Turns out, I was appreciated mainly for being sarcastic, and funny, and calling shit "shit" when it was needed. I was also given what I think of as a blessing... told that Meggie and I are seekers, and for seekers, the journey and the experience are often the whole purpose, not the destination. I was admired for being in a marriage that "allowed" me to travel alone, to complete my heart's calling, that it was ok it was not John's heart's calling. Meggie and I were solemnly toasted as a model of a beautiful friendship, a model others said they're going to strive to emulate.
We were up in the dark Friday morning - but Mamatony was too, with a little green onion omelette and toast for our journey. This time, we drove all the way to Dar in one push - stopping only for lunch, and for more "surprise!" experiences with public toilets. (You never know what you're going to get, but I learned one thing - check the faucet first, see if there's running water. It's just good to know before you see what the stall has to offer.)
We got to Dar in the dark, and went to one of those food-court strip-mall places that you see and read about it in the developing world. Attached or near a shopping mall, they're bad food in a safe setting, they're places the middle class socializes with itself, and shows off as members of the middle class. Meggie and I had burgers - she had beef, but I wasn't quite ready to let go of the flavors of coastal Tanzania, and had a chicken tikka masala burger. I tried to get a photo of the sign across the street - we make fun in America of "any excuse for a sale" but this was pretty well on par:
(That's "Pay only 80% during Eid!" I think 20% off is smarter than pay 80%, but there must be a learning curve up to American standards of marketing.)
We stayed at the same hotel from two weeks earlier; this time, we comfortably strolled around the market area, got an ice cream, had a glass of wine at the oceanfront restaurant and felt perfectly at ease with the currency, the people, the music. This time we knew to expect a Ramadan party all night, and put in ear plugs. And oh - the shower. The long, hot shower. To be honest, I showered first, and Meggie said, "How'd it feel!?" And I said, "Just OK. That shower was getting the grime off. Tomorrow's shower will be one I can enjoy."
(Me after 6 days without even attempting a hair wash, and just a couple half-bag half-warm sun showers from the safari in Ruaha, up through the last week. My hair was so fantastically matted, I could shape it into any style.)
The next day was Saturday, and all flights leave Dar for Europe at night - so we spent the day shopping, buying trinkets and thank you gifts for our supporters, trying some candy and Saudi Arabian dates. We learned a new tradition from a volunteer... when people leave, don't wave. Don't say goodbye. Dance them off, and then you can dance them home again when they return. So we danced off the first of us to leave (she sent this ridiculous picture later, and note I am still snug as a bug in a rug in my hiking boots:)
And then we went for an early dinner. Note the Sprite - I'm considering it medicine still, at this point.
And after a long, dusty trip to the airport, after buying Cuban cigars for John at the duty-free, we got to our waiting area at the airport - where the plane was late, there were no updates announced, and only Meggie's French managed to get us an explanation from the Swiss Air steward! We took off about an hour late, first for Nairobi and then for Zurich. One last photo at the airport....
And then we slept - sort of - but flew in relative silence. The guy in front of us puked the whole flight. The woman in the aisle over had malaria and was cutting her trip short.
Arriving in Zurich, our lateness meant Meggie had to run to catch her plane to Paris. I was to have my two nights in Zurich... and realized I had no idea how to get to my hotel, where it was in the city's districts (beyond an address), or how to use public transit. We squeezed hands and I shrugged and laughed, "I 'm sure I can figure it out!" Calmest I've ever been. I mean, there were clean toilets and drinking fountains I could use. How bad could it be? Meggie provided me with a few French phrases to use, and I wandered through customs (they thought it was very odd that I was staying in Zurich under 48 hours) and then up to an information booth. I got some Swiss Francs, I brushed my teeth, and I left the airport, determined not to take a taxi but to figure out the buses and trains, to get to Hotel St. Georges on my own, and ate my very last nutrition bar.
It took three hours to do it - and should have taken about 40 minutes - but I got there. Zurich on a Sunday morning, with the church bells vibrating my skull, and hardly a person out, with all the shops closed, was as other-wordly as a Tanzanian dirt path. My room was miraculously ready for an early check-in. I opened my third floor window. I looked out on this:
I took a long, long shower and put on a podcast of The Splendid Table. Then I headed out to see Lake Zurich with the Sunday revelers.
It's all in the journey.