A Story of Water

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania – This is the prettiest drink ever! And I promise, the most welcomed. We arrived at our exotic Serena-By-The-Sea (Kingdom by the sea? Poe) just after 3 PM, with a poet’s bag of stories (I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence.” Frost). There’s the story of Ben’s flight-booking surprise, that turned into turmoil for everyone. There’s the story of our strange pilot (Santa?) who “spoke not a word but went straight to his work” for the entire two-hour flight. There’s the story of Immigrations (Give me your tired… Lazarus) where, even though Zanzibar is IN Tanzania, and we were IN Tanzania on a Tanzanian visa as evidenced in our passports, we had to fill out paperwork for Zanzibar. And then there’s the story of water.

I was the last person on the plane (slowly, slowly; pole, pole) being pushed and pulled up the tiny steps and squeezed into the last seat. The person carrying my backpack threw it into the pile of luggage secured behind a cloth curtain at the back. As the plane taxied down the runway, my seatmate began recording our flight, his camera-on-a-stick held to the window, technology capturing his dull monotone voice. I looked around, surveying my surroundings; the plane had 1-2 seating with me in the aisle seat. Friedrich (I decided to name him) was on my right and his traveling partner Frieda (as I named her) had the single window seat to the left of me (yes, they had grabbed both windows). About 30 minutes into the flight, Friedrich reached into his backpack and pulled out two water bottles. He leaned over me and handed one across the aisle to Frieda, then tucked one into his seat pocket, unopened. This set off the “thirst command” in my head, and I realized that MY water bottle was in my backpack, and my backpack was way beyond my reach, oh criminy! After 30 minutes of staring at those two unopened water bottles, I nudged Friedrich’s arm and said, in gesturing English, “I need some water badly but mine is in the back. I’ll be glad to pay you for your water bottle.” He shook his head and frowned. “No. This is my water.” Then I started coughing. I didn’t MEAN to, I swear! But I couldn’t stop coughing! My mouth was completely dry; I was reminded of those poor zebras in Amboseli, dying of thirst. My throat hurt. I was thinking evil thoughts. Friedrich never looked my way, nor did he ever open his water bottle. Frieda didn’t either.

This beautiful drink I’m sipping now, in the lobby of my Serena-by-the-Indian Ocean, isn’t the much-craved water I needed so badly on the plane, but bungo juice, which is found only in Zanzibar; it tastes of pineapple, mango, and orange; refreshing but not too sweet. The flower is hibiscus; red and orange blooms surround the hotel. A poet would have a word for a place like this, I’m thinking, as I looked past the massive hand-carved doors to the lively street scene out front.  “Friedrich and Frieda will probably hate it here” is the best line I’ve got.

A record of our day, so far, beginning at Seronera Airstrip. See, I had water with me!


Zanzibar Serena Hotel https://www.serenahotels.com/zanzibar