My Disaster in Zanzibar

You know when you just do everything wrong!

Yep, a few weeks ago that was me!

I’m a pretty cautious person; always double (and sometimes triple) checking my essentials, always keeping my carry on bag on my person, locking things up, keeping monies or bank cards separate, pretty much anything I can do to insure the security of my belongings. However, after nearly 7 months of travelling around, it was only a matter of time before I dropped the ball and messed up – and I’m sorry to say that a few weeks ago I achieved my biggest party foul to date! Resulting in my purse being stolen; including my debit card, credit card, driving licence, and the equivalent of about £100 in cash.

As the title indicates, this all happened in Zanzibar. The place that I had wanted to go for some chill time, to relax and generally unwind. I’d been stressing myself over a ton of things recently; work, money, writing, a project that seems to be going nowhere – I wanted a place where I could just switch off, and Zanzibar seemed like a place I could do this.

In fairness, aside from my disaster, Zanzibar would have served me very well. The beaches were incredible; white sands, warm aqua blue sea, and tree house style accommodation.


View from our backpackers.

For the first day it had seemed idealistic, bloody expensive, but worth it just for a couple of days. One of the things that had stood out to me the most was the incredible colours, particularly those of the women, and the clothes they wore. Beautiful sarongs, dresses, hijab’s, even the khimar’s – were just these stunning array of bright oranges, pinks and yellows, and all the other colours of the rainbow. These, against the contrast of their skin, and the lighting of the sun beaming through the trees, had me mesmorised! I couldn’t help staring. They were happy, liberated women; giggling like teenagers as they walked side by side along the street, or rode together in the back of a dalla dalla. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but whatever it was, for the most part, sounded like it was bloody hilarious! I found myself laughing along with them. They were probably thinking ‘who is this nutter, laughing when she doesn’t know what she’s laughing at.’ Come to think of it perhaps that’s one of the things they were laughing about! Who knows, who cares! I was happy just to be there, to be a part of their they happy chuckles and beautiful colours.

I treated myself and bought a locally hand-made pair of sandals. There were so many to chose from, each pair as gorgeous as the next …it was like Sophie’s choice! How the hell do you decide. After much deliberation, and asking of ”okay which ones do you prefer?” I finally settled on a pair. Usually the next day I change my mind, I’m not really very good at making decisions – especially decisions based around fashion! I have made many a styling faux pas in my day, and I’m sure there are people out there who would vouch for it! But no…I was happy with these, and am pleased to say I’ve worn them on a regular bases since.


Happy with my new purchase

The rest of the time I mainly just chilled on the beach, played football with some of the local kids – I say ‘football’ but what I really mean is chasing the kids as they ran away with the ball – and enjoyed a couple of afternoon beers.


Terrible hand ball fouls happening here!

When I look back, just talking/writing about it, these things would have been enough for me – I’m not someone who needs to go partying, I very rarely crave it, if at all anymore. I’m happier just soaking up a bit of my surroundings, sitting and chatting with friends, or even just by myself (not chatting though in this case, I haven’t reached total loonsville just yet). Enjoying a good glass of wine, or G&T (depending on the mood), some nice background musicand just an overall pleasant surrounding. I don’t care if that sounds old and boring. One of the beauties of getting older is that we care less and less about what others think of our habits… and man do I love that! I always used to care way too much when I was younger.

….This all being said, this leads us to the evening of the incident (she says with a heavy sigh). One of my new travelling buddies had been told of a full moon party happening on the other side of the island. When I heard that, my heart kinda sunk. I’d been to a full moon party once before, eight years ago in Thailand – well actually it was a black moon party, but you know now they have a beach party for every god damn day of the week; full moon, black moon, half moon, blinkin’ Tuesday night moon!  – It was the only time in my life I’d ever had my bag stolen from me. I should’ve heard the warning bells then eh…

…but what do I do instead? I decide not only to go to the party, but I would do so with the entire amount of cash I had, still inside my purse. With both of my bank cards inside, my driving license, and to top it all of I’d bring my iPhone out with me as well. Not only this but I also decided that I would take the responsibility of my belongings away from me, and pass them on to someone else. Putting them into the small rucksack that a friend of mine was carrying. Not good. Responsibility gone equals guard down!

The evening had started off low-key, just some beers on the beach and some chats and giggles with friends. Before we knew it a few hours had passed. It was obviously dark, besides the glare of artificial light darting around the place, and the music was loud. Long story short; the bag had been put on the ground, attention to the bag had been turned off. Once noticed again, the purse was gone, and my iPhone was gone. Fuck! (Excuse my French. Sorry dad).

How had I let this happen again! I officially HATE all full moon parties!!!

I was devastated.

Just before we had left for the party, I was umming and arghing about whether or not to bring all my money out. It’s not something I normally do. In the end, because we didn’t know how much the cost of the taxi was going to be bringing us home again, I decided to take it all with me. We should have planned better and pre-arranged our pick up, a cost already confirmed. Never carry a large amount of money around with you if you don’t need to, especially when you know there is going to be drinking involved, and you’re in a vulnerable environment. Lesson number one learnt with a smack round the face! Hindsight truly is a bitch ain’t she.

Why though did I have both my bank cards together! The entire time I had been in Nepal, India and Turkey I had kept them separate. Why had I then put them together in Africa! What was I thinking. Always keep your emergency credit card somewhere separate to your everyday debit card. Lesson number two.

As the realisation settled in that my stuff had been taken, we went in hunt to see if they could be found. A slim to nil chance…but ya never know.

I personally found nothing, not surprising really considering I can never find whats literally right in front of my face! Much to my mum’s regular annoyance:

“Mum it’s not here…”

”It is Jenni, just look…”

“I’m telling you mum I’ve looked, it’s not here!”

“If I come up them stairs and they’re there I’m guna bloody”…… “Look Jenni, here you go, right in front of you!”


This is a conversation I’ve had many a time in my life. I generally don’t understand it.

…but do you know what? My friend Tim only went and found my bloody purse! Money was gone but my bank cards were still there.

Hallelujah!! I would definitely take that as a silver lining. I couldn’t believe it …so happy.

When we finally got home, my friend went to get my stuff from his bag….purse gone! GONE! My purse had been taken for the second time that night. A person honest to God could not make this up. Lesson number three….Carry your own shit!

I mean it’s no ones fault other than the arsehole who takes the stuff…but we can do our best to prevent it from happening. If you’re carrying your own stuff, your guard is hopefully up and you’re on the ball a hell of a lot more.

Now I know it’s all been doom and gloom, and this entire evening had sadly put a very sour taste in my mouth, but there is a slightly happy ending to my failed night out in Zanzibar; I got my iPhone back!

We’d obviously tried ringing it (a bizillion times) from Tim and Matts phones’, and the next morning the lovely person who had found my phone called us back. It was over at the hotel the full moon party had been held at. The cleaner had found it wrapped up in toilet tissue, inside the bin of the men’s toilets. God knows. The cleaner could have easily kept it, or asked for money for the return of it. I had been explained by many people who were trying to help me that this is normally the protocol; if someone finds it, they want money to return it. This kind man did neither. I hugged him.

Lesson number four, and probably the most important one of all, even when something bad has happened, never lose faith in the goodness of people.

About a week after all this happened I was going through my backpack…and what did I find? I found the flat money belt I’d been given before I left England. A party like this is the perfect reason to have, and use (I might add), one of these belts. If I’d have only remembered I had the damn thing my money would have been strapped to me the entire night, no way for it to be stolen…



After thought: When I’ve written above “lesson number….” – it’s not that they were lessons I had never known about… I mean it’s pretty much basic common sense not to carry all your money, bank cards, etc. altogether when going out to a party where knowingly there are going to be criminals on the prowl. It’s more that sometimes we need a gentle reminder – or in this case a punch in the gut reminder – not to get too complacent. We all do it, we all might get a little too relaxed, let our guard down, and it can result in us making silly decisions, or forgetting the simplest of our basic security measures. Don’t beat yourself up about it for too long, just make sure you learn from it so that hopefully it doesn’t happen again.

So, whilst it’s good to have fun, don’t forget to keep focused peeps! 😉


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