The Trouble with Hair…

I had a man ask to touch my hair today. That’s a new one for me. But wait, I feel as though I should tell the story from the beginning.

A few weeks back, I had just come to Zanzibar as a volunteer and was visiting a restaurant where some of my homestay mom’s artwork is displayed, when this man in his 40’s came dancing towards me. Shimmying no less. I had to struggle not to burst into laughter at how ridiculous he looked. He knocked on the cement pole beside me and told me to come listen to it. Eyebrow raised, I leaned my head in to “listen” to the pole.

I heard nothing. Big shock. I gave him my ‘this is awkward’ face, and tried to leave, but the man was persistent, and he was drunk. He ended up telling us that he had come to Zanzibar on holiday 8 years ago from Holland, and he’s just never left. I think he’s made it a game of his, to prey on any and every single female tourist. Lucky me. *pops shirt collar*

So, we went back to the same restaurant again a couple weeks later to use the preciously free wifi to do our work. This guy, whose name I can’t actually remember, was there again. Amazing luck. I watch from the corner of my eye as he spots me. I’m smart enough this time not to pay him any attention, not even be my normal friendly self. So I put on my concentration face and move in closer to my laptop screen.

Nope. Doesn’t stop him. He comes over, asks us all for our names, then tries to strike up a conversation with us… I go back to doing my overly important work. He comes back up to me later, singles me out, and tells me that he’s waiting to talk to me over at the bar. I had to force down my frustration and just say “ok.” About 10 minutes later we left, and that was that.

Then today, back at this oh so lovely restaurant (which actually has the MOST DELICIOUS samosas), my face twitched as I saw his figure walk in. This time I had my headphones on and my ipod playing whilst I typed up a storm. The man was kept at bay until the very end….
Sida had to go to the washroom. The second she left the table, I picked up my cellphone to pretend to make a call (yes, I am 5 years old). While I’m on my imaginary phone call, I hear the man stop Sida to ask her what her name is. *sigh* Thenn, he asks her what my name is. She says my name extra loudly, and I look up thinking she’s calling to me. BLAST.

The second I look up he motions me over. But you know, it wasn’t so bad. He told me that I concentrate very hard when I’m working. (yes!!) And then he said he wanted to compliment me… (here we go) He said that I have the most beautiful hair that he’s ever seen. And he wanted me to take it down so that he could see it. I laughed awkwardly and said “oh no, that’s ok.” But, he persisted, and for some reason Sida was still in the bathroom… Argh!

I took my hair down. He motioned to his friends across the bar to look – apparently he had told them about my hair. Seriously guy… what’s your deal? He told me to shake it out. I did not. Then, he asked to feel it… and before I could really even pull a strange face at him, he was feeling my hair. *shrugs*

And just then, Sida emerged from the bathroom! Perfect timing. This was uhh…. *runs for the door*

So, here’s what I’m wondering. Why me? Why do these people always find me? Sida told me today that she met some lovely people when she was on her own. And she wondered why all of the creepy situations happen just to me? *raises hands in the air*

Is it possible that I have a super power of attracting troubled people?

The other thought that is presently creeping into my mind is this: I was born this way, and I need to deal with it. I need to accept it. It’s not going to stop. No matter how much I want it to. *sigh*

Couldn’t I at least have a better super power though? Like, be able to walk through walls or become invisible perhaps? *waits eagerly*

Worst case scenario, I’ll just braid my whole head. Someone just told me yesterday that women with braided heads are not so attractive. It’s fool proof! :) Next time you see me, I’ll be much less attractive! Get ready!

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Vulnerable Musings and a Beached Whale

I’m sitting here, in a nice hotel, on a beautiful island, surrounded by amazing creations, and my heart feels as though its broken. How can life be so beautiful, yet so crushing at the same time? Why do we desire more than we need? When do we reach the point where we feel fulfilled?

Time alone is always a good thing. I mean, it’s scary at times to be alone because you’re able to be real and vulnerable with yourself. You’re able to assess your achievements and your failures and to set new goals for yourself. For me, being alone is as much heartbreaking as it is healing.

I love people – I have so much care for others that I feel as though my heart will swell up and pop one day. I truly care for others more than I do myself. And so, time alone holds a lot of significance for me.

Now, for the first time in a month, I finally have some time all on my own, with no one else at all. And I’m sitting here crying. *giggles* Why? I’m not 100% sure at the moment… maybe because I’m proud of myself, yet disappointed too. Maybe because I feel like I’ve done so much, yet there’s so much left to be done.

There’s a large piece of a beached whale outside my window. The smell woke me up this morning along with the voices of the group of locals standing around it. They are digging a hole to bury it now. As I watch them work, I wonder, how does a massive piece of a whale get beached? Where is the rest of the whale? Then I find myself, in a small way, relating to the whale. I constantly give of myself freely to those around me, and sometimes I lose pieces of myself.

Looking back over the years, I wouldn’t change any of it. But that doesn’t mean it hurts less. The good thing is that I’m now at a place in my life where I get to decide for myself how I want to live. Who I want to be. How I am able to best serve others and serve my King. A small part of me wishes that my heart wouldn’t hurt so much… and yet, I know that it’s a gift to be able to feel sympathy and compassion for others and to genuinely want to help them.

To steal a quote from my friend Tina: “Friends break hearts. Friends (also) heal hearts.” I have been so blessed, so incredibly blessed, with amazing friends – old and new. They’ve taught me so much about life and about myself. So here’s to my old friends, whom I miss dearly, and to my new friends who I’m glad to have an hours space from! Hehe.. Thank you all for investing time in me through friendship. Thank you for breaking my heart at times, and for healing it as well.

Stone Town

I often find it difficult to think of what to say in this blog. I suppose I also feel that my blog has to be an amazing story, or a hilarious adventure, or an epic masterpiece. Hah. Who am I kidding?
So for this blog entry, I’ve decided to take the pressure off of myself. Nice, huh? Yep. I’ve decided to write down some of the interesting experiences that I’ve had in and around Stone Town. Here goes…

While walking through Stone Town, I find myself feeling partly comforted and partly annoyed. I’m comforted because of all of the other tourists and ex-pats that I see walking around. It helps me to remember that other people are experiencing the same things as me – I’m not alone! Yay! And I feel annoyed because of the persistent guys who hang around outside of the shops, trying to welcome you into their store to look at their merchandise.

Last week, one guy tried to sell us some sort of African music CD and followed us up the street for a bit. When we didn’t respond or pay attention to him, he got mad and started yelling “This is discrimination!! You don’t talk to me because I’m black!” I silently chuckled to myself and kept walking. For those of you that are wondering, no, I am not racist. I just found it interesting that declining a CD that I didn’t want made me appear racist.

Speaking of unwanted attention, on our bus ride to work the other day, our bus driver asked us to be his girlfriends. Both of us – Sida and I. As we burst into awkward laughter, Sida said “No! You must be married!” (because the man was in his 40’s) to which he said “No, I’m alone. True story.” More awkward laughter seemed to be coming out of me as I said “ohh….hah… … …” I think at that point I was hoping that our stop was coming up soon, which it wasn’t. So he persisted, “I wait for your answer. I wait now.” So then I finally said “No, we can’t be your girlfriends because we both have boyfriends in Canada who are waiting for us (slight lie), but we can be friends. If we see you again on the bus we will say hi.” I seem to remember him still trying to say that he’d wait for our answer, but luckily our stop came up soon and we jumped out and ran off. *Phew*

Today, Sida and I went to Chumbuni, a poor community a little ways away from Stone Town. We were there to explain to the youth in the community about the health and sanitation workshop that we are planning to hold. Last time we had been in Chumbuni, as I may have previously mentioned, we saw a young boy kicking around a “soccer ball” made out of old plastic bags tied together with rope. Sida felt very impacted by the little boy, that she decided to buy 3 soccer balls today and bring them to Chumbuni to give to the kids.

I’m in the middle of explaining to the group about our health and sanitation workshop, and Sida runs off around the corner. Before I have time to wonder where she is, I hear someone crying really loudly. Sida pops her head around the corner with panicked eyes and calls to our translator, Abbas, to help her. Apparently Sida had found a young boy at the water tap who was filling up a large container with water – the perfect candidate for a soccer ball! Sida tries to give the boy the ball, but realizes that his hands are full with the water bucket, so she decides to help him. She tries to take the bucket out of his hands and replace it with the soccer ball. The boy thinks that she is trying to steal his water bucket, and bursts into frightened tears. He says that he does not want the soccer ball in place of his water bucket, and to just leave him the water bucket.

The whole group that I had been talking to burst into laughter, trying to explain to the boy that he could keep his bucket and have the soccer ball as a gift. He looked quite horrified from the whole experience and ran off with his bucket and his new soccer ball. Poor Sida was so confused and embarrassed! As we walked back towards the bus stop, I asked Abbas how to say “I give this to you,” so that when we found another little boy we could explain that we were giving him the ball. It still didn’t really work out so well. When I saw the next little boy, I walked up to him and said “I give this to you” in Swahili, but the boy got scared. He backed away from me as I tried to hand him the ball. So then I tried to gently throw the ball after him, but it bounced and hit an older woman. hahaha embarrassing… anyways… if the little boys in Chumbuni can get over their traumatizing experiences with us, I’m sure they will thoroughly enjoy their new soccer balls!

Thinking about the little boy with the water bucket now, I’m realizing that it’s a bit sad that he’s not used to being given things. And even more sad that he is used to having things taken from him.