After 22 hours, four planes and three countries, I'm finally back in Charleston.
The trip was so amazing, and Zanzibar is a beautiful, exotic place to visit.
I'm happy to report that most of what I packed ended up being perfect for the trip, such as the sleeveless ruffle-neck silk top I wore with khaki shorts for my birthday dinner, where the waiters sang to me in Swahili. I also got a lot of mileage out of a wide-brimmed straw hat my sister repeatedly called my sombrero and the strapless batik tunic that retains its place as my favorite item to bring along on trips because it's so versatile.
One slight style setback was the fact that I ended up wearing a pair of sturdy Chacos most of the time due to the fact that we were frequently walking out to boats during low tide. The combination of muck, saltwater and spiny sea urchins would've doomed my cute gladiator sandals.
More style angst involved feeling slightly conspicuous in bikinis in front of the locals even when I was on a boat or by the pool. A modest one-piece probably would've been a better choice.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is finding unusual souvenirs, and on this trip that turned out to be a kanga.
Seen throughout Tanzania and Kenya, the kanga is a printed piece of cotton material that's worn every day and has a multitude of other uses. The local women wear them as a pair called a "doti," using one to cover the head and upper body and another they fashion into a long skirt.
My sister, who's living in the western city of Mbeya, wears hers like a sarong, twisting the ends and tying them behind her neck.
Early on in the trip, I got used to wearing a kanga because the first two resorts we stayed at provided them in the rooms for guests to wear. When going to the beach or to the pool, I'd bring the ends together in front of me and tie them in a knot just above my chest. But the genius of a kanga is that it also can be used as a tablecloth, curtain, apron, towel, sling to carry a baby (I saw this so many times in Zanzibar) or shawl.
The most distinctive characteristic of a kanga is that every one comes with a Swahili phrase or proverb printed on the fabric. It's used to communicate advice, warnings or romantic expressions of love.
Mine says, "Usisafirie nyota ya mwenzio." The literal translation warns against setting sail using someone else's star, but the real meaning is to follow your own destiny.
Hopefully one day, my destiny will take me back to Zanzibar.
For now, I'm happy to be home.
Rebekah Bradford is a freelance writer based in Charleston. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.