Stone Town's House of Wonders & More

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
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Trip End Dec 10, 2011


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Zanzibar Museum - House of Wonders

Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Urban/West,
Friday, December 2, 2011


I am still on a bed - one of two - at reception of the Kinazi Upepo Beach Hotel in Paje patiently waiting for the van to Stone Town.

Juliet was up early.  I got up after her, but it was still before 7 am.  We went for a swim/dip and then to breakfast but had to wait 15 min. for the egg, pancake and coffee part since they had run out of cooking gas the night before.  It must be the rowdy men ate a lot.

When I went to reception, the man said they  had not been able to reach the taxi man earlier and he could only get here 10:00 at the earliest so I used the extra time to work on my roadrunner emails.  Now I am done writing notes for today and need to go into a zen space until the taxi arrives.  Maybe I will lie down on this bed and catch up on sleep.  The mosquitoes were quite nasty here - the kind you don't hear - the malaria-bearing type.

So my patience ran out - no van at 10 am and I waited and waited until it became apparent that it would only be  the 10:30 shuttle.  Finally it came and they said they needed to wait for people.  I waited...then I started pacing...and suddenly they were ready.  I really don't understand the process.

We drove to Stone Town and it started raining but mostly stopped when we got there.  Juliet arranged for us to see a new place which she thought was better and priced at only $40 per night.  70 Tanzanian shillings.  They drove us back to the Karibu Hotel and I got my bag and they drove us back.  We freshened up and went out for a walk around town.  I took photos of doors and windows and we checked out the Tembo Hotel and the Zanzibar Serena Hotel before going to the Abyssinian Restaurant.  Juliet noticed a young woman eating alone at her table and invited her to join us.  Anigna is Swiss and just finished her nursing program and is working as a nurse.  Her parents own a ski lodge in Switzerland.  She stayed with us the rest of the day and evening and it turned out that she was in the room next to ours at the Garden Lodge.  She just finished up a shorter GAP tour and was on her own until tomorrow when she flies home.

We enjoyed our combination Ethiopian lunch and then headed off to the House of Wonders Museum that Anigna had planned to see.  It took a long time because we shopped and bought quite a lot between the 3 of us.  Anigna and Juliet are much better bargainers than I am.  Anigna bought a huge Tinga-Tinga  painting for 45 shillings.

There was a tremendous downpour at one point and we took cover in the shops.  One shop seemed to have good prices, without haggling, and I bought most of my purchases there:  postcards, books for Theo, kanga cloths.  We managed to get to the Museum by 6 pm and stayed after it closed at 7 pm.  I started rushing out because I almost got locked in when I heard voices and Juliet and Anigna had climbed to the 3rd floor balcony and were enjoying the sunset there.  You could look down on the night market which was starting up and walk all around the balcony to get a 360 view of the harbor and steeples and minarets in the dusk.  I ran around and took some photos.  As we went down the grand staircases in the dark, we found the front door locked but a caretaker took us out through the back door.

At this point  Anigna and Juliet were thirsty so we went over to the market and Anigna recommended the sugar cane drink.  It was fantastic!  We watched as the vendor squashed some canes in his wringer machine and poured out the juice into huge glass mugs.  We each had one for only a shilling apiece I think - or a dollar.  Either way, it was the best bargain since they were so large and definitely thirst-quenching.  Anigna couldn't finish hers so I had half of hers as well as mine.

Juliet then began to look around at the food stalls.  Finally we ended up at Hakim's stall.  Anigna recommended him by saying that all those from her group that ate at Hakim's stayed well while the others got sick.  Juliet had another falafel.  I had a plate with a skewer each of shrimp and lobster with masala spices and a hunk of breadfruit chopped up.  It was a bit disappointing - the masala masked the taste of the seafood (if it was seafood-I began to have doubts when I found gristle in the lobster instead of shells) and the breadfruit was kind of starchy and tasteless but it was fun to try it.

A painting hawker sold Juliet a painting for 10 shillings after telling her he would sell her two for 10.  Then he started berating her for not buying more of his paintings.  After that he offered her the lot - 25 paintings - for $50.  I think Juliet should have bought them for her Tinga gallery in West Hartford.  We couldn't finish our meals and gave what was left to a man who had come by our table asking for food.  I think we were all pretty tired at this point and decided to walk back to the hotel.  The hawkers were getting weird.  Hoards of cats descended on the garbage cans....but they looked pretty healthy.  Back at the hotel, I wrote out my Tanzania postcards for mailing from Zanzibar and now I was ready to sleep.
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