"This is the end, beautiful friend" , Jim Morrison could have sung this about Zanzibar. I am packing and helping dad who is unfortunately hobbling around on his feet and somewhat stressed out about the next 24 hours of almost continuous flying.
friday at znz airport
We wait for our small plane to be announced in the one room domestic departures terminal at ZNZ along with an eclectic and al-ajeib bunch of fellow travelers this morning. One african lady, large personality with a hefty smile is dressed in a beautiful shade of mango yellow. How is she going to negotiate the metal detector, we each ask ourselves. Her dress from side to side and from her shoulder to her knees is embelisshed, decorated and laden with gemstones, pearls, ornate metal beads and designs of fine and bright metal thread. This much personal decor and weight would burden a lessor being but this is a ‘Mufasa personality’… a queen-Latifa like presence, with a swagger and a smile that people step-aside for. And so it happens that after 2 tries thru the bell ringing metal detector handled with nary a crease upon her brow, they waive her thru for a pat down! Yes a pat down… There is no way that anyone is going to pat our Queen Latifa down I think. But to my amazement and admiration a smaller security guard steps up and does the needful, before she sways and smiles her way into the room lighting it up like a Christmas tree… I conclude thus: Not only do some people not sweat the small stuff but they do it with style.
In another chair sits a graceful lady who Ali and I believe could be an Indian movie actress. The way she smiles into her cellphone and dismisses the room, she must be special. Based on the languages flying around we have Germans, some Frenchmen and South Africans. They are all first worldly and boring like us… fed by white headphones, iPads and iPhones. I suspect they’ve either had too much of this culture and country and are looking for comfort in familiar media or living in a bubble. The world outside our skins here in this terminal room is far to exciting, new and noteworthy not to notice.
Finally I must cover the traditional Muslim family in the second row of this room where all rows face one wall. The father in his Gujarati topi and thobe, the mother in an abaya and likewise the daughter who's probably a 20-something. The mother takes a corner seat and finds enough cover to redo her hijab. One furl by next he carefully unwinds her head covering and then starts rewinding, sticking back pins she’d removed along the way. Ouch! She sticks herself in the head with the next pin, grimaces, closes her eyes and bites her lips. OOOuch I want to say for her but she collects herself, opens her eyes, dignified and unperturbed. No kicking the tires, no tears … only patience and serenity in her eyes! Wow.
Dad waits in a wheelchair at the end of my row. This cannot be but the first time he has ever asked for a wheelchair. The pain must be severe. He rejects my suggestion that he stretch and take a short walk if only for me to see what he’s really feeling. His refusal is my answer, not the one I wanted but I know now that this long journey with three back to back flights is going to be tough. God willing we make it to JFK as planned. I look for my prayer beads….
yoga by the surf
"Oh no another guy trying to sell me stuff"…that is my reaction as I walk the lonely beach of white Zanzibari sand. I was out for my farewell walk with Zanzibar. Talking alternately to the creator of these incredible sights and then to creation itself I thank both for the good time, the safe living and the unanticipated good fortune of being here. Interrupting my thoughts with a big smile and handshake he sells me snorkeling, diving and fishing adventures. Unhappy to have my farewell meditation broken I wave him away dismissively and move past. Next, there are kids playing a game of beautifully athletic and almost violent beach soccer. Shining muscled bodies diving, stretching, heading, kicking, twisting and performing a soccer coreography uninhibited by pain and caution. These are local teenagers on a chalk white Zanzibari beach doing what my teenagers do in the gym at their schools in Bergen county, USA… drive hard on the playground.
I fiddle with my camera settings and capture some images. They fail my review test. No mid-air action or anguish shots…nothing that will tell this story later. The humanEye camera is still undisputed in its ability to retain not just the moment but the experience. I start to retrace my path back… I turn the corner and my salesman and his friend are doing pushups on the beach against a backdrop of coral cliffs draped with their colorful African paintings. This time I jump in… we are sportsmen, need I say more. His feet perched on a coral rock, black muscled arms chisled by genetics and practice push the damp white sand as he smiles past his Tom Crusie aviator sunglasses. Happily interrupting his workout he invites me so I hit the ground and instead of pushups I execute a ‘crow pose’. “Can you do this?” I ask with both eyes and words. They are hooked, we are friends. Camera equipment put away I show them the construction of this yoga move and they love it…all giggles and awe. I spend 10 mins showing, practicing, connecting …no words, the language we have in common isn’t wordy. With a flip of my hand I ask if he can do a headstand. He shakes his head sideways so I execute a headstand slowly. Big grins are all around…he wants to learn this. So I teach him to go from up-dog to crow and then the transition into a headstand and back. He promises he will practice it every morning when he is out there. We shake hands, bump shoulders, say Akuna-matata and I walk back thinking….’this is what my last walk was all about’. It started with me trying to grab and grasp what my senses could collect and stow, so that back in my life I could revisit this place and enjoy it. What transpired is that I left behind a piece of me, if only in a yoga move, which the white sands and seashells would see replayed for as long as my friend sold his excursions upon that Zanzibar shore.