It is ferry and water and wind – bright white blue air. Behind us is Dar which we managed to rush through, off buses with our rucksacks heavy on our backs. We have a moment with the island immigration, sing them a song we learnt in school and they agree not to lock us up.
Stone Town is made of streets that wind, making us lose ourselves so we follow the electric wires which hang loose and haphazard over our heads. There is the knowledge that the sea is there, that we cannot see it, but feel it somehow. Forty-two steps up is a rooftop where Sarah and I sit and speak about the places we know, the people we love, make plans for the future, when we live together, when the girls have babies. The feeling of this, here, now a bubble in my chest.
The port is two streets away, the rooftops around us and four floor down are voices, women cooking in metal sufurias, a cat and her three kittens falling over each other on a front step lit all day by the sun.
But there are also tourist shops and we decide to move on.
Jambiani is a village on the east coast of the island and we stay in a place run by rastas who cook us fish, let us make drinks, smoke with us and take us out dancing. In the village we walk barefoot along the sand tracks, through houses with the sound of the wind in the palm trees. The tide is out and we follow the line of turquoise; out there, the waves are breaking on the reef and at night the stars are huge and many.
Said’s friend takes us snorkelling through the fronds of coral and the tugging swell of the Indian Ocean. We cook with Zee, Mudi and Dullah: grill fish and eatwith our fingers out on the sand.
To be a child here is not to grow up – turning cartwheels and handstands on the beach, to spend the afternoons finding empty husks fallen from the trees, and to throw them with all your strength at your friend. It’s to sail out at five and to chase old bicycle tyres along the waterline.