Photo by Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar @kibuukaphotography for Travel Noire
FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017/PART I
By now, I started to feel a slight bit of a routine waking up in Zanzibar. I prepared myself for the day ahead. On the itinerary today was the thing I was the most excited about - snorkeling. I had to put some thought into what I was going to bring and wear for the day, even though I honestly had the entire wardrobe planned based on activity before the trip, in an OCD kind of way. Today I would wear the black bikini, underneath the white and black button down topper and the black drawstring linen pants, with the more durable action sandals. My thought was that the topper could serve as a top as well as a cover-up. The linen pants I figured would dry quicker if they were to get wet. I assumed that because of the activities, I would find myself in more water than the days past, exiting and boarding the boat.
Breakfast was as delicious as I remembered. The same fresh fruit, coffee and tasty food was awaiting us on the rooftop, surrounded by an even more appealing view. We chatted and relaxed, as we nourished ourselves for the adventure ahead. Our ED gave the haps for the day. It was during the end of my meal that our photographer stated that he liked my topper and was ready to take my one on one discovery photo shoot. There wasn’t much time between my remaining travel mates finishing their meal and meeting in the lobby for our shuttle. The plan was to go back to our rooms to get whatever we needed for the day; for me it was my backpack, for him it was his camera gear. Minutes seemed like seconds in this hastened pace. As planned, in less than 10 minutes, we met back in the lobby. We began walking and found ourselves at the House of Wonders, which is yet another landmark of great significance in Zanzibar. One would think that the name of this place comes from its marvelous size. When in fact, according to the World Monument Fund, and our guide Sherif, it was named the House of Wonders because it “was once the most modern building in East Africa—it was the first building to have electricity and an elevator.” Built in 1883 for the Barghash bin Said, second Sultan of Zanzibar, it is also the largest and tallest building of Stone Town. I would describe the seafront facing building as a three layer square cake, topped with a matching square hat, supported by thin columns, and one large clock tower in the middle, all iced in white.
The photographer eyed up the landscape, walking back and forth. Born in Uganda, his accent gives him a tone of thoughtfulness (if that makes any sense). Almost as if he truly thinks before he speaks. From our initial group introduction, I could tell he was a genuine free spirit whose camera was just an extension of his soul. I deduced that he was younger than me, but felt he had observational wisdom that gave him a sense of having lived many lives. It was time to get to it, and I walked up the steps onto the large portico. Crumbling walls and steps are what remain of the exterior. It is this reason that the House of Wonders is closed; it’s literally turning into a ruin of its former glory, but its decay stands strong in its own ironic beauty. We enjoyed our conversation as he gave me direction, after discussing that I am still not used to being in front of a camera, as it took me some time to be, “natural,” or play this however I wanted. His spirit made me feel at ease, we shared laughs and it was fun. The locals walked by with curiosity, trying to figure out what we were up to this early in the morning. I trusted him to do what I figured he knew best - capturing the moment.