Monday, April 25, 2011

jambiani easter, zanzibar...

there was no sign of easter in zanzibar....or any mention of that hippy revolutionary called jesus, come to think of it. no. i suspect this is what happened to the easter bunny on arriving . . . (we know what happened to jesus).....hence there were no eggs to be found....but we got to lick the empty nutella jar clean instead, with our fingers...before breakfast.

this is generally what happens to most people when you head to the zanzibari is a soporific sort of place. but i did read 5 books in 4 days. i was meant to re read Julius Caeser, which i love by the by but found too many other ones in the way. the only book i had to stop half way through was John Peel's....i didn't know who he was but came to the personal conclusion that i didn't really like him much so had to stop. the best book by far was The Other Side Of You by Salley Vickers. the little house where we were staying had the best books ever.... shelves crammed full of in a chocolate shop or something.

it's rainy season, not so much here on the hill but definitely in zanzibar. the monsoon squalls came in every two hours or so. it was glorious.

it didn't stop us wallowing about in the silky sea. the zanzibari sea is so warm and soft. you can float about for hours. in the sun. in the rain. who cares. it's bliss.

every lunch time we'd wander up the beach to a little hotel called The Blue Oyster for pizza and the obligatory two glasses of white wine. me. not the kids. you sit up on the blue verandah and sip and take in this view...

watching the sea weed farmers comin' in with the tide and their harvests...

after lunch, we'd stroll home, stopping to chat to the fishermen....boat loads of big fish....
me: wow. where did you catch all these?
fisherman: in the sea.....?

we'd pop into the Star Fish, a little rasta bar, and play an appalling game of pool....i made the triumphant start of completely missing the triangle of balls and sinking the white ball. first hit. the rastas were very kind and didn't laugh or roll their eyes but slept, rather like the easter bunny at the top of this page. we'd spend the rest of the time floating about in the high tide...then around five rubin would stroll up the beach for a game of footie with the team from jambiani.

there were three teams. whenever one team scored, the loser team would sit out and the next team would step in. he was invited to play in a tournament on the friday with his team but we were leaving, much to his chagrin.

after footie he'd sit on the old coral wall amongst the crumbling ruins from a long time ago, chillin'...taking in the world. i would love to have known what he was thinking or talking about....maybe nothing... just friends after a game of footie...

we did some time in stone town, but only after visiting zala park, a snake park where we were taken around by a young fella called ramadan. the snakes are kept in old round coral pits under coconut palms with pretty hibiscus plants in the middle. the first snake he grabbed to show us is called a Vine Snake, highly venomous. after the ethan incident, we all leaped back agog and said "no no no! don't!" he smiled and said "its fine! he only bites if you squeeze him. he has bitten me before. actually twice. but i just cut the fangs out, put some dawa (local medicine) and drank milk and i was fine!" after that, we approached the other pits very cautiously, not quite knowing what to expect....there were three green mambas in one...they are, as we know, one of the most poisonous of snakes, like its counterpart, the black mamba, but not quite as aggressive. ramadan happily told us he was bitten by one of these too....! he said he was a lot sicker with this bite than from the vine snake....he said he vomitted a lot, his legs could no longer work, he walked like an old man, shuffling along. drinking milk didn't help much either. he was soon taken to a clinic in stone town. and he survives to tell the tale.

zanzibar drips with green mambas. we found this one en route, dead on the road. juma was made to screech on brakes so we could all hop out and take a look.. if you look carefully you can see its fangs....the green mamba is a lovely iredescent green, especially against the grey of the tarmac. . . and dead. the other part of its body was sort of writhing on the road, as snakes do....

stone town was as taudry and beautiful as ever in the monsoon rain. and quiet. not as many tourists. although there were a few. there was The Naked Man. so there we were, sipping our sundowners on the corniche, where everyone gathers as the sun sets. young boys playing foot ball on the beach, chipati sellers, the young 'uns diving off the jetty, the ferry being loaded for its trip to the mainland...

and along comes this very strange man. tatoos, a cold hard mad look in his eyes. we imagined he was a mercenary or someone recently out of jail or someone high on heroine and alcohol. he staggers to the front and drops his pants, takes his shirt off and swaggers stark bollock naked into the sea for a swim. the uproar was immense. zanzibar is strictly muslim. our little family fled as he stepped out the sea, shaking the sea off his willy....we're not sure what happened next....!? we strolled through the zanzibari twilight, admiring lattice white verandahs, which made me think of dylan's "up on the white veranda, she wears a neck tie and a panama hat..."

...losing ourselves in the higgeldy piggeldy streets, perusing the sonaras (goldsmiths), singing in the old persian baths (the accoustics in that museum are incredible, angelic soaring sounds)...

eating italian ice creams and waiting patiently for the rain to stop....

we ended up in an indian restaurant, alight with strange bright murals depicting rubinson crusoe island scenes, walls painted in creepers and hibiscus plants with a congolese juju mask in one corner, old treasure chests and indian puppets glinting in dark corners....

so yes, oh bestests, we think we've done the right thing, (and our hearts are bursting with it), by buying that little shamba in jambiani under the coconut palms, just near the old arab tomb ruin, where we will build a little swahili beach house...sweet sweet times ahead i reckon, oh yeah...oh yeah...
sometimes dreams do come true....

toodely toot oh bestests..bisous X.X.X. zanzibari sunkissed, frangipani scented full ones on yer lips. there. x j

Friday, April 15, 2011

How To Jar And Pickle A Black Necked Spitting Cobra (naja nigricollis)

(this picklin' process must, be accompanied by George Thoroughgood's Who Do You Love but change the rattle snake bit to " Got a Cobra Skin For A Neck Tie" or Townes Van Zandt's Snake Mountain Blues or Darlin' Ukelele by Jolie Holland or anything suitably snaggle tooth hill billy like... and under no circumstances should this be tried alone. the whole family must be around, no matter what age.)

1. take cobra out fridge onto lawn (if you could call it that) so no snake blood and drippy venom drops on kitchen floor. lay it out so everyone can go "oooo" "sis" "Oh. My. God." and such like. stand really close to its head in bare feet to freak your parents out for fun. and because you get a kick out of standing next to a cobra head which just MIGHT still have bit of venom dripping about the place.

2. hold cobra to see how heavy it is. "hurry ma! quick! it's slipping out! it's heavy!" safari c: "YOU hold it." me: " no fucking ways man. it's DISGUSTING."

3. see how long it is by holding it against last born. it is about 1.5 m. not the biggest i've ever seen. but big enough. imagine THAT slithering into your bed while you're fast asleep?

4. start twisting it into jar. rigormortis has started to set in. ever so slightly. still. don't let this stop you twisting and turning it into the chosen jar. remember to choose the right size jar from your nearest supermarket. in this case, shopright, arusha.

5. fitting it into the jar might prove difficult. do not give up. be careful to hold the head carefully.(see below)

6. take dramatic photograph of the head because it's so evil and vile before the next part of the pickling process.

7. squash head in with naked thumb. with caution obviously. not just sommer, like below.

8. liberally pour formaldehyde into jar on top of cobra.

9. once again, squash head INTO formaldehyde for full preservation and for fun.

10. close with air tight lid and hey presto! Pickled Naja nigricollis

toodely toot oh kitchen board today because the internet is so slow, there is no power, the generator is on and it takes HOURS to upload photographs. so next time. when i'm back from zanzibar...(yessss!) bisous X.X.X. ahem, snaky kinky ones, yeah! x j.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the red dress and cobra story

(taken by last born cleaning up after party at 8 this morning after cobra situation)

you'd imagine life would be a breeze when hols start, now wouldn't ya just?
not so.
never a dull moment.

the term finished like a boeing jet coming in too fast for a landing, all pale faced and white knuckled assuming breach position.
when the bell went i got the hell outta there and fast. i could still smell the tyres burning.
which meant that i haven't quite cleared the decks which means i shall have to pop back into school and do a few little extra things over the hols....tant pis...what else to do?

i took my class away to the highlands of karatu for two nights. they are divinely beautiful my class. they kept me entertained the entire time. this was us at the lake manyara view point...which was rather stunning....better show ya.

this is what we had all been oohing and ahing about....

ngorongoro farm house, where we stayed was more like a beatrix potter haven but in the highlands of northern tanzania.

my little house had a view across the rolling green hills (of Africa as 'Papa' so famously wrote) which creased up to the misty rim of the ngorongoro crater. it was bliss to be up where martial eagles hunt, and owls flutter around the rood tops at night and the mists come down, making everything so silent. oh and we had an earthquake the one night. i woke to my bed shakin' around the room and the hangars rattlin'...they always scare me - not the rattlin' hangars but earthquakes. very humbling when the earth starts shaking about the place. my one student said "oh miss i thought it was gorillas on my roof..!" she IS from mali... nevertheless - she SHOULD know that there aren't any gorillas anywhere near fact anywhere in tanzania. i had a large amount of fun scaring the girls (all around 16/17) with ghost sightings. i take delight in things like that. i made them walk up into the hills, flushing herds of reed buck, the sun on our back and the wind in our was scintillating and made me feel alive. cheeks flushed and the wide open spaces stealin' my heart and making it fly for a little while.

back to real life.

i am still in my red dress from last night, in my long riding boots and a tassely jacket...i haven't changed from last night and i haven't slept much either. sleeping across the two front seats of a landrover IS uncomfortable and looks odd outside the gates of the snakepark. i threw a dinner party for eleven people last night chez nous. lots of candles, red wine, guitar playin', laughter, stars twinklin, and a distant storm shooting lightening far out across the steppes...a truly incomparable get the feelin' that someones making magik. someone really really big and beyond... just as i was staggering to bed, around one this morning, jules - dear friend and neighbour - who had been at the dinner called me to say ethan had been bitten by a black necked spitting cobra in tarangire...tarangire is a national park about two and a half hours away from arusha and was being rushed to meserani snake park where they have a snake bite clinic. so donned the boots and the tassely jacket and hopped into the landrover and dashed out there. the empty road in the early hours of the morning - forcing your eyes to stay open, clinging to the side. and hoping hoping hoping it's going to be better than you imagine.

we arrived at the same time as their rough old open canvas roofed landrover pulled in around 2:30am..... ethan was still in his pyjama shorts with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, pale and vomiting a lot. he vomited on julie.

the story: back in camp, he was in his bed and thought he felt a mouse bump his knee. then he felt the "mouse" bump his thigh until the black necked spitting cobra bit him just above his elbow...he is now on a drip with anti venom from pretoria...but he is reacting badly to the anti venom and is covered in a horrible fast spreading rash. help is there though....i think he will be's just very painful. and those fang marks look can only hope that those fangs were half full and he didn't get a full dose of poison. i think he'll be ok. imagine a snake IN your bed. in the bush ALWAYS check your bed. and zip your tent up. ALWAYS check your shoes too. for scorpions.

needless to say, oh bestests, i am very tired. i sorta 'slept' stretched across the two front seats of the landrover which is very uncomfortable - with the handbreak poking into your ribs, and the seat belt thingys poking into i dunno, your shoulder? waiting to see if ethan would be ok....julie has showered the vomit off and they've gone back to check up on him. the other surprising thing was that the little snake bite clinic was FULL of people...which means lots of people are getting bitten....nice.

Kitchen Board: Some time in early april 2011 ngorobob hill.

that's rubin. he went white water rafting in kenya. first born scaled the peaks of mt meru. last born explored the shambas of kisongo comparing the farming of the ancient egyptians on the nile. yeah. me neither. in fact sometimes i think the ancients were way more advanced....? but i haven't done the research so i speak from inexperience so ignore. for now.

time for me to sleep and change out of this red dress, take these dangly earring off and wash my face, brush my teeth and pretend everything is normal and that i've slept plenty and that ethan never got bitten. and i have just received an sms that ethan is doing fine. he is doing just fine and all will be well in the end. don't you love happy endings? i do. indeed i do.

toodely toot oh bestests. bisous X.X.X. sleepy red dress ones brushed like wind on yer cheeks. x j