Hakuna Matata on our last day
Trip Start Mar 22, 2012
11Trip End Apr 01, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
What I did
spice tour, stone town, House of Wonders
Our last day of vacation. We hear the call to prayer at 4:30 a.m. and it sounds like the same melodious voice but over the course of this week, seems like he's gotten a bit of a cold or a sore throat. This morning, he kind of screeched through the call and faded away totally at the end.
We had arranged with Unique Zanzibar to do a Stone Town tour and a Spice Tour. Unique Zanzibar arrives and we are escorted back the way we originally came, through the disreputable alleys to the car and taken over to the Anglican Cathedral which was built on the site of the original slave market. We are handed over to a local guide who is going to show us the town and then take us back to our hotel on foot.
We start with the slave market site and the church. Our guide is a wonderful storyteller and has much to tell about the ancient days when slave trading was commonplace and people’s lives didn’t mean much. The church was built over the original market and to keep it fresh in the minds of everyone, how cruel humans can be to one another, the stones in front of the altar are red for the blood shed by the slaves and there is a round stone there where the pillar once stood where slaves were chained and auctioned.
We wander over to the market and for once, a guide says I can take photos but he says that I should be circumspect and not let people see me too much and take general type photos so that no one thinks I am zeroing in on them. I can do that. There is the fish market, meat market, bird market, spice market, housewares market and tourist type junk market. We meander through the fish market looking to see fish we can identify underwater, walk swiftly through the meat market where there are steer skulls with a lot of meat on them and eyes and horns and looking horrific, pass on the bird market and stop in the spice market but are assured that we will have ample opportunity to buy spices on our spice tour.
We walk past the Turkish baths which our guide said wasn’t hardly anything now and walk past the studded door of one of the Sultan’s women, and head down an alley where there are jewelry stores. I like jewelry. I had seen a nice pair of white gold earrings shaped like Africa and with tanzanite stones in them that I really liked. I had tried to forget about them but thought as long as we were in the jewelry section, I should have a look. We found the same earrings in a branch of the shop where we had seen them before. I started bargaining. They wanted quite a lot of money for them but I managed to get them down to a bit less than half price. Usually I figure that’s about right for a good price. So got my earrings! We see the house where Freddie Mercury of Queen was born. it's privately owned by other people now and our guide seems a bit put out that Queen never did a concert here. He was also a bit miffed that Masai warriors are coming into town now and becoming shop owners. they are going with the times and adapting but our guide thought it was beneath them.
We are back in the street where our two pesky vendors work but since we are with a guide this time, they start for us and then back off. Nice having protection. We continue around to the old fort which is not a fort anymore but has entertainment inside and some shops. That was a bit disappointing. At least the walls are still good. Our guide asks us if we know about the night market and yes we do. He takes us to the old Sultan’s palace which is now The House of Wonders. It is a fine museum and he leaves us to wander around it at our leisure. It is hot and I’m tired and my foot now is giving me grief so I let my husband wander a bit while I wait at the stairs for him because we want to go to the balcony and see the view.
It is a remarkable view of the harbor and bay and you can walk around the building and see the town. We tried to find our hotel but it was behind some other buildings. Back down to our guide who is waiting outside with other guides. This completed our tour and he was going to walk us back to our hotel but we asked instead for him to call the driver and have him pick us up at Archipelago restaurant instead. That’s the restaurant where they don’t serve any alcoholic beverages but we thought we could have lunch there. Our guide accomplished this and then walked us to the restaurant even though we knew where it was. Nice of him to do this so that the two vendors left us alone still.
Upstairs to the restaurant and we got a nice table overlooking the bay and first thing we ordered was some lovely iced tea. Boy did it taste really good. We are noticing that other people enter and look at the menu and talk to the staff and then get up and leave. Guess people coming in to have a beer with their lunch is not that unusual and guess the same people getting up to leave when they find out there is no alcohol is also not unusual. There were a lot of families there for lunch including one group of kids who are there for a birthday party. We have a good lunch and still have about 40 minutes before our driver will pick us up here.
Downstairs was an intriguing store that said art and antiques and it looked dark and dusty and crammed full on interesting stuff so we went into the store. It was Lookmanji Arts and Antiques. We wandered around for a bit and found some old sextants. My hubby has been interested in sextants for a long time and I convinced him that he should get one and the price was not too bad. Unfortunately, he forgets to bargain and he told the storeowner that we would take it before I even had a chance to say "would you take …!" Luckily the storeowner was a very nice man and I managed to convince him to throw in a nice box as well. There were some other very interesting antiques in there and it is a good thing we were at the end of our trip and I only had time for one visit to this store and also good that our luggage was so limited in weight. He does have a web site though!
Outside to wait for our driver and he comes around the corner to pick us up in a few minutes, just as the two vendors had spotted us! Off we go and we asked him to stop at the Barclay’s bank so we could visit the ATM to get enough money to pay our dive bill. We had been to Barclay’s on another day and when we drove into the building’s parking lot which was fenced and gated; two guards came to the car with mirrors and checked under the car for bombs. Wow, and everyone keeps assuring us this is a very safe place! Our driver today took us to a different Barclay’s so no mirrors and bomb checking today.
We pass several signs that say “spice tours” and point down roads. Our driver finally turns into one that says “Dole spice tour”. We think this means as in Dole pineapple but it doesn’t. We are given over to the guide and the driver says he will be back in two or three hours and tells the guide to take a very long time with us. OH MY Gosh. I so did not want to hear that but he’s gone almost before the words even register.
So off we go with the guide and he is taking us about 10 steps and then stopping in front of a bush or a tree and asking us to guess what it is. Sometimes we actually know and other times we don’t but he wants us to try with each one. For a while it was kind of fun and if we got it right, we got a high five. He has a companion guide who goes and gets different roots or leaves for him. This man is also busy making things out of strips of leaves. He has made a cone shaped container and our guide says it is for “mama” (that’s me, sometimes I’m Mrs.) to put in the different leaves and such that we collect as we are moving through the forest.
We are indeed moving very slowly. Soooo slowly. I’m getting tired already and we’ve only been moving and walking about an hour. I had no idea they could stretch these things into several hours long. Companion guide is still busy making things when he isn’t getting leaves. Each time we have a new leaf, our guide crushes it for the smell and we must guess what it is. We move into a village area where there are a couple of women and about 5 children wandering around their homes and fields and getting water out of a well. An older woman walks up to the front of her hut and unwraps her head covering and lays down on the dirt, covers herself up with the headscarf and goes to sleep. There are some cows around and we avoid the cow patties as we are taken to the field to see what is planted.
I’m feeling a bit tired and rebellious now because my arthritis is hurting from all the standing and not walking so I ask to sit down. Our guide takes us to the place where we get to try the fruit that they grow. We have a watermelon, an avocado (biggest one we have ever seen), a mango, and orange (which for some reason is always green here). We give our fruit boys each a tip. Then our guide wants us to continue walking through the forest and now we get a new tree climbing guide. He is going to climb up to the top of a coconut tree and get a coconut. He does this with just a piece of rope that he loops around his bare feet and uses the rope as an anchor. He falls off once but he’d just started so didn’t hurt. He shouts and sings all the way up and our guide keep encouraging me to take a video.
Oddly enough, the phrase “hakuna matata” is used quite frequently in Zanzibar. Before the Lion King, most of us had never heard of this but it is an actual Swahili phrase that translates loosely to “no worries” or “there are no worries”. We have heard this phrase a lot since being in Zanzibar and even bought a small sarong in the market this morning that said that. Our coconut tree climber shouted it out numerous times as he climbed the tree. Whether he was shouting it out for us or for himself, who knows. He gets his coconut and carries it about half way down the tree before he drops it on the ground and then gets himself the rest of the way down the tree. Our companion guide is meanwhile still frantically making things with his leaf strips.
Finally we are almost done with the spice tour. There was one tree that was quite pretty with bright red seed pods. I asked about it several times but we were not allowed to get out of order. Our guide finally got to this tree in his spiel and the companion guide got one of the seed pods and broke it open. He smashed the seeds inside and it turned into a red paste. He used this paste to smear on his lips and make marks on his face and turn a small section of his hair red. It is called a Lipstick tree and the women use it for cosmetics and warriors also used it in olden days to make themselves fierce looking. I liked it the best.
We are taken to another seating area where coconut man breaks open the coconut for us. A rooster that had been following us was well aware of this procedure and waited for the top of the coconut and then launched into it pecking away at the coconut meat. We were told he was a spice chicken because he ate so many of the spice leaves that he needed no seasoning to be cooked. We are given the coconut to drink the water in it which was quite tasty. They pulled out some of the coconut meat to eat too and when it is that fresh, it is called coconut jelly which I don’t care to eat as it is too slimy for me but my husband and the rooster sure liked it.
Now companion man is furiously trying to finish a crown. He has one made for my husband and gets mine finished too. We are presented with a whole variety of things he has made. We each get a crown and a watch and a ring. My hubby gets a tie and I get earrings and a necklace and a carry bag. These are all made of leaves. It is quite intricate that he has made these and woven them together. At last we are finished with the tour and go to the one spice table where there is one man selling some spices and we get a few but they didn’t have the ones we really wanted. It did help the villagers to buy it there so we didn’t mind getting a few things.
Our driver had shown up again finally and takes us back into town along with all our hand woven goodies. The guide and companion guide did do a good job but it was way more than I wanted, to spend a hot afternoon wandering in a circle in the woods. We stop in the same place and our driver asks if we know how to get to our hotel from this direction. We’ve done it twice but it’s an odd way for us so he takes us back to the hotel and we make sure that he is going to pick us up at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning for our flight back to Dar es Salaam. I am carrying my leaf crown in my hand and a boy comes by on a bicycle and holds out his hand so I put the crown in it as he scurries by on his bike. When we reach the room, I put all the leaf items outside because I don't want to risk any bugs getting in the room.
We must go now to the dive shop and pay for the rest of our diving. At least we do have the money now in shillings. We also have to pay the hotel for our tours and we know we must get rid of all our shillings before leaving the country or we’ll be stuck with them because nobody else wants to exchange them. This is our last night so we want to go to Mercury’s for dinner because it’s sort of been “our place”. We hike down past the night market which is just getting started and reach the dive shop in plenty of time to pay the remainder of our bill and say goodbye and hope we get to come again. Then back to Mercury’s for happy hour and then dinner. The beach football game starts again and once the ball hit the wall close to me and I am showered with sand and water.
When the sun goes down, the staff takes the umbrellas down over the tables. The power goes out and the candles come out. Every day at 7:30 a.m. and then again at 6:30 p.m., there are air raid sirens that sound throughout the town. If we are inside in our room, there was a good chance we wouldn't hear it. If we were outside, depending on where we were in town, it was quite loud. The first time we heard it, we asked our hotel manager what it was and should we be concerned. he said originally that's what it was for but now the a.m. siren is to let government workers know they should be at work and if they are not, they are late and have to report to the boss when they get to work. The 6:30 p.m. is to let the government workers know it is time to go home, day over.
A good dinner, the lights return, we go back to our hotel and work out our bill and get rid of most of our shillings, say goodbye to the staff who have been so very, very helpful and then go upstairs to pack our bags for our trip back to England.