Christmas in Pangani Tanzania
East African secret hideaway
Where is Pangani, you might ask? Pangani is on the east coast of Tanzania in Central Africa, 340km to the east from Moshi and Mt Kilimanjaro, about 200km north from Dar-es-Salam, and just a little south from Mombasa in Kenya. It is completely un-touristy. Fabulous. After the burglary on Sunday 20 December, a holiday in Pangani was just what I needed to recover from having my laptop and cameras stolen.
The beach at Pangani was virtually deserted, just a few visitors from the ultra-exclusive luxury tented lodge next door that charges $110 per person per day! I was only paying $12 a day for the house which had better views! It was a perfect setting, one in which helped me to relax and come to terms with my burglary and what I’d lost. Tony and Siobhan’s cell phones were on the coffee table and also stolen, dragged off the table with a stick and pulled towards the window. But enough about my burglary. I cooked all our meals on a fire, barbecuing meat and making delectable potjies in my black cast iron cooking pot. I impressed even myself. Arden and I headed into the town which was quite dilapidated but quaint at the same time, and bought fresh fish and langoustines. The langoustines were huge. More like crayfish and we paid $8 for four. The next day, we went back and bought nine for $15. Delicious! Grilled on the barbecue, awesome. Andrei went crazy and besides eating his share of the tails, ate the contents of all nine heads and bodies! He went running every morning and did his laps in the sea, and then pull ups on the rafters! Unfortunately, it didn’t inspire any of us to become fitter and copy him. It was just too hot. Swimming, tanning, reading, chatting, cooking, exploring. The days flew past. Initially we had planned to stay until the 28th December, then catch an Arab dhow across to Zanzibar. But, we heard that Zanzibar had no power for two weeks and they reckoned probably two weeks more. Someone had accidentally severed the undersea power cable, and when they tried to fix it, they accidentally blew up the repaired part. Typical. But we were having so much fun with Andrei and Arden, that we decided to return with them and go on safari together. So, the 30th December we are heading to the Ngorongoro Crater where the wildlife viewing is supposed to be spectacular. They leave Tanzania on the 1st January to head back to China and we are going to miss them terribly. But at least, we can send back Kerri’s gifts with them!
We went on a dhow to Sand Island, a sand bar in the middle of the ocean surrounded by coral reefs. Great snorkelling and swimming in water so warm, you almost don’t believe it’s in an ocean. Of course, the sun block wasn’t enough and we all got burnt to a crisp! Then, we went exploring Pangani’s sordid past – it was a big centre of the slave trade. The old slave prison is still in use as Pangani’s prison, the slave depot is crumbling away and being overgrown by vegetation. Nobody wants to be reminded of the slave trade that made the now sleepy town a bustling port a century ago. The warehouse where the slaves were kept while waiting for the dhows to carry them away to far off lands is still there, and large blocks in the river show where the jetty once was, where young men and women chained together once walked to an uncertain future. We saw the Boma, built by a crazy sultan who believed that if you buried live slaves in the foundations, the building would be more secure and stand forever. But most of all, we saw happy friendly smiling people, eager to help and sell you their wares. Pangani was a dream holiday. It reminded me of my childhood summer holidays, packing the car with groceries and things we needed for roughing it at the coast. Christmas was special. I made a barbecue, cooked potatoes for a potato salad on an open fire, and custard for our Christmas pudding. Tony wore a santa hat and acted as the Christmas fairy, handing the gifts out from under the little plastic made in China tree, I’d bought in Arusha a couple of weeks ago. Andrei cycled the 340km back to Moshi!
One thing I realised, is that people can create their own misery. You can choose whether or not to see the negative or positive in anything. We had someone with us who hates Africa and all she could see was the negative in everything. However, the beauty of the surroundings and great company did not let her reprimanding looks, caustic comments or sour expression ruin our holiday. We had a ball. We loved Pangani! When your children turn to you and say, this was one of the best holidays ever, you know that it was good. Pangani was exceptional. Who cares about my lost electronic goods. They can be replaced. But the memories from this amazing holiday, will endure forever. Maybe, some of Hemmingway rubbed off on me after all. Should you wish to follow my blog or read more about my burglary, life in Tanzania and other adventures, then click on this. I wish you all a successful and happy 2010!