Not all those who wander are lost - but I'll be disappointed if I don't get lost frequently!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A Word of Warning

When the Consequences of Sex on the Beach are More Than Sand in Unmentionable Places

Everywhere that I go in the world is different. From London to Lilongwe, each country has their own culture, food, architecture, sights and sounds. It's what makes exploring the world so exciting.

As each place has it's own beauty, they also have their own risks and dangers to be on guard for. Take Zanzibar for example.

Imagine that you are at a beach party, and the music is cranking. You and your dance floor partner are starting to feel the heat. No, not the oppressive humid weather (everyone is feeling that), but the other kind of heat.

You and your partner head up the beach, away from the party to a nice dark and secluded stretch of sand. You know how it goes: a blouse is unbuttoned, trousers drop to the sand, handcuffs come out...

...Hang on. Where the hell did those handcuffs come from?

Uh Oh. You are not alone any more.

While you were preoccupied, three men have appeared out of the darkness and slapped handcuffs on you and your partner. They say they are the police and that you have broken the law*. Handcuffed by strangers in a foreign country. What a nightmare!

The men insist that they are the police and will take you back to the station, but refuse to show any badges or ID. Pleading soon turns to haggling. They want three hundred euros to let you go. In your wallet there is five dollars. Your partner has twenty. Thankfully, neither of you had brought your credit and debit cards to the beach.

Seeing that you are not the cashed up tourists they thought you were they settled for the twenty five dollars and let you go. The fact that your important bits were still covered, you told them that you were married and nothing had actually happened when they cuffed you probably helped too.

Back at the beach party, your friends hadn't even realised you had been missing.


This true story happened to two travellers staying at the Paradise Hotel while I was there, and who had been to the same beach party as me. When they were recounting their experience to me, I couldn't believe that while I was dancing the night away, these poor guys were not far up the beach, handcuffed and hearts racing.

General travel advice for Zanzibar says to avoid isolated stretches of beach or being out walking anywhere at night when not in a large group. These situations make it easy for muggers to strike. It seems to me that the men on the beach weren't the police (not honest police officers anyway), but muggers who make a habit of preying on unsuspecting party goers who make their way up the beach looking for a bit of privacy.

So, be warned! At home, someone stumbling upon you getting hot and heavy in the sand may only cause a you a bit of embarrassment. Abroad, it may end in a mugging or even jail time.

*Nudity in public places including the beach is against the law in Zanzibar. Kissing in public is not customary and locals may find it offensive. More info can be found on the various Tanzania Embassy websites.

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