Zanzibar Stories and Tips

Kiswahili Kibaya Sana

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member

Man, is my Kiswahili bad; or, as Marshed told the guy behind the counter at the Bureau de Exchange today, "anaweza kusema Kiswahili kizuri, lakini hawezi kusikiliza chochote," which basically means "he can speak Swahili well, but he can't hear a thing." It is so true. My family definitely speaks much quicker than the rest of the folks I meet around town, and couple that with a good deal of leftover jet lag and adjustment and you get a guy who says, "Sorry, could you repeat that again more slowly please?" Even still, I think that I have a pretty good ability to make conversation, especially with the beginnings of conversations, the pleasantries, which can take up to a couple of minutes in Swahili, seriously.

"Hello. How are things?"
"Good, and you?"
"Only peaceful. How's it?"
"Cool for sure."
"And your health?"
"Good."
"Family?"
"Everyone is well, and yours?"
"Ahh, everyone good, but brother is sick."
"Malaria or what?"
"No, not malaria, just a cold."
"Ok. So what are you doing today?"
"Nothing really, but I think we're going to go play soccer later."

And so on and so forth. It's not so different from our own meetings...perhaps it's just that it seems to happen with so many more people. These are the conversations that come up with just about everyone that you know. It's not something that is reserved for your closest friends, as we might be used to in the States. Everyone is related here, and I don't mean that quite as literally as it sounds. There are so many friends, and friends of your siblings, and your parents' friends children, etc. It's pretty cool to see so many people in and out of the house sharing food, conversation, and laughs.

My brothers had me rolling today; we were laughing so hard, I think I did my stomach workout for the day. They are big movie fans, and it's so funny to hear the quotes that make them laugh, not to mention how great it is to hear a Zanzibari imitate Mel Brooks from The History of the World or Brad Pitt's gypsy-speak from Snatch. It's too much. I had to leave at the end of Snatch tonight, 'cause I can't wait too late to walk back to my place at night - it's not really safe apparently. I don't envision anyone taking a chance with me, but I've heard some pretty messed up stories lately, so I returned earlier than I wanted to. Now I'm going to try to sleep with the workers building the apartment complex next door all through the night. It's 1am, and they're still going strong.

Good night neverland...

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip