Thursday, December 4, 2014

26th Birthday

I was an extremely ugly newborn.  Slightly squished, yellow with jaundice, I had hair on the palms of my hands and eyes that took up most of my head.  My mom likes to lovingly share how she was a little scared of me.  But I grew up to be (a little) less yellow, proud to say I have no more furry palms, and celebrated my 26th birthday with 11 other new friends on the beach of Zanzibar.

I first flew to Dar Es Salaam to spend Thanksgiving with my good friend Valerie who is working on malaria in Tanzania.  Val fights malaria by day and by night retires to her beautiful house on the beach.  We lounged on big throw pillows on her balcony 6 stories up and drank cold white wine in the hot sea breeze.  It could have been an illustration in Eat, Pray, Love.  And then we did eat.

We went to somebody’s house who does somethin’ with the American Embassy, for Thanksgiving.  There were around 50 expats with their children and their grandma’s pumpkinpie/stuffing/gravy/biscuits.  It was proper.  I brought the caramelized dates stuffed with blue cheese wrapped in bacon, so I won.  After stuffing ourselves until our stomachs were reasonably pooched, we sat around and watched American Football.  We all stood up, in Tanzania, thousands of miles away from our home, put our hands on our hearts and sang the American Anthem.  I was moved.  Which is a lot of patriotism for someone who got in trouble in high school Homeroom for protesting the National Anthem. It was nice.  It made me miss my family a little less and appreciate this stupid crazy life I’m living.

We woke up at 5am and drove to the ferry where we met up with the other 10 people on our trip.  A good mixture of boys and girls and just enough who’ssleepingwithwho to make things interesting.  The two hour ferry ride ended in Stone Town, Zanzibar.  Stone town is a revolutionary port city known for its intricate wooden doors, spices, and seafood.  We luxuriated in the tiny alleys, and velvety, salty air for two hours before taking a taxi to the beach town of Nungwi. 

When arriving at the resort, I immediately stripped down into my bathing suit, put a beverage in my hand, and didn’t change that situation for 4 days.  I ate crusteaceans the size of my forearm.  I took a little rickety sailboat out and went snorkeling among the coral reefs.  I swam in a lagoon of tortoises.  On Saturday night I met some new friends and followed them to a party on a beach.  It was a scintillating new group.  We all had to pick dares out of the basket to accomplish before the night was out.  I had to kiss a stranger.  The beat was thumping and the lights flashing.  I locked eyes with a stranger and slid over to him.  My hair grazed his neck, I wrapped my fingers around his hair, and passionately kissed him, just to turn away and disappear into the crowd.  Or something.

We danced until the music stopped.  But there were still a few more dares to be completed before the night could end.  My new friend needed to go skinny dipping in the ocean.  She ran.  We followed.  Naked as the day I was born (a little less scary hopefully), I crashed into the Indian Ocean with 4 strangers.  It was warm and the sky was bright with stars.  Two pairs split off to be romantic and I kept dodging the one guy left like a 5 year old.  But I was in Tanzania!  In the Indian Ocean!  At 5 am!  I just turned 26 and blew out candles in a lobster!  It was as magical and twinkly as it could get. 

I think skinny dipping in the ocean is a sure way to get Giardia.


1 comment:

  1. Your bday sounds perfect and I am soo glad you are having these opportunities!!!