Making our way from northern Europe to southern, western to eastern, the middle east of Asia to the east coast of Africa, one impression has stuck.
Everyone dreams. And the dreams are … maybe not universal but at least remarkably consistent.
Children like the girl at the top of the blog dream, and parents everywhere dream for them. Everyone dreams of good health. Of safety in their homes, security in their homelands.
People all over dream of creating, building and beautifying their lives. Whether they are little kids building toy sailboats out of flip-flop shoes or big kids building houses or crafting jewelry, they dream.
In a place like Jambiani Village on Zanzibar (described in some guide books as “one of Zanzibar’s more primitive” fishing villages), dreams are almost achingly on display, sometimes even written on the walls.
We have been staying in a Danish couple’s dream house. They visited Jambiani innumerable times while living and working for two years in Dar es Salaam, and now they dream of retiring here.
Down the beach a couple hundred meters, Tot is a South African who moved to Zanzibar 13 years ago and now runs a hotel. She came to the island dreaming of safety from the dangers of her hometown Johannesburg and escape from the rat race of modern urban life. The Green Flamingo restaurant where her husband Nick exercises his passion as chef is part of the dream.
Kevin works for Tot and Nick. He wants to run a own hotel someday, or maybe a good restaurant and bar. “I dream of owning something,” Kevin told us.
Francesco is an Italian from Lake Como. He, too, has lived in Jambiani for 13 years. He dreamed of building a successful construction company in paradise and did. Now he builds many of Jambiani’s new hotels and villas.
The shopgirl in one of the village markets just finished high school. She is awaiting the results of her exams to see whether she qualifies to go to university in Stone Town. She dreams of being an English teacher.
Massai tribesmen from the mainland walk the long Jambiani beach every day, peddling reflective sunglasses and cheap trinkets. Simba told us he dreams of earning enough money to buy more cows back home because cows are wealth.
A fisherman dreams of the rising tide.
Kim and his/her mother and the women who make pottery dream of customers.
The hotel clerk under the bougainvillea, gazing over the gate toward the village? Who knows?
Sometimes in Jambiani, it is hard to decide whether a dream is a’borning, a’dying or somewhere in between. Francesco told us villagers build as they earn, sometimes a few feet of wall or a door or a window at a time, littering the landscapes with structures it’s hard to distinguish from half-done and half-decayed.
Yes, humankind has its extremists and fanatics and people who have lost their souls to unseen devils, but these are the outliers. Everywhere, they are far outnumbered by people like our host Milaud, who has sent his nine-year-old daughter to live with extended family in Stone Town so she can go to private school and get a better education than in the local school and grow up to have good employment.
To cover the cost, he operates a small restaurant near the village that opens whenever travelers contact him to cook dinner and has planted a small orchard to raise fruits and spices he can sell.
Sweet dreams, all.
In the rear-view mirror:
- A memorable sail: For $20, a villager took us skimming over the aqua waters in a dug-out canoe with holes in the sails, cracks in the hull and a rock for an anchor. Skiffs like this go for about $2,000. They are someone’s dream.
- A working beach: Fishermen, hawkers, gawkers, football players and cows all share the beach where the sand is never hot to the touch because it is so white because the sunlight bounces right off it.
- Sunrise over the Indian Ocean: Through our front gate
Coming Soon: Lions and tigers and hippos (we hope)
(NOTE: A hiatus may follow; we fly off the grid shortly.)