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Swimming with dolphins

TANZANIA | Wednesday, 23 December 2009 | Views [728]

Today I went snorkeling off of the southwest coast of Zanzibar with a group of maybe 10 from various hotels nearby.  They drove us to the beach where we donned flippers and snorkeling masks and then hopped aboard a boat to head out into the water.  Our guides mentioned they had seen dolphins that morning and asked if we wanted to try to track them down.  We resoundingly agreed and set off to find Flipper and his friends.  We went maybe 30 minutes out from shore when we saw their fins; there were so many of them!  Snorkel gear assembled, we hopped into the water (very salty! note: avoid inhaling some when jumping in) and swam off after them.

It was a cat and mouse pursuit for quite a while, when every time we saw their fins and headed that direction they darted down to the bottom and switched routes.  Finally, when I was just nearing full exhaustion, they stopped playing coy and came to the surface!  There were at least a dozen dolphins and they just swam among and between us, coming so close you could touch them!  One had a few scratches from an apparent tussle, while another looked at me directly and opened his mouth a bit.  I’d like to think he smiled.  =) It was absolutely amazing and totally worth the bit of sunburn that came with the process (just a bit though; I wore SPF 70). 

After snorkeling we went ashore and had a lunch of rice and fish (with skin and bones still attached… I had to work my way through that one) and dessert of the most delicious mangoes ever.  Then it was off to a nearby forest to track down colobus monkeys, little red-backed things that lack thumbs.  Thanks to my super telescopic lens I was able to grab quite a few awesome shots of the adorable creatures, along with a gigantic snail (about the size of a softball) just chilling by the side of the road. 

Then it was back to town, where I fought with the airline I’m flying tomorrow (they made a pricing error, wanted me to pay $85 more, I refused nicely then a bit more forcefully, blah blah blah, we compromised on $30).  Now I’m blogging and uploading pictures (obviously) then it’s back to my hotel before dark.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it: the electricity is out on the entire island and they only have generators in use a few hours a day.  This is fine when it is light out, but when it is dark, it is really, really dark.  Last night I tried wandering home around 9pm (after checking out the street vendors in a park – see pics!) and not only do the streets not have signs, I couldn’t see them if I wanted!  It was pitch black!  The stars were lovely though.  In the end I stumbled upon an Indian restaurant whose proprietor felt sorry for the lonely, lost girl and pointed me in the right direction using houses and landmarks for cues.  I’m hoping to avoid such an experience tonight (though after the fact, it was quite romantic and lovely!). 

Tomorrow I’m flying to Kilimanjaro for an overnight layover, then off to Kigali on Christmas!  

Tags: awesomeness, dolphins, monkeys, snorkeling, tanzania, zanzibar

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