It Started with an Epic Travel Fail

It’s 9am off the coast of Zanzibar on a sunny morning in July 2012, and I’m staring a pod of dolphins in the eyes, wondering ‘is this even real!?’

The prior 72 hours had a number minor miracles that allowed for this moment to happen. I was flying to Tanzania to meet Rad, who had just climbed Kiliminjaro and was lounging on the beaches of Zanzibar waiting for me to arrive on the evening ferry from Dar es Salaam, as we’d originally planned. Only I didn’t arrive as planned.

Kicking off 2+ months of travels with a 102 degree fever and a hacking cough was not how I envisioned leaving the States for the start of his trip. And after 36 hours of uncomfortable flights and airport floors, I landed in Dar es Salaam where things took a turn south. I had arrived, but my bags did not. Without easy internet access, or a plan for staying in Dar es Salaam – a city that becomes very dangerous after sundown (as we’d later experience firsthand) – I couldn’t contact Rad to let him know that I wouldn’t be on the ferry… and set off in my feverish state to track down a local bed and catch some Zz’s.

After a long and brutal night of being chewed alive by mosquitoes (I hadn’t yet learned how to properly use a mosquito net), I made his way back to the airport where my luggage had thankfully arrived. I had brought my computer with me on the trip so I could live a digital nomad lifestyle and work while abroad. Only… all the electronic cords that I’d packed in my checked luggage were stolen from my bag. Computer charger, camera charger, everything. And Dar es Salaam is not the easiest place to track down chargers for a MacBook or specialty camera… so my plan for capturing and sharing content was now up in smoke.

Salvaging what was left of my luggage, I made my way to the ferry leaving for Zanzibar. Arriving at the port a day later than planned, I was disappointed to see that Rad wasn’t waiting for my arrival at the dock. Not because I was eager to see him (which I was), but because I had no idea where he was staying or how to find him. Zanzibar is big – roughly 60 miles long and 20 miles wide – and I had no idea which area of the island he was on.

I poked around at the port trying to learn about the island. I wanted to know where the best beaches were… and whether there were many bungalows around those beaches. That’s the kind of beach that sounded most attractive to me at the moment, and my hope was that Rad and the friends he was traveling with would be of the same mindset. And if I chose the wrong beach, then at least I’d end up in a cool spot.

I decided that Paje Beach along eastern part of Zanzibar Island was my best bet… and befriended some German travelers who were also heading that direction. A 45 minute taxi ride later, we arrived at Paje Beach, and I immediately began combing the beachfront hoping against hope that I might bump into Rad and his cronies.

And then it happened. Just as the sun was setting… I saw Rad’s unmistakably voluminous hair exiting a bungalow up the beach. After suffering through days of bad beats, it seemed my luck had turned. 12 hours later we’re staring into the eyes of 20 dolphins in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and I knew the next 10 weeks were going to change my life.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of this GlobeKick Story.