Airline tickets to Tanzania are surprisingly good value. Ethiopian takes you there and back for less than 6000 SEK. Getting a visa was a bit dodgy though. I hit the embassy in Täby a quarter to three on a Wednesday, had to push myself past the guy that unlocked the door to be let in and was kept waiting until 2 minutes past closing at 3 to get any service what so ever. Now, I was not in a hurry mind you but I did expect to get my visa on the fly. Not so, I hand the clerk my passport and ask for a visa. She asks for a visa application form. I fill one in and hand it to her. She asks for 500 SEK. I hand it to her and get a raffel ticket with the number 87 printed on it and a ”Come back Friday”. Er? not as I expected. Anyway, Friday I get my visa and my flight leaves on Monday so I am OK.
A couple of weeks earlier, I have spoken to Mikael, commenting on myself being between jobs for a few weeks and entertaining myself as best I can. He promptly invites me to make an expedition to the site of his latest underwater room on Pemba in Tanzania. There will be some hands on assistance to be given on the underwater room. I consider this for less than -3 seconds and figure it is a great idea. Except for all the buts… I quickly do away with those.
The Expedition plan is to be quick. Get there, bring the house, get nice shots and go home before I am missed too much by the family. I am due home on Monday morning a week later meaning 4 days on Pemba.
The flight leaves on Monday evening, I missed the Sunday flight because I was indecisive. Monday morning I don’t feel so well, a combination of a light flu and guild for leaving the family in the salt mines while I hade off to paradise so I pay our GP a visit to see if I could get doctors orders. His only comment was: ”Your going to Africa? You can fly.”
Said and done. Monday night I fly. We touch down in Cairo for refuelling at three in the morning. Everyone is woken up since you are not allowed to be strapped in while fuelling… Sigh…. We reach Addis Abeba at 7 for a 3 hour stopover before the flight for Dar Es Salaam leaves at 10. There is really nothing to do in the terminal where we are waiting. It is just hot. Just before noon I reach Dar. Try to bey a nice hat but consider $20 to dear at the international terminal. Decide to wait until domestic. Pay the $5 to get there. Here security asks me to open my bags. I am carrying 10 kg of rubber for the underwater house. Security deems it non-dangerous.
From Dar domestic we fly a Caravan to the islands, first to Zanzibar and then on to Pemba. It takes about an hour and a half total. When I arrive at Pemba airport in the afternoon I am met by a car. I dutch girl asks for a ride to Chake-Chake to buy boat tickets to the mainland. $20 vs @150. We drive, and drive and drive and the road get narrower and narrower until it is nothing more than an cattle trail and then there is half an hour left.
I arrive at the Manta Resort at about five. Get a fruit punch and enter the lobby and I am met by the most wonderful of sights. The sun low in the sky above the Indian Ocean. There. Is. No. Background. Noise. My metropolitan stress levels skyrocket. I immediately start expeditioning the house on the great vista.
Mikael is there. He introduces me to Matt Saus, who runs the resort. I realise that these will be very nice four days.
Next morning, Wednesday, we go out to the underwater room. I have experience diving from around the world but so far it has been purely for pleasure. Diving around the room we do underwater construction. It is hard work. We do two dives with a break for lunch. Corals are aplenty. Fishes too. There is a sea-turtle shield lying on the seabed beneath the house. When I try to find the underwater moonhouse I brought, I realise it is not there anymore. It is somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Bugger. (If anyone out there finds a red house with white corners somewhere around the Indian Ocean it would be most welcome if you could contact the Moonhouse Expedition at email@example.com). At night Ken tells us everything we need to know about whiskey, holiday houses in exotic places and running a business. His whiskey-collection is amazing. Really.
Next day, Thursday, more diving. But today we enjoy the company of the owner of the resort. He arrives in what looks like Jack Sparrows Black Pearl with an entourage of investors and family(?). Owner never runs out of stories and does things his way. The same night he arranges a spirit dance with local villagers and a great big bonfire on the beach. A real spectacle but impressive in itself.
Third day, Friday. Ears hurt, no diving. I take a long walk up to the lighthouse. Island is pretty much cultivated with Cassawa. Here and there, there are holes from coral-brick harvesting. I reach the lighthouse and meet the caretaker. He wants five dollars to show me the light house. It is hot in the light house but when we get out at the top there is cool breeze blowing. Nice, I take nice pictures of the house and the watchman before he asks if I am ready. ”Ready as I’ll ever be”. ”What languages do you speak?” ”Er, Swedish, but English will do”. Ok, we go up top to the actual light of the light house and he starts. It is like he carries a recording and I understand how he can do it in French, German, Italian and Spanish too. Another picture and were down. I walk back along the beach. See lots of crabs hiding in the coral wall next to the beach. And meet all the people cultivating sea weed in the tide.
In the afternoon there is a trip arranged to a sand reef off the northern tip. White sand, perfekt picnic spot and great pictures of houses.
That night Mikael and I taste the Mackmyra I brought along as a present. It is nice. We plan to start a rock band. For cash. [Long story goes here, but not this time.] Scare off Bushbaby visiting to steal sugar from the coffee machine with the flash on my camera. Turns out it was baited by person with very long tele-lens. Ooops. I am sorry.
Saturday, last day. We head off after lunch for a visit to the local jungle and a spice farm. We see many trees in the jungle and many birds. Guide steps on a snake. Nice. Then we head for a loooong drive to the spice farm. A bit too long, but we get to see a bit of Pemba.
Next morning I head back home. First I make a mess of tipping. I never know how to do that properly. Hm. One and a half hours to airport. Flight to Zanzibar and on to Dar. Get fooled by taxi driver and young student on a taxidrive. But this is Africa. Passengers get angry driver gets paid 4 times. We’ll survive, he’ll survive. This is Africa. Hakuna Matata.