Zanzibar - spices and sand (and lots and lots of rain)

Yes, I’m still alive. I’ve been really busy this summer (more than I would have liked to be) and I have prioritized being with people rather than writing on my blog (or anything really). Some of you might know, others not, that I’m not in Sweden at the moment, but that I’ve fled to Zanzibar. I’m not here on vacation or on missions, but to study the fish in tropical seagrass beds and collect material for my master thesis. I’m not gonna go into detail (if you’re interested you can just ask me), but I’m looking at reducing bycatch in dema fisheries (a certain type of wooden trap) and comparing marine protected areas with heavily fished areas. So, I’m gonna spend the following two months on the island of Zanzibar, snorkeling and trap-building.

Zanzibar has a reputation for being a paradise island, and I understand why. Even if I’ve never had a desire to go here until now, the island has a tropical magic on its own. The fact that your taxi driver stops by a local fruit stand to get you a mango just because he feels like it, or that a tropical thunderstorm forces everyone under the nearest roof, even if it belongs to someone you don't know, adds to the feeling of being far away from Sweden.
At 5.30 a.m. the minarets wake devoted Muslims and call for the morning prayer, to the background noise of revving trucks unloading their fish at the market next doors. During the night we’re frequently woken up by sudden rain showers, drum-rolling off the tin roofs. I don’t mind the sounds at all, but either way, they add to my lack of sleep. So does the heat and humidity. Like Fanny commented when we stepped off the plane “It’s like walking into a fish tank”.

Most fish tanks are no way near as beautiful as what I’ve seen snorkeling here though. Triggerfish as colourful as a 5-year olds painting, lionfish on guard with its venomous wings spread out around itself and mooray eels writhing like snakes through the seagrass beds. It really is a bit of paradise, but from what I’ve heard, the entrance fee to paradise is already paid, while here your wallet will notice the cost.

This week I'll be spending buiding traps and preparing permits for my field work. It's gonna be pretty awesome and I'll try to write here whenever possible. Have an additional hundred something fish species to learn by heart as well...


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