Pweza (Octopus). The Beach Bungalow Build. Zanzibar. Part 10.


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Pweza restaurant and its bungalows are named after the Octopus. Octopus is life sustaining in the small villages of Zanzibar. Octopus to sell at local markets, resorts and restaurants and octopus for the family to eat. Local Zanzibar cafes in remote areas boast a heady choice of Octopus Massalla. grilled octopus, octopus curry, marinaded octopus, pickled octopus, octopus and rice or if you’re lucky catch of the day. It is a limited menu for none sea food lovers but an excellent way to diet for those who wish to shed a few pounds.

Every morning at low tide the women of the village would head to the breakers far off shore armed with plastic sack and a home-made wooden metal tipped spear. Gathered on the beach, they sounded and looked like a multitude of brightly coloured parrots. Tottering babies, followed their mothers onto the sand only to be shooed back towards their older baby sitter siblings. Stragglers raced out from their houses at the last minute winding flapping kangas around them as they ran after the group making its way across the sandbar towards the boats that would take them out to the reef.

Much later when the tide turned the women would return bearing their catch and proceed to pound the octopus on the beach with stones to tenderize it .

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Luckily for us Ame’s menu included lobster, crab, prawns, calamari, spaghetti, beef and chicken on the occasions, rice ,salad and chips. Because crisps, chocolate, sugar, diary and meat products and flour were not readily available in the village and all our food was grilled I became very fit and healthy in the two months I stayed.

One weekend we met Ame in town and decided to treat him to a meal since he had done most of the cooking for us during our stay. We chose a restaurant recommended by one of the tourist books and looked at the menu. It was a smorgasboard of European and Asian food with a couple of token seafood dishes thrown in.

The waitress came over and took our order. Taste buds working overtime and desperate for junk food after all the healthy eating I went for the pizza with the most toppings . Ame, overwhelmed with choice was still deciding. Some time later he made a decision and said.

“I’ll have grilled pweza and chips”

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A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Arch


A  Word a Week Challenge – Arch

 

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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

 

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of your pet that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Witch Doctor. The Beach Bungalow Build. Zanzibar. Part 9


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The village community had gathered around the beached broken boat that lay under the palm trees fringing the sand. Yet the only sound I could hear was the swish of the waves, the rustling swaying song of wind in fronds and the tinkling of shell mobiles that I had constructed and hung. From the bungalow veranda I could see a multitude of people huddled around the boat, backs strained forward and faces rapt with attention. All listening. Even the children were struck dumb. A single child, held in her mother’s arms, twisted away from the main attraction and proceeded stare at me with intense concentration. I saw Ame run along the beach up to the group and stand attentively close to them for a while before breaking off to return to the restaurant.

“What’s happening?” I asked

“Witch Doctor” he replied

“Why?”

“Local people not happy. Think there are bad people in village spreading ill-will and misfortune. Witch Doctor called from mainland to get rid of evil spirits”.

At that point the meeting broke up and the group parted to reveal 3 men dressed in black robes who proceeded to walk off down the beach.

Now I know of one particular fisherman and his 3 cohorts who unhappy that the bungalow’s compound had been fenced in thus blocking easy access to the beach had protested in several ways. First he broke the fencing down. Second I found him in the act of taking equipment from one of the bungalows. Third, every morning for the past week he and his friends had woken me up at 5.30am by shouting and gesticulating their displeasure from the safety of the beached boat. Fourth, an officer from the tourist office paid us a visit and demanded to see permits for the restaurant and bungalows. They didn’t have them of course. But who had informed on them?

I voiced an opinion as to the bad people.

“Nah, we tell him we call police if he does it again. He’s been arrested already for something similar when next door was built.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Losing football matches” Ame said

“You joking for me” I replied

Ame just smiled.

The next few nights were loud. Sleep was disturbed by herds of bleating, distressed goats milling around outside compound – it seemed like someone was corralling them around the village for hours on end. It made no sense at the time until later when I read an article in an African publication about a goat being arrested and dropped off at a police station. The villagers had chased a thief and believed that he had turned into a goat to avoid detection. Maybe the Witch doctor was trying to as certain which goats were fake.

One day we walked by the village football ground. A crowd of serious looking villagers had gathered. People were chanting and singing. Something was burning in the middle of the pitch – it looked like a football and some clothing.

Ame was clearly not joking for me because the football team had some resounding victories in the next few weeks. The village celebrated in style each time and partied on till the early hours.

One day we hitched a lift with the Magi (water) truck back to Pingwe. On the road we met the Witch Doctor walking stately down the middle of it followed by a stream of happy smiling villagers. The sight of us crammed into the front of the dusty beaten up truck caused much giggling and hand waving especially as the truck driver and his 2 young colleagues were lustily singing along with us to a pop song and the drivers was raising his bottom in the air and wiggling it in time to the beat.

I had wondered if the villagers had considered us to the be ‘bad people’. The Damian like stare from the child, the goats outside the compound, but the out-pouring of good will on the road that day made me realise that my imagination was febrile .

I resolved never to make a derisive remark about any village football team in the hearing of any Zanzibarian – even if I was joking for them. I wonder, would the Witch Doctor be willing to perform a little ceremony for Chelsea? Maybe I should ask.

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Create


A  Word a Week Challenge – Create

 

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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

 

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of your pet that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Oki Shop. Samos. Greece.


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Maritza sat behind the till with her swollen leg propped up on a stool. The smell of it’s putrefaction, coupled with the stench of 40 years of shop grime and her unwashed body put shoppers daring enough to venture into the mini-market reeling out the door and gasping for air.

Anyone daring to venture into the gloom of the furthest isles would find a sparse selection of out of date stock and a large quantity of lard in the cooler. Fruit and veg were mouldering, vac sealed crisps were so old that they were soggy when opened, packaged goods polluted the fresh air when removed from their environment.

Maritza rented the space downstairs in the ‘Big House’. Thanks to Greek law concerning inheritance the property was owned by several hundred people, scattered across three continents, who each had claim to a couple of bricks. Money raised from the let was supposed to cover the maintenance.

The Oki shop (the no shop), christened because it never had any thing in, became notorious amongst family and friends.

“Do you have any butter?”

“Oki”

“Do you have any milk?”

“Oki”.

“Do you have any fresh bread?”

“Oki”

|”Do you sell anything within the sell by date?”

“Oki”.

However, whenever we arrived on the island and walked by the shop duty obliged us to take a deep breath, pop in and say hello. After exchanging pleasantries Maritza would offer us a small gift from the shop to take home.

“Do you like chocolate croissants?”

“Oki”

“Would you like a carton of orange juice?”

“Oki”

“How about a can of pop?”

“Oki”

Of course politeness prevailed and we walked out of the shop trailing a smell of decay from the unwanted item down the street to the nearest bin.

Sadly Maritza passed on, but on a more cheerful note the Oki shop closed and the potential threat of passing trade being poisoned was negated.

The Barber and the Brothel. The Beach Bungalow Build. Part 8


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Sometimes it takes a small nudge in the right direction to make the penny drop. The small nudge in this case was a screwdriver. The brothers were not willing to spend one cent of their income on tools for the bungalow and as a consequence sourcing a hammer, nails, spade, shovel, saw, broom etc etc became an epic journey around the village to find someone who had one and would be willing to loan it. This could take hours as the person in question could be fishing, shopping, asleep, hashish high or had loaned it to someone else. After waiting around for hours for tools to turn up we invariably paid a visit to the local village shop and bought the required item so we could get on with the job and not waste another day. Once we’d bought something the brothers were constantly at our door asking to borrow it. So it was with the screwdriver. As soon as they found out we had bought one they were always borrowing it and we were continually asking for it back.

One day there was a knock on the door.

“We need screwdriver” Osmane announced.

“Why” I replied having just wrested it off Mohammed after he borrowed, disappeared for a day or two then turned up hours before.

“Need to repair barber cutters” “Need to cut hair”

“for you?” I asked

“No for barber. He working in there” and gestured towards bungalow three. Sure enough when I checked it out a barber’s shop had been set up in the front room. That’s when I realised that the brothers were hiring out the bungalows for money and that’s when it dawned on me that bungalow two was being used as a brothel.

|One of the problems with the bungalow build was that the brothers had used the rooms as a doss house for themselves and friends when they wanted to get drunk, stoned or had had a fight with the wife. It was a habit that was proving hard to break and we had had number of discussions about the appropriate use of the rooms now they were being renovated.

It was about this time that we noticed women walking into the second bungalow, not turning on the lights and staying over. In the morning unknown men and the brothers would leave the bungalow.

Once a Masai warrior can strolling out followed by a women.

“Who’s that?” I asked Mohammed

“Oh he come to look at room, maybe I employ him for security” he replied.

When tackled about the situation we found out that the brothers were using the rooms for their Tussies (village women who were prostitutes). Despite painting, decorating, ripping out the squat toilet and cutting off the water until we had installed a new toilet and shower, the women continued to turn up on a regular basis. So we dismantled the old bed and removed the mattress. That night we watched as a shadowy shawled form slipped into the bungalow. Minutes later it marched out of the door and headed down to the restaurant. A skreetching female voice berated the brothers then left the compound muttering to herself, casting could kill looks in our direction.

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Driftwood bungalow.

 

The mattress was disposed of and the room remained bare until the painting and decorating was complete. After, Phil met with the brothers and the room was refurnished with a Antique Zanzibar bed and new mattress, locked up and the keys left with him and Ame.  Bungalow Two was complete.

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A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Transport


A  Word a Week Challenge – transport

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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

 

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of your pet that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Red


A  Word a Week Challenge – Red

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Not much red here but  this african woman stands out against the blues of the landscape 

Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

 

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of your pet that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Plumber on the Beach. The Beach Bungalow Build. Part 6.


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Time seemed to have no meaning in the village. The only thing that was well co-ordinated was the inter-village football league which the locals were passionate about.  Team names were inventive “If you’re beautiful you should be married” or “go for the legs” were two of the more unusual ones I heard.   It was unfortunate that this passion did not extend to the build. We would wait days (even weeks) for paint, tiles and equipment to arrive. Our plans were often put on hold because we were told that it was ‘arriving today” then “tomorrow” then the next day. Hanging around in the heat can be very frustrating and we learnt quickly to do our own thing until we saw the goods with our own eyes.

However one thing that was a constant irritation was lack of water supply in the bungalow.   The shower petered out on a weekly basis, the toilet would not flush and the sink dried up. We resorted to a mande (bucket of water and a scoop) for washing and flushing for at least a few days a week.   The problems ranged from a rusted shower head, the tank running dry, no generator to pump the tank once it had dropped below a certain level, no motivation by the brothers to solve the problems, jobs being given to family and friends who were not qualified plumbers and made the situation worse, no one having thought to order water to refill the tank.

“Amne Magi” I would say to Mohammed. He would make a phone call. “Water truck come today” he replied. Of course it didn’t.

“Amne Magi” I parroted the next day when I tracked him down. “Oh water truck come today” he replied.   It didn’t turn up because it turned out no one would take responsibility for paying them.

It was the same with the tradesmen

Where’s the plumber?” I’d ask

“Plumber come today”

Where’s the plumber? I’d ask the next day

“Plumber at funeral yesterday. He come today”

On the third day “Where’s the plumber?”

“Religious holiday yesterday. He come today”

And so on until 5 days had passed and we still had no running water.

Yet,  when building supplies finally arrived (normally without turps/brushes/or enough of it) the brothers had no qualms about badgering us to start work immediately.

“Until you sort out the water what is the point of hurrying to paint?”  I asked “You can’t let the rooms out until you have a reliable supply and we can’t paint until the bathroom is finished.”  They didn’t get it.

Once after a hot a sticky day painting the inside bedroom of bungalow 2 I had to wash in the sea.

“I’m not doing any more work until you sort out the water” I told the brothers.

“You paint and then we order the water” Osmane said

“Yeah right like that’s going to happen” I downed tools

One day I was sick, the water had dried and  the plumber had not arrived for several days.  Being sick without being able to flush or have a shower was awful.   When Phil arrived at the build I’d had enough and let my feelings be known.  I said that if I wasn’t paying for the room I would expect delays but the fact that I was and working for them as well,  I expected some kind of reciprocation.

I left and headed out along the beach to have a wash, swim, get away from the whole situation and calm down.

“Where you going?” a young man fell in beside me

“To have a swim, we’ve had no water for 4 days now” I replied

“Where you stay?”

“Pweza, but we are Fundi (workers) not tourists”

“Ah I heard about you.  You stay long time and help Ame”

“Not for much longer if they don’t get the water fixed” I replied

“I am a plumber” he replied

“Really” I said in amazement  “Well then call Mohammed or go and see Phil and maybe they can get you to fix the problem” and headed off for a swim.  It’s amazing what a bikini can do!

He waited for me to come back then walked down to the bungalows with me.

“I’ve brought you a plumber” I said to Mohammed. “How come I can find one in 10 minutes when you still haven’t produced one in 4 days? I asked. He had no answer.

A pump and regulator was procured, the tank filled and by the next day we had a supply to the bungalow again.  The water pressure was great but the original plumbing was rubbish.  The  hand basin pipes sprung a leak and flooded the bathroom. Mohammed summoned a friend (not my plumber) who managed to fix the basin and break the toilet. Five days later the shower ran dry. Someone had forgotten to order water.

 

 

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Traditional


Traditions.  We all have them whether it be cultural or personal.  These photos were taken in Peru of traditional dress and creating traditional crafts.

 

 

 

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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

 

 

 

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

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