Zanzibar

Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
1
5
77
Trip End Feb 22, 2012


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Where I stayed
Stone Town

Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Archipelago,
Friday, November 19, 2010

Hello everyone! I have been slow on the updates lately as not had enough time on the Internet, so am posting my updates now! Photos to follow soon :) So I have found Paradise on Zanzibar island ... it is absolutely beautiful! Perfect white sand, crystal clear waters ... I have spent a week here with another volunteer from England, Lorella (hi Lorella!!!). We got off to a bumpy start, literally .... we flew here from Arusha with the cheapest airline we could find ... I knew that
they flew 'small' planes but we got on the 8 seater plane, the pilot told us there were no seats left so Lorella had to sit up front next to the pilot, I was sitting behind him and we were literally too scared to move. At this point I'm asking myself why didn't we pay the extra $60 for a proper plane?! We were mostly flying straight through clouds and the pilot was READING HIS BOOK instead of looking where he was going ... at one point Lorella heard the message come through 'traffic! traffic'!' then the pilot suddenly steered us the other way. About an hour in I thought well if I do survive this then I'll probably want a few photos so managed to get my camera out and take a few shots.

Anyway we arrived safe and sound in Stone Town and headed to the beaches in the north, about an hour from Stone Town. We were shocked at how less developed Zanzibar is than we had been imagining, the closer we got to Kendwa the more worried we were getting - where were the big streets full of hotels and tourists that we were warned about?! Having not booked anything, who needs to plan, This Is Africa!! (TIA, thanks Erin) we had to try three hotels before we found one that had space and its own bathroom. Actually the last hotel was amazing, right on the beach. We were ready to go back to Stone Town if this one hadn't worked out. After spending a month trying to convince the locals that just because we are white does not mean we are loaded with money, we are there to volunteer etc etc, we were so desperate to find a room that we paid $80 a night and threw more cash at our long suffering taxi driver we had bargained so hard with in the first place. Obviously thinking we wouldn't be happy with anything he still wouldn't leave until he saw us pay. We headed straight for the bar and a cocktail, OMG we felt guilty. All we could think was how this money could have sent a child to school for a term, paid a teacher for a month ($20 a month can pay an orphanage teachers salary) or and bought bananas for a class for a year. At least we supported the economy was what we kept telling ourselves.

We thought we'd stay for 2 nights, then move somewhere cheaper (this was hardly the budget I was planning) but after two nights there we couldn't face moving we loved it so much. So
Zanzibar has become the "holiday" of my trip where I am allowed to treat myself!! We spent every day on the beach, until we got sunburned (damn malaria pills!!) and swimming in the sea, and the evenings scouring the beaches looking for night life .... there was hardly anyone around, not exactly the reams of tourists we were expecting. A local guy called Farook became obsessed with Lorella, we could not get rid of him even when we actually ignored him. Heading out to a party on the beach, we went into a 'club' - an outdoor area playing a weird mix of music, turns out it was someone's ipod on shuffle and headed to the bar. We had been hit by the hotel money bureau where they fleece you with charges, so much so we could only manage one withdrawal each. So since we couldn't afford to take out any more cash here, we only had a
few pounds on us. After the humiliation of asking what the cheapest alcoholic drink was, still we couldn't even afford a single rum and coke between us. This was definitely a low point in my life!! Not to worry the bar owner took pity on us and bought us some real drinks :)

Dancing on the sand with some Masaii guys who turn up in full Masaii robes carrying their sticks was a new one. After a few nights out only being able to afford a single Fanta, going out had become boring. It is however impossible to get bored of the beaches. Picture perfect scenes are around each corner, fishing boats are the only objects on the horizon and you can swim for hours. In Lorella I have found another girl who loves to eat as much as I do - we spent most of the time either buying snacks, eating snacks or planning where to eat for dinner :)

We spent the last two days in Stone Town, totally different to Arusha and predominantly Muslim so time to cover up again! :( Interesting architecture and loads of narrow alleyways. Interesting
because you can see both the Portugese and the Persian influences. Zanzibar has been ruled by both Portugese, Dutch, Arabs and the British and others as well. We visited the old slave chambers which was shocking. Thousands of slaves were brought to Zanzibar and kept in
chambers until they were sold under a building which is now the Anglican Cathedral. We visited the house of Tippu Tip, a notorious slave trader. The church was built by an English missionary who bought the freedom of slaves, then trained them to build the cathedral. The alter is built over the location of the whipping post, where slaves were whipped to test their strength. Most of the slaves died before reaching Zanzibar as the trek was too long and hard. It wasn't until 1897 that slave trading was abolished after British intervention.

We also did a spice tour which was cool, ate pineapples straight from the tree and drank coconut milk :) On the last day I had a go at snorkelling off of Prison Island that has great coral reefs ... unfortunately the trip was a total disaster. First my tour group never showed up so the guide pulled two random women off the street and convinced them to join, we set off and I realised there were no life jackets so we had to go back for them. The life jackets were way too
big for me and so were useless anyway. Luckily one of the women was a nurse and a lifeguard so I figured it was safe to go on! The guide didn't speak much English so couldn't teach me what to do, I was just flailing around in the water kicking the corel with my flippers and panicking when I saw the others had swam off into the distance. The coral was amazing though and loads of colourful fishes, a totally different world that I was previously oblivious to. I kept telling myself there were no jellyfish so no need to worry about them ... then there was a scream and one of the women had been stung by a jellyfish on her FACE so that was it I was outta there!! The best bit was the giant tortoises that live on Prison Island, the oldest is about 180 years old. They are huge, and you can feed them and stroke them, really cool.

So after a week on Zanzibar, I caught the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam. I had several hours to kill in Dar before my flight, and I was too tight to pay for a hotel room for just a few hours so wasnt looking forward to tonight. But I made a brilliant new friend on the way, hi Erin and thanks for the bag of goodies!!! Erin also had to hang around all night for her flight. The ferry ride was fine until they started showing violent Chinese movies and handed out sick bags.We headed to an area that had been recommended by friends, the Slipway complex. This was weird - like being in the Truman Show. An artificial world built for the wealthier white people. It turned out EVERYTHING was shut on a Sunday. Asking the hotel owner where there was a restaurant, a bar, a shop, an internet cafe, every time he replied 'ah yes it is possible, but it is closed today on Sunday'. This seemed so funny that we had a laughing fit, which just offended him as he gave us a lecture about things shutting down due to the church. We found a restaurant that was
open, and ordered a complicated pizza without cheese and with loads of veggies, Erin also loves to eat and orders pizza without cheese :) She later negotiated (or should I say bribed!!!) the hotel staff to give us a room for a few hours for the grand sum of $20 instead of the usual
rate of over $100. Thinking it would be a box room, we were delighted to find it was a full on suite with kitchen and lounge area, result!!! So after a fun, really random and slightly surreal night at 2am I left Tanzania for good ... goodbye Tanzania and hello Zambia!
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Comments

TonLoc on

What a lovely adventure, and great pictures! Really good info. I'll be in Zanzibar and Dar next month (Feb) so this really helps to picture reality. Thanks!

maz360
maz360 on

Hi there! Really glad you like it, and hope you have a fantastic time in Tanz, it's a wonderful country. Let me know if you have any questions :)

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