On the morning of the 12th of August 2009, we were driven down from Stone Town to the south of Zanzibar, to a little town called Kizimkazi where we would search for and swim with the dolphins.
After getting our flippers and snorkelling gear, we got on the boat and headed out to sea. The guy on our boat was a very small guy called Hassan. His English wasn’t too good but from the short conversation we managed, he became determined to let me swim with the dolphins as close as possible. It occurred to me that the very few English words a non-English speaking person would know would vary a lot depending on where they are from and the job they do. So the few words Hassan knows very well would be “Look down look down” so you can see the dolphins swimming in the water.
The sea was very rough and it had been years since I last put on a snorkel mask. I needed the practice before actually jumping into the deep sea and go looking for dolphins! It did not help that Hassan was dragging me by the hand when I was swallowing so much sea water and was gasping for air like a fish out of water.
As with the experience of swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines, there were many others boats out at sea and there were always too many snorkelers by the time we reached where the dolphins were spotted.
At one point the dolphins came from the right side of our boat heading our way and Ida quickly pushed Jo off wanting to make sure he’d get the awesome experience. He used his goggles which I should have done and really swam with the dolphins. He said they were just an arm length away but he didn’t dare to touch them. People really did swim with the dolphins.
I was really sad. I should have been more courageous and borrowed Ida’s goggles and tried again. I guess I was just really traumatized. It was very scary: every time I tried to breathe with my mouth I was swallowing sea water and every time I tried to breathe with my nose, there was just no air to breathe from. The rough sea and having thrown up no thanks to being seasick did not help. I still wish I made that other plunge with Jo. Lucky him. Better luck this Easter when we are in Mauritius where one can swim with dolphins there too!
I had a much better experience the following day when I spent the afternoon with some locals in a village in northern Zanzibar.