Chilling out at the weekend

Kigamboni’s fishing boats beside the ferry

After a very busy time at work (hence the lack of blog posts for a while), I really needed some chill out time.  Fellow Brit and VSO Kay who arrived in July and I decided to take ourselves off to Kigamboni for an overnight stay.  I went to Kigamboni back in April for a work planning retreat, but this time it was just for pleasure.

Following a sticky daladala ride into town and a 20 minute walk to the ferry terminal, we’d just missed one ferry but were among the first passengers for the next one.  It was fascinating to watch the holding area fill up with families, students and tourists.  There were young teenagers selling small packets of peanuts, women with plastic buckets full of doughnuts, samosas or something similar, young children smartly dressed and plenty of very colourful fabrics being worn.

The beautiful beach at Mikadi

The ferry takes about five minutes so we sat up on the top deck and enjoyed the breeze.  Then we waited and watched the throng of people disembarking, fighting for space with the cars, motorbikes and bicycles getting off.  We took a bajaj to the resort (my favourite mode of transport).  Mikadi is run by an Italian guy and his Zimbabwean wife and it’s the perfect place to chill.

It has a stretch of beautiful beach with the clear, warm Indian Ocean lapping at its shores.  There’s a salt water pool too, a big area under a very high makuti (thatched) roof – where the bats hang out during the day – with big expanses of cushions, a bar and seating area plus a few hammocks and swing chairs either on or close to the beach.  The resort is a favourite spot for Overlanders – the huge buses taking tourists across Africa by road so there were a few of those parked up.

Our beachside banda

As we were staying overnight we’d booked a banda (beach hut), which is very simply furnished with two mattresses on the floor plus a large mosquito net.  There’s also a fan and a light, with half a coconut shell as the key ring for the door lock.  Most of the bandas are right on the beach which makes for a perfect location at sunrise.  When I first visited in March (and forgot my camera), the sunrise was stunning.

After putting our stuff in our banda, we changed into our swimwear and got ready for some relaxation.  I spent time in one of the fabric hammocks up from the beach before the tide was high enough to go swimming.  The water was much cooler than in April – almost verging on the chilly side (I must be acclimatising), so I was quickly out of the water and in the pool for a while.

Then it was back to the hammock and a bit of reading or just watching people passing by on the beach.

As the sun started to sink, I got cold for the first time since Easter (when I was up on the Masai step).  So cold in fact that I had to change into jeans and a fleece!  The wind got up for a while and I was still freezing.  Fortunately after some spicy chicken stir fry and a beer, I warmed up nicely.

After a few late nights in a row, my lack of sleep caught up with me and I was tucked up in the banda just after 8pm!  Luckily Kay was tired too, so we both crashed out.

I’d put earplugs in so had a pretty undisturbed night until the very loud call to prayer just before 5am.  It seemed to go on for ages too.  It’s the middle of Ramadan right now and with a large Muslim population on the coast, lots of people are fasting and there are more prayers (I can hear the rhythmic sound now as I write this) than usual.  I did get back to sleep only to miss the sunrise!

My blissful hammock

When I eventually got up just after 8am, Kay was already on a picnic bench reading and having her first coffee of the day.  I immediately took up residence in a traditional hammock right on the beach. With a gentle breeze blowing it was the perfect location.

Before long it was time for breakfast.  For the first time since I’ve been in Tanzania I had bacon and eggs.  Lovely crispy bacon. What a treat!

Then it was back to my book in the hammock and some more chilling out.  Once the tide came in again late morning I had another swim and did some lengths in the pool.  By then the day trippers had arrived and ‘my’ hammock was taken over by a young guy who proceeded to monopolise it for the rest of the day.  I returned to one of the fabric hammocks instead and a comfy chair.

A busy ferry heading back to Dar

All too soon it was the end of the afternoon and we needed to get back before the sun set.  I had a quick salt water shower (a hot one – another treat) in one of the open air shower stalls.

We walked up to the main road and caught a bajaj.  Our driver had to drop us off before the ferry as the queue of traffic was stacked up.  Luckily we could just walk on board bypassing the long line of cars.  We sat at the back of the ferry above the car deck.  A young girl came and sat beside me.  She smiled very shyly and kept making eye contact, all the time getting bolder and giggling away.  Very cute.

The ferry was as busy returning to Dar as it had been going to the Peninsula the day before.  Once again we waited as people and vehicles raced each other to get off first.  Finally we walked back into town to catch a daladala back  home.

What a lovely way to spend a weekend – a five-minute ferry ride from the city but a million miles away in all other respects.

I’ll be back very soon!

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