Thursday, January 12, 2006

Zanzibar

Up early to get ready for Zanzibar, must pack just one bag, leaving one bag at the Segelo. I am ready so I sit out on the second floor balcony, enjoying a last cup of coffee while we wait for the taxi's to come. I have noticed that cats tend to congregate on the tin roofs of the shacks across from the hotel and I grab my camera, hoping to capture some interesting photos. Of course, when I come back, the cats have moved on. So I sip my coffee and try to capture the life on the street below, the women file past in one direction swinging empty buckets and return with full buckets of water balanced on their heads. Amazing balance, the women work so hard here, I can't help but think how much I take for granted, like running water.

Street by the Segelo Inn

We decide we had better take our left luggage down so we are all ready when the taxi's get here, so I dash upstairs to grab my bag and then return to the balcony and realize I left my camera and it is gone! I was absolutely heartbroken, a young man had been staying at the hotel and man was he quick... the manager ran out to try to find him, but of course he was gone, never to return. Lesson learned the hard way.

We left for the ferry and I was in blue funk for the whole way. I stood out on the deck for over two hours and watched the water and clouds and dhows off in the distance. I can't stay down for long and did enjoy the trip but I wasn't especially cheerful for a while.

On the way to Zanzibar
We were met at the bustling ferry terminal/port. We had to clear customs, Zanzibar is semi-autonomous and checks all who enter. It was not a big deal, but slowed us down. We walked with our escort to the hotel, and the touts left us alone very quickly. The Malindi Guesthouse was very nice, we spent three nights there. As I mentioned before it was Ramadan, and Zanzibar is almost all Muslim, so we made sure to dress appropriately, and did not eat or drink in public during the day, but not all tourists were as respectful unfortunately. At night, after 8pm we went to the open air market, Forodani Gardens, and had a fabulous meal the second night there. There were many different vendor selling all kinds of fresh seafood, roasted on a stick for you, fresh sugar cane juice or coconut milk, there were Masaai selling their jewelry and goods and even a "pizza" man, who made to order dough wrapped, delicious concoctions. Mmmmmm... it was all so good.

Forodani Gardens, Stone Town

We went on a spice tour to a local farming area where spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and so much more, I can't remember it all. We also went to a local beach, saw the ruins of the Sultans bathhouses and old, hidden slave chambers where men, women and children were hidden from the officials before being sold to slavers.

cloves on spice tour

Stone Town, the major city on Zanzibar is full of amazing, old stone buildings, narrow streets, intricate carved doorways.

Stone Town door

Narrow streets of Stone Town

View of fishing port from the rooftop of the Malindi Guest house, Stone Town:
View from hotel in Stone Town
I would like to have spent more time exploring, I guess I will just have to go back. The wild cats are everywhere, there is no animal control, what would Bob Barker say?

wild cat in Stone Town
The next leg of our adventure takes us to the northwest coast, a beautiful, idyllic area called Kendwa. We stayed in bungalows up off the beach, but the restaurant/bar was on the beach and there were hammocks and swings and white sand everywhere and the most beautiful blue/green water imaginable. At first I didn't know what to do with myself after the constant activity, but after just one day there, all I wanted to do was laze about in my hammock and read and walk along the beach and feel the warmth of the Indian ocean and admire the shells on the beach.

Sunset Bungalows, Kendwa, Zanzibar

Beach at Kendwa

Unfortunately it all came to an end, with the Tanzanian elections coming we decided to return to Dar as the political unrest on the island was growing and there was a good chance that the ferry would stop running anytime now, in order to isolate the island from mainland influence.

We spent the last three days in Dar shopping, cleaning our clothes and packing and sorting. We went to an amazing open carving market, the Mwenge carving market. I bargained for some fabulous items.


A.W. and me bargaining for t-shirts:
Negotiating for t-shirts

I was feeling rather sad at leaving Tanzania, there was so much more to see. On hindsight, I should have stayed longer, I was there, my VISA was good for another month and I still had plenty of money.


We left on Sunday, October 30th, the day of the elections, it was unbelievably hot and humid and I had on more clothes than usual as we were flying into Amsterdam. At least I had a window seat, but could not see much but the lights of Dar es Salaam, which seemed go on forever. What a contrast from our arrival at Kilimanjaro, where there were only occasional lights scattered about and many of those were from fires ...

Badaaye Tanzania!

2 comments:

JB said...

My god, those pictures are beautiful! I love all the details in your last travel posts; it makes me feel like I am there, and then when I finfish reading I experience this longing, wishing I had been there.

Do you ever dream of your travels now that you’re home again?

librarychik said...

Oh, you have no idea. I think about it all the time. Perhaps some of that is due to the fact that I do not have a job yet (still looking), but I know that I will go back, and soon.

I highly recommend that you go. It truly is an amazing place. The experience of a lifetime.