Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zanzibar: Paradise or paradox?

Perhaps no word could better describe the remote island of Zanzibar than juxtaposition… A sea of perfection encapsulating an island of poverty.

Only hours into our trip, this realization was first felt during our Friday afternoon descent into Stone Town -- the island's capital city -- as our 10 passenger, double propeller aircraft penetrated the island's coast, and suddenly miles of transparent water and white sand were displaced by thousands of grey and brown rusting iron roofs.

This unforeseen realization grew as we leisured through the narrow, brick-patterned / moped-filled streets of the town, and Linda took pictures (posted below) of the amazingly beautiful architecture that was often propped up by webs of Braveheart-like poles that looked nowhere near as sturdy as the spears from the movie. And at Nungwi Village, our honeymoon worthy resort undoubtedly seemed more like a mirage than an oasis to the villagers who lived directly outside and yet couldn't even enjoy a paved road or a store to buy throat lozenges or ibuprofen/pain-killers (or at least I asked around tirelessly and couldn't find one).

So, in light of this unsettling juxtaposition, our short time in Zanzibar definitely created a mixed and lasting impact. In addition to enjoying the beauty of the beaches and the company of my colleagues, the trip profoundly emphasized the significance of my consultancy at TechnoServe -- of which I was celebrating the conclusion -- and development work worldwide. Poverty is evasive and does not discriminate: not even a paradise island such as Zanzibar has been able to escape, yet…

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