Back in the early 90s, twenty US dollars went a long way on the east coast of Zanzibar.

The latest episode of the NSITT podcast is about beaches. It got me thinking about the beaches I’ve loved in my travels.

Like Bwejuu Beach on the east coast of Zanzibar.

I dropped in on Bwejuu Beach on my big trip around the equator, a journey that will one day become a book called Going Around In Circles.

Back then, Bwejuu Beach took some getting to.

I had to hitch a ride on a dala dala from Stone Town. I would have missed the beach altogether if my fellow passengers hadn’t pointed out where I needed to get off.

At that time there was only one place to stay – the Bwejuu Dere Guest House.

The Dere was set in a whitewashed two-story building overlooking the beach. The rooms were bare but clean and mine had a view of the sea. Sure, the shower was outside but it had a bamboo screen that offered a modicum of decency.

And it was cheap.

In fact, it was too cheap.

You see, the Dere only took cash and the only cash I had was a $20US note.

Luckily, the Dere was the only place in town to eat and drink as well, so it was agreed that I would stay until I ran out of credit.

It took me ten days to work it down. It would have been sooner except the bar ran out of beer on my second night there. I was left to drink the local hooch, mixed with Fanta, an altogether more economical buzz.

It could have been worse. I could have been Ellen. She was the only other guest and a self-proclaimed Jewish American Princess.

She confided to me on the first night that she shoplifted as a hobby because it made her ‘feel alive.’

And that she’d paid with a fifty.

Me outside the Bwejuu Dere Guest House on Zanzibar
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