Everyone recommends a day on Bongoyo island, so after sleeping too late, a fast taxi ride, and a jog down the pier, we caught the boat just in time. The transfer boat was long, low-slung made of wood with a small outboard. All seats were full so we had about four-inches of gunwale showing, and the water was not that smooth. Was happy to get to the old-fashioned wooden tub that chugged us out to the island which sits in the Indian Ocean just east of Dar Es Salaam and south of Zanzibar. It appears to be originally volcanic, with lava flows into the water but lots of clear sand, clean water, and coral. According to an Italian man I met on the boat, much of the coral is now gone as they used to fish with dynamite. Set out on the spit of sand where we landed were round bamboo and thatch roofs with wooden lounge chairs. Tucked into the edge of the woods was a bamboo and thatch bar/restaurant with fishermen who took lunch orders and then went out to catch what was requested. It was a decadent day– swimming, eating, drinking, and dozing in the shade. That night we returned to the same sidewalk charcoal restaurant where we had that warm welcome you sometimes get when you return to a place. Had another delicious grilled meal, watching the naan chef flatten out the dough and then with some dexterity flip it onto the inside wall of a metal drum which had a charcoal fire in the bottom. The naan sticks to the side and bakes rapidly, coming out all blistered and brown to then get slathered in butter. While we were eating, street venders parade by, selling pirated DVDs of the most recent movies, belts, baskets, shoes. You could get a whole new wardrobe and your night’s entertainment just waiting for kebabs. One way they signal their approach is to jingle loudly a stack of coins– you can hear them coming all the way down the street. Once again, the sun took its toll and we slept early.
T. Hugh Crawford