Bright violent sunlight streams from a nearly cloudless, blue sky striking the soft wet sands of the early morning Swahili Coast. Wooden dhows rest motionlessly atop of tiny pools waiting for the ocean's water to roll back in, waiting to bob and weave while in pursuit of fish with their fishermen friends again. Cloaked in vibrant khanga cloth, the women of the village move away from their jagged coral, shell, and concrete constructed abodes.
For me, the scene resembles that of an African-inspired impressionist work of art, but in real life. Watching with tremendous interest as the women continue carrying dark baskets in hand or on head, they walked deeper inward towards the ocean. Diving into their reality and into my holiday daydream, I decided to follow them. Their place of work is on oceanic underwater seaweed farms which are exposed and workable during low tide. Time is of the essence. Their duties include plucking, tying, and cultivating brilliant shades of green, coral and mustard-colored seaweed and sea flower. Seeing them work reminds me that I am worlds away from home. Looking in the faces of other travelers, I can sense they feel the same.
Just around half past noon when the waves slowly ascended back onto the shoreline, the women retreat back to the village. It is said the seaweed which they carry back will be left to dry for days under the sun’s heated gaze. When it is finally dry, it will then be bundled up, packed and tossed onto a dalla-dalla headed for Stone Town. Used by the Japanese for certain beauty and cosmetic products, the seaweed’s fate ends in as far of a place as where it began. However, the real beauty comes from the village ladies of Jambiani who farm the stained-glass blue Indian Ocean waters day in and day out.