All seven of us met at the resort’s breakfast buffet, then went for a swim in the wonderfully warm, aquamarine Indian Ocean. Dwight took Troy and Lynne snorkeling, and I headed off to check my e-mails (wow!) and get some exercise. We were all eager to MOVE after so many hours and days of traveling and sitting during game drives.
I stopped back at our room and discovered that our little fridge hadn’t been re-stocked. Anticipating that we would need more bottled water and Diet Coke after everyone worked out and the day heated up, I called the front desk and asked to have more drinks brought to our room. The man who answered the phone at the front desk seemed a bit confused by my request, but we managed to communicate, and he said that some drinks would be brought to our room shortly. I gathered up some laundry and marked the paper up with what I was sending to be washed.
I opened the door at the sound of a knock and found a sleepy-looking Moses standing there in his gleaming white caftan, carrying a tray of waters and Diet Cokes.
“I’m sorry, Moses,” I said. “I thought the front desk would send a waiter, not bother you to bring us drinks.”
“I’m the only one who has a key to the pantry,” he answered, a bit grumpily.
“Well, I am sorry,” I repeated and meant it, although I did wonder a) Were we the only guests who had ever asked to have their fridge re-stocked? and b) What happened to the “I’m here for you 24/7 attitude” that Moses had shown the prior day?
“It’s no trouble,” Moses answered, although clearly he didn’t mean it.
“Thank you,” I said, left it at that, and he departed.
I followed him out in search of the resort’s fitness/spa area with lap pool, which should have been easier to locate than it was. Most of the resort’s staff didn’t speak much English, which wouldn’t have been a problem, if there had been any signs showing the way.
Eventually, I found the fitness/spa area. It looked lavish and luxurious, but there was no one at the desk. I called out hello a couple of times and a woman appeared. I asked to use the lap pool, and she looked mystified, told me to follow her, and she would find out about the lap pool. She found a spa manager (?) taking count (?) in a storage closet well-stocked with towels and linens. I could see the deserted and inviting lap pool from the hall where we stood.
The manager explained to me very politely and at some length that only spa guests could use the lap pool. I decided not to press the point, although, clearly, I was the only guest in the entire spa.
I walked back to the resort’s central pool and swam 50 laps, dodging some young French kids who were playing with a ball. We were the only Americans at the resort while we visited — everyone else seemed to be European. The large number of children in our family and our general high energy level stood out, and I would venture a guess, not favorably.
After my swim, I found most of the rest of the family on the beach. The girls and I decided to check out the resort’s gift shop. We were hoping to buy some new colorful clothes (anything but khaki safari clothes) to wear for the New Year’s Eve celebration that night.
Back to the front desk. Again our request caused some confusion, but it was sorted out and a woman detached herself from the group of staff that continually hovered behind the front desk.
“The shop is closed, but I’ll open it for you,” she said, and we followed her to the elegant resort shop. It smelled heavenly. The aroma of spices from Zanzibar — cloves, cinnamon, cardamon — filled the shop. We tried on and chose some bright skirts and tops and brought them to the woman at the counter, expecting to charge our purchases to our room.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “but you’ll have to pay cash and the register is locked right now. Also, I don’t have the key. Only the shop manager has the key.”
Hmm. Maybe she could have told us about the shop’s limitations a littler sooner. We were beginning to figure out how new this resort actually was! We arranged to return later in the day with money.
We spent a happy afternoon swimming both in the ocean and the pool, playing Scrabble and taking a stroll along the beach. The tide went way out in the afternoon, exposing the coral reef Dwight and the kids had snorkeled over in the morning. We could see fishermen spearing octopi from their dhows — rough, primitive dugouts — but I didn’t have my camera with me. I took this picture a couple of days later.
Remarkably, the shop manager met us in the late afternoon, so that we were able to complete our purchases.
Here we are, all dressed up in our festive attire:
and the boys, who obviously copied our blue theme, and who also, obviously, should have applied suntan lotion more liberally.
We had a fantastic and exotic New Year’s Eve, dining and talking in the warm night air, under the stars.
Once we’d seen in the start of 2009, the girls danced their way back to our rooms. Happy New Year!