Rover and all the kids who would climb in the back of the truck (safety was not even an issue), spending the day at the Pépinière with a picnic of pain-perdu (1) and ready mixed café au lait in a thermos, sitting under a very large tree I believed it to be a centenarian, my dad would tell us the tale of “Loundja bent el ghoul(2) over and over and over again.

Nowadays I fantasise about the Algerian sun, the majestic Sahara and its proud sand dunes, glorious sun sets and undisputable beauty.

Family gatherings and my mothers afternoon cakes she seems to concoct in under a minute, my father closing the windows when I start laughing because the neighbours will hear me laugh like a hyena and the smell of Sardine and fresh fish the fishermen lay on the street market, the smells of wet sand when it rains in the Sahara.

Algeria, Algeria, Algeria, the land of my childhood, my birth and my ancestors, Algeria such a mystic, beautiful country, our bond with Algeria is so intense and particular that it deserves its own name, Nostalegria(3). This yearning for Algeria that overpowers you; covers you with goose bumps, this pleasurable emotion that takes over all your senses, makes you feel paralyzed with yearning for something you cannot explain.

Certain smells, sounds, areas and even times of days instantly fill the ether with nostalgeria, when you walk down the street in Ramadan and smell the Algerian sweets and the fresh coriander or the shelves full of Hamoud boualem(4), when you are somewhere and they appropriately play “ya rayah(5) or a certain tune by Khaled like “Wahran Wahran”, when you watch the news and hear of devastations or celebrations, when it’s a nice quiet afternoon, mild temperature and covered skies, it makes me think of home, closing the blinds in the living room and sitting under a duvet to watch a movie with my mother, my father complaining about the noise and about disrupting his nap but refusing to go to his room because he would still prefer to be with us but would not admit to it.

When you feel despair, you want go home, when you are happy you want to home, going home, the one question that remains floating unanswered, you long to go home, you wish you could, you wish it would be just like London or Paris or whatever you are currently living so you could go home and continue leading the same lifestyle and enjoy the same freedoms, you wish it was a place that made you immensely proud, albeit Algerians are extremely proud of their mere patrie, devastated, ravaged or war torn, but knowing that it is a far reached dream, we remain nostalgic living with the myth of no return.
(1) french toast - yummm
(2) Loundja daughter of the ghoul
(3) a term created by Jacques Derrida, to describe his nostalgia for Algeria, where he was born
(4) award wining Algerian lemonade/soft drink
(5) a Chaabi song by Dahmen Al Harachi

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Blame it on witchcraft

I will never tire of hearing, “how come you’re still single” and the likes…”what’s wrong with you that you’re not married”  I never know how to answer these questions, usually I just shrug and say I don’t know whilst trying to suppress the urge to scream Mind your own business.

I have had many answers and theories as to my predicament, mostly focused on the fact that I am an independent Muslim girl living abroad alone...etc but recently I have had a new theory proposed to me, so profound it’s a completely different kettle of poisson; “Dz-chick, there was a curse put on you years and years ago, your future lies in your past, both in a knot that needs to be undone for you to go on being married or having children, your life is on standby”
No Sh*t Sherlock!

I guess I can stop worrying now, I have located the problem and according to the hippie with the sixth sense and multiple earrings who stopped me on the street to foretell my predicament, before I ran away from him with my hands on my ears singing NANANANANANNANAAAA to stop me hearing what he has to say, it was witchcraft or evil eye or something that probably comes in a jar from Africa; What do I believe? As Truman Capote said “It is the want to know the end that makes us believe in God, or witchcraft, believe, at least in something.”

I guess it’s nice to be able to blame everything on something or someone; everything that is not right in my life is not a systematic consequence of my own decisions but evidently due to some evil curse that was put on me.  What a relief that I can now blame witchcraft for my misfortune, the kilos I put on and for the friends I lost, for all the problems I faced, for the failures I suffered and of course everything positive I have myself and god to thank for. Hmmmm sceptical I am.

This is such an uncomfortable subject; you want to believe but you cannot bring yourself to do it, so instead you think of Harry Potter, he’s a wizard, Sabrina the teenage witch or of Samantha the nose-crinkling beloved witch, or the sexy 3 white charmed sisters living in LA; these are the positive aspects of witchcraft and wizardry the media portrays and then there is the old stereotypes of the old, ugly and green-faced women, wart-nosed, flying on a broom up to evil tricks, there is also the witchdoctor from Africa dancing around a flame in a ritual that involves a chicken and a sacrifice, feathers flying in the air and an incessant trance-like scream that scares the “patient” better.

In Algeria, we have a different visual when it comes to witchcraft and its perpetrators; we hear so many stories growing up, of old women visiting the cemetery at night presumably to use the dead in their macabre practices, witches, it would seem not green faced but may be wart-ridden, of old and young women visiting the marabout to give offerings and seek fortune and news from the past and the future and of the people who urge you to believe because it was referenced in the Quran.

Algerians grow up hearing stories of people who were harmed by the evil eye and the works of charlatans and S’hour (black magic), how they ought to protect themselves from evil, the evil eye and the envious souls, by reciting certain parts of the Quran, namely Ayat (Psalm) “Al koursi”, some people wear the hand of Fatima as an amulet, displayed in a frame in their houses, stickers on their cars or as a pendant on their new born babies to ward off evil eye, of course the baby will never choke on it and if that was to happen, it would be none other than the work of evil eye.

People protect themselves by withholding their success stories, good news and good fortunes for fear of suffering the evil eye which radiates from jealousy and envy, which will then manifest itself through failure, material damage (accidents, fire etc) or bodily harm and health problems, As a result Algerian people took to the habit of doing things as discreetly as possible and keeping good news hushed such as marriages, travels, projects, pregnancies etc
Are you pregnant? No I am just bloated how dare you say that? Six months later, she’s walking around with a pram and you are the one who was out of order.

Black magic  however, remains more of a taboo subject that people tend to brush off as a heretic and irrational belief, when one hears of black magic, one tends to think of Africa, or Haiti and its Voodoo and other cultures such as ancient pagan rituals.
Africans have always been known for their common practice of black magic, as a healing practice, for vengeance or for obtaining riches and fame, it has also been linked to football games and international tournaments, many games were thought to have been rigged with “gris-gris” and charms explaining therefore the lousy performance of the players or low fitness and ultimately the defeat.

This is an interesting blog I stumbled upon when doing some research on the subject, in which the author tries to explain the inexplicable results of the Algerian vs. England game during the World Cup; he believes the Algerians resorted to black magic despite the result of the game

Do I blame my misfortunes on evil eye and witchcraft as the hippie suggested and be like the Disney princess who swallowed the hexed apple the dark witch gave her, or do I and the princess wake up, spit out the apple, stop procrastinating and trying to blame someone else for our dilemmas and just get on with it.
I think I will choose the latter and instead of crying about my misfortunes and shifting the blame onto someone or something else, I will focus my energy on bettering myself and moving forward inchallah.

Friday, 13 May 2011

SlutWalk.....Because I am not!

Ladies, get your bras and knickers and get ready to march on the streets of London, this June 18th for the Slutwalk movement, that has made its way across the pond from Toronto.

This quasi-feminist uprising has risen following the comments of Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti’s to a York University class – that women who don’t want to be sexually assaulted should “avoid dressing like sluts”

So as a retaliation, women took to the streets in white t-shirt baring the slogan "SlutWalk – “Because We’ve Had Enough" or in their underwear and marched in Toronto, Australia and soon in London.

I personally will not participate in lingerie or otherwise, but I do feel deeply concerned by the comments, what chances do women have when subjected to these prejudices,

The police are always urging women to report any incident of sexual abuse or rape, yet the statistics show more than 40% of sexual assaults against women go unreported, what are the chances any women would report a rape after hearing such a comment from an authority figure.

Why is it always the women’s fault when she is assaulted? She was provocative, she was willing, she was a slut, she was a prostitute, women have had enough of being SLUWALK....because they've had enough.

Monday, 9 May 2011

I’m creative; you can’t expect me to be tidy as well!



wahèb khaled khodja

Cleanliness is a state of mind for a lot of people; my mind is clutter-free and I would qualify my house as relatively tidy and clean despite my rebellious approach to cleaning and house chores, in the way I HATE them.

I don’t know about other areas of the world, but growing up in Algeria you’re subjected to the Friday “ménage” which is a weekly routine in the form of a spring cleaning;
You wake up to a scene from a plane crash, windows flung open, wind blowing through, curtains flying, you stick out your nose from under your blanket and you catch instant frost bite, your bedroom is upside down, the washing machine going, taps running, all doors open, It’s a horror movie, and your mother is playing the role of the villain, quite torture, not a word is uttered but she somehow guilts you into getting up, probably by pacing the corridors back and forth, making all the beds in the house, making as much noise as she can to make sure you’re awake and aware of the efforts she’s perpetrating, so against your will and desire, you get up, skip breakfast and help her finish the housework and by help I mean take over and finish everything alone, whilst she gets on preparing lunch.

Years and years later, I sit and observe my sisters go at cleaning their houses in the same methodical and obsessive manner my mum did, they clean everyday, they wipe their granite tops several times a day and wash their walls? Who washes walls for crying out loud! Although they pay someone else to do it for them, it remains an obsessive behaviour that needs looking into, I sit there rolling my eyes and congratulating myself on my no-cleaning policy.

Memories of house chores give me knots in my shoulders and shivers down my back, you are made to clean an already clean and humongous house, indulging therefore in serious cardiovascular activity so you skip your Friday activities as you already had a hard workout, your hands chafe and you develop calluses on your palms, strong gluteus maximus, a foul mood for the rest of the weekend and a strong hatred for the piece of hard material used for cleaning the floors they call it Nechaf or cerpiere as I twist it to dry it over the bucket of water filled with bleach, I smile at the vision of my twisting it around the neck of its creator. My mother always brings me back from my murderous day dreams by pointing out a corner I missed or laugh at my weak efforts, which are consistently poor every week until I am no longer asked to do them. There's hope still...

Of course I rebelled against the system (my mother), 9 times out of 10, I would refuse to clean and seek refuge in my dads room who hated the Friday cleaning routine my mother hoarded us into, he would ridicule the whole thing and treat my mother of worshiping the Nechaf, she of course would ignore him and would not allow him to enter the house if the floor was still wet as it would leave marks on her precious marble.  I never minded doing the dishes as I found it therapeutic and relaxing even though the radioactive-like washing-up powder “LOMO” is slowly eating at my hands and it seems there's always someone continuousely piling on dishes onto the sink just as I'm nearly finished.

My mother is always claiming that Housework won’t kill me, I beg to differ and, well, why take the risk, I prefer to sit down with a good book or go out with my friends, “not before you finish hanging up the washing” she would say from her evil throne.  This is where pocket money comes in handy, my little sister would do it for 50 dinars and she will throw in a bonus too…she will bring me my café and lait in the afternoon.

I now, live far from the crazy Algerian cleaning monster that took over all the females in Algeria; Thankfully I have never been contaminated by this demon, and will continue waking up every weekend guilt free and as long as I do it with my own accord and in my own time, then it is ok, I will leave my fellow Algerians and other females around the world to their bleached cerpieres and to their weekly pledge of allegiance to the frottoire (1), I personally prefer Kassaman (2).

(1) A standing format of a window cleaner used to clean tiled floors
(2) Algerian National Anthem
Art by wahèbkhaledkhodja

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Les A-Peut-Pristes

Growing up in Algeria, every Friday (weekend), I used to sit and watch my brother play football with his mates, he was so rubbish that he was only allowed to be the goal keeper, he didn’t seem to have any ambition to stop any balls, as enthusiastic as a diabetic at Baskin&Robin, he’d give a half-hearted sideway jump, raise his hands and say “Allah ghaleb”(1)

My dad branded him “apeupriste” a made up word derived from “A peut pret”(2), which epitomises the traits of the regular Algerian, no effort, no enthusiasm, no desire to excel, just get by, as long as he’s standing in the field or wearing a tracksuit, then he is playing sport, a similar approach to work and to life in general is noticed with many subjects observed in my many years of being Algerian.

Needless to say my brother grew up to be chubby.

My dad like other Algerians is judgmental, critical and calls everybody an a-peut-priste, Algerians are all lazy, they don’t want to work, he says, they prefer to gossip, hold walls, smoke, eat their mothers food and criticise their girlfriends and wives for not coming remotely close, wake up at 40 to find themselves still living in their mothers skirts and asking their sisters for pocket money, driving their sisters cars and be completely dependent on them (sisters), whilst at the same time maintaining complete control over the sisters independence. Can I borrow your car and 1000 dinars, oh and do stay at home.

No pleases, as you know we don’t have the word please in Algerian, they say the “please” is implied in the tone of the voice or they’ll finish the sentence with a prayer in the likes of “yerham babak” or “t3ich”. Even our language is incomplete.

Throughout school, and growing up in Algeria, you learn to be happy with mediocrity and celebrate a Baccalaureate with “mention passable” (3) and say Hamdoulah(4), when things go wrong after a whole ten minutes of trying to solve an issue, giving up is acceptable, just say maaliche (5) it’s fine like that, just leave it and hope it won’t get noticed or that someone else picks up the work.

It is something that stays with you and which will emerge in everything you endeavour later on in life, I don’t want to be an apeutpriste but along with being hot blooded, having dark hair, knowing everything, owning a pair of ray bans and a Levis 501, never bothering to read instruction manuals or user guides and living with the mantra of “there is always tomorrow” and Allah Ghaleb; I cannot help it. I am Algerian.

(1) God’s will or something
(2) close enough or approximately
(3) C mark or pass mark
(4) Thaks god
(5) It’s ok

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

An Algerian girl in Africa

I land in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital; get hassled by the taxi drivers outside the airport, this one tries to charge me 25$ for a trip to my hotel in dar Es Salaam city centre, I laugh in his face, dollars? really? and move onto the next one, I threaten him by heading towards the buses, so he sighs and agrees to 25,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shilling).
It’s about 30 degrees and humidity is very high, it looks like a typical African capital, lots of green, heavy road traffic, bicycles and small calibre motorbikes with incessant noise pollution.

My hotel was simple, very friendly staff, the porter calls me sister which I thought was sweet, I tip generously and I am left to my own devices, I forgot all my notes on “what to do in Tanzania” so I head to the business centre to google Dar es Salaam, most feedbacks report a dead zone with not much to do and I will have to agree, I finally take the advice of the girl working in the business centre, her name was Widad, I take a taxi to an area called “Mwenge” it’s a big market and consists of many small mud huts lining the dirt road, all selling the same things, artefacts, Massai wooden statues and paintings, as soon as they see my taxi pull out, they start chasing me to go into their respective shops, all greeting me with “Karibou” which is Swahili for Welcome, I respond “Asante” which is Thank you and add No.

Every time I set foot in a “shop” I get hassled so much that I end up leaving, I venture into another one and always greeted with “Karibou” I explain to the two young men that I want to look on my own, they understand and leave me to it, so I purchase a few items, large paintings and wooden artefacts and some massai crafted objects, they are very happy and I advise them the trick to getting a tourist to buy anything is to leave him/her alone, he laughs and thanks me “Asante Sana” (thanks very much)

I should have stayed no more than 24 hours in Dar es Salaam, there is not much to do here, some tourists on their way to a Safari, Kenya or Zanzibar or over from South Africa for Business. It’s my second and last day here and it’s raining, heavy tropical rain that doesn't last longer than an hour, I knew that April/May is the rainy reason, I am bored, I log into facebook and to the blog, still bored, so I decide to go running, yes I brought my running gear with me, I pack my camera and take to the streets of Dar es salaam, I try to keep to the main roads but inevitably get lost in the markets and mingle with the locals who look at me like I am a Martian, humidity was very high and I was sweating profusely, I run for 3 km and take some pictures, I ran to the harbour and back, past many mosques and a Kanissa (Swahili and Arabic for Church), every step is painful, I found myself jumping and skipping more than running, trying to avoid the mud holes and rain puddles, I run past the bus station in the rain and people either ignore me or try to sell me something, I just keep running, get back to my hotel to take a well deserved shower.

My last night in Dar, I want to make it count, I find myself way too over dressed for the place, so I put my flip flops on to tone it down and take a taxi to Oysterbay area to a place called Q bar, I immediately notice some prostitutes sitting at the bar drinking and eying up the old muzungos(1) and expats, I sit at a table and order some grilled fish with some fried rice which is the local speciality, it was so hot I couldn’t even eat but it was delicious, I stayed for a couple of hours wathching the news on TV, Al jazeera showing the uprising in Morocco against the regime, I think about Algeria, about home and about the Tanzanian president, who is he? What are their resources, there are 36m inhabitants, most of them live in poverty. I get to know a local girl there called Sam and we chat about the local people and expats, laugh, I buy her a beer and she’s very grateful, she told me about the lack of husbands in Tanzania, I laughed so much and welcomed her to the club, she described how difficult it was to find a boyfriend or a husband who didn’t already have a baby out of wedlock, I explained that we can’t find any men here, with children or without, then went back to my hotel.
The streets of Dar Es Salaam are very dark at night, the electricity supply is very problematic, streets are not lit, I imagine myself living here and I immediately discount the idea as improbable, I hear the muezzin calling to prayer, I stand still listening to it and look up to find myself standing by the local church, I walk into the church and sit in the front pews looking at Jesus and the writing in Swahili, I am either dangerousely dehidrated or bored.

The next day, I buy my ferry ticket to Zanzibar and head to the port, where I get hassled by a couple of porters who badger me into giving them 20,000 TZS, I of course refuse and tell them to take 10,000 or I will call the police, they quickly back off when I tell them I am not bloody Muzungo I am muarabo and African too.

I sit in the “waiting room” swatting flies away from my face, waving my fan with one hand and holding my book with another, I was reading “the Girl who kicked the hornets’ nest, the 3rd book in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, I was so absorbed by it that I did not see the huge wave of people waiting for the ferry and sitting in front of me, my “travel calm” tablets have kicked in and I started to yawn non stop, my jaws hurt, I try to keep myself awake by looking at people and registering in my head a detail about every single one of them, there is a Muslim family, with the father, the mother and children, the women balance large containers on their heads, a Christian group of girls, wearing tight denim skirts and wearing weaves, a cage with 2 chickens inside, bags of tomatoes and onions, the ferry docks at the harbour and a huge wave of soldiers start offloading their luggage, people start shuffling and pushing, I have a suitcase, I do not travel with a rucksack like some backpacking tourist, so I have to work out a strategy, how do I get on the ferry…. I decide to push with them, I get full respect from them and they clear the way for me, the porter tries to take my suitace from me to put in the luggage side which the front of the ferry and about 100 metres away from my seat, I scream NO NO NO so he gives up and lets me go, the couple of English boys behind me, claim they’re with me and follow suit, two and half hours later, Lisbeth Salander has been arrested and is in hospital with a bullet in her brain and we arrive at Zanzibar.

Karibou Zanzibar: do you have your yellow fever certificate? I say listen here mate, I had it as a baby and I come from London so if anything I should ask you for the certificate, he waves me away like an annoying tourist and I get into a taxi for 40,000 TZS, the taxi driver is an old local legend, he shows me pictures of him on stage singing, and the whole hour from the port to Nungwi where my hotel was, he sang to me in Arabic, he sang old Egyptians songs of Farid Al Atrach and Abdeouahab, I was so tired and sedated I think I remember clapping my hands and asking for more.

Along the way, I got a glimpse of the real Zanzibar, Zanzibarians living in huts and shacks built on mud roads near the spice farms and fruit trees, they live on rice, fish (samaki in Swahili and samak in Arabic) and tropical fruits, life is tranquil and very very slow, “pole pole” as they say “slowly slowly” it is to hot to rush anywhere and not much to do, women walk balancing objects on their heads with such elegance I envy their posture and men on their bicycles, not too many cars around, fuel is very expensive and electricity is imported from the mainland, so there is none in the villages whose life is very primitive.

My hotel is beautiful, as soon as you cross the gate to the open space hotel you forget the poverty that lies beyond the walls and enjoy a 5 star service, albeit a slow one, food is so fresh and meticulously prepared. The beaches are paradisiacal, white sands and coconuts trees, turquoise waters and amazing sunsets; my hotel is in the middle of the fishing village, fishing boats line the beach and we get to witness the fishing ritual everyday at sunset the fishermen come back from sea, they are met by their waiting wives with empty baskets to take the bait to sell or make dinner, I made the mistake of taking a picture of them as I was sailing by on a boat, I provoked their wrath, there was screaming and shouting and waving, all the local boys on the boat started laughing and told me how lucky I was not to have been on the beach when I took their picture ooops

People are so friendly here, you are greeted everywhere and by everyone “jumbo” means Hi and “mumbo” is “how’s it going”  I thought about the expression "Mumbo Jumbo" did it come from Swahili?

You feel a genuine liking and they are all smiley and sweet, you don’t feel any animosity or danger, people work here, they will try to sell or fish or work but they will not steal, but they seem bewildered as to why I am travelling alone and do not have a husband, I answer there are no men and they laugh and suggest a good swahili boy to make mixed babies. I'll think about it, Cheers.
When after my first dive I lost my dive camera, my diving instructor said “hakuna Matata” I looked at him in disbelief “are you f*cking kidding me” he said that it meant “No problem”, again “are you f*cking kidding me” like in the Lion king??? He laughed and said he didn’t know what that was, so I was like Oh Ok “Hakuna Matata”

After a few days in paradise, and many days on sea, I believe I developed land sickness, as soon as I stepped off the boat and onto land, I start getting sick and dizzy! I am thinking I am made to live in Zanzibar.
I met a Massai warrior named “Jackson”, after I watched him with his tribe jump and generate amazing noises from their throats in a ritual that I think is a mating one but cannot confirm, he asked me to marry him, presumably to come and live in London, I told him I’ll think (I am not gonna) about it and he made me a bracelet for my ankle as a promise which I am wearing still, Jackson was serious, it is a new trend now, white girls coming to Africa and falling in love with local beach boys or Massais, bewildering stuff.
On a snorkelling day trip over to Mnemba island, I met a Swedish girl who was in love with a Massai and referred to him as her boyfriend, my Massai will have to wait a bit longer, as I am not ready to go back to Africa. I guess he just did not jump high enough to impress me during the Massai ritual.

(1) Muzungo = European
(2) Muarabo = Arab
Muhindi = Indian
Other Swahili words:
Please = Tafadhali
OK = Sawa
Excuse me = Samahani
Swahili words:

Most popular ramblings!