Traditional beating and back to civilisation - Zanzibar, Tanzania, July 26 2005

The day after arriving to the East coast of Zanzibar, I joined some Rasta people who organised a trip to a local festival. Here the locals equipped themselves with banana leaves which sounds peaceful enough. But instead they only used the stems of the leaves which means they where all armed with sticks ready to beat the shit out of everyone up for the challenge. The north and south part of the island were supposed to fight each other and after some thousand people had leaped around the battle field provoking each other they all commenced in a big battle. The fight was fierce and I had no way to tell the combatants apart. A few wore protection in form of winter coats, wet suits and a bunny costume, if it wasn't warm enough in the boiling sun, while the braver ones had bare chests. Sometimes the fighting got all the way up to us, but the fight was fare in the sense they did not hit anyone not armed (by intention at least) and stopped as soon as one dropped his sticks parting as cheerful friends, so we almost felt safe. After a good hour of fighting with no obvious winner in sight a hut was built, an old man was put inside while it was put on fire. He escaped, while dancing women, a major crowd and a few puzzled non-locals surrounded the bon-fire. I never got the meaning neither of the fighting nor the hut-burning and my rasta guides where not much of a help in their always ecstatic mood, hard to tell if they where on a constant high. Afterwards I got that they celebrated the Persian New Year or the trauma of British invasion.

I've been very well fed during the whole trip and more than once felt greased like a Channel swimmer. I never had the chance for any kind of work out while on the truck, except for my index finger taking pictures and my right arm for an occasional beer. So arriving on the east coast with no itinerary in mind I started off every morning with a run along the beach. It was good exercise in the sand with a boiling sun, with a rewarding swim to cool off before a breakfast consisting of fresh fruit. Talking about greased swimmer I also have to get fit to the Swedish Classic Circuit. This is a challenge to complete four major Swedish races all within a year: Vansbrosimningen 3 km swimming in a cold stream (where you have the alternative of greasing your body or wear a wet suit), Lidingöloppet 30 km running in the bush, Vasaloppet 90 km cross country skiing and Vätternrundan Runt 300 km on bike. Some friends and I am starting with the running this September so anyone up for the challenge are welcome to join.

When I arrived to the East coast to a place called Jambiani, I was greeted with a beach which was all gone and transformed into a working place. The women farm and harvest sea weed on the sea floor, exposed during low tide, along the never ending beach and a few hundred meters out to sea. When the tide rises the turquoise water and the white powder to sand lined with palm trees is transformed into a calm picturesque paradise beach who every eleven year old girl would love to have as a poster above her head. Except for a daily run, walks in the local village and on the beach, swimming and a tiny bit of sun bathing I retreated to the shade to save my fair skin from the almost always shining sun. Most of the time I just relax in the shade with a good book, my diary and viewing the beautiful beach transform twice a day. Yes I know what you're thinking - it's a tough life - but someone got to do it.

I'm now back in Stone Town writing the last to mails since internet has not yet reached paradise. My travel is coming to an end and I'm slowly working my way back to civilisation and am off for Dar Es Salaam in a few hours. Then I have a brief stop in Brighton, England to meet up with some old friends of mine (Ian and Theresa) before heading back home to Sweden. I am longing for my girl friend Hanna, my bed and a proper shower with hot water.

Take care Emil