Getting Tourism right – 3rd world style in Z

Trip Start Jan 30, 2010
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Trip End Jun 07, 2010


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Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Archipelago,
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I woke up at 530 Monday morning to head over as early as possible to Zanzibar. In a moment of pure brilliance I decided that I'd only take over my small detachable bag and laptop.  I packed in my essential toiletries, underwear a few tshirts and boardshorts, tied my sleeping bag, snorkel and mask onto the straps and left the 'mothership’ backpack behind- it has made life so much easier! 

 I was quietly impressed with the day’s sequence of events – my bajaj driver Adam fetched me on time and had me at the ferry 20 minutes later, he assisted with the Swahili and sorted me a return ticket at $35US each way (which I thought was quite steep considering it takes quadruple the time of a flight and a only costs 5USD less.)  The reason I learned was that a taxi to the airport costs an additional $US30 so the Ferry’s can up their price a bit- having said that – the ferry was full up

The Ferry is way more organised than you would imagine – padded seats in the passenger class, TV’s, en-route entertainment and snacks and drinks being served.  Upstairs has a 1st class lounge for an extra 10USd which also gives you the opportunity to sit outside. I sat passenger class which really wasn’t bad at all – even included a complimentary ‘sick bag’ and although it was very rough out at sea I luckily didn’t have to use it.

We arrived in Zanzibar exactly 2 hours later and had to get our passports stamped again even though we didn’t enter a new country.  I decided that because I was early I’d save some cash and instead of taking a taxi would take a local minibus through to the east of the island where I had prelim booked at Mbunyuni Beach lodge for the night.  The 40km trip took 2 hours but the long ride was worth it- I sat in front next to Kingole, the driver.  After buying him a coke he entertained me in his best English- giving where to go and what to do on the island, he stopped along the road to buy me a Zanzibar apple, which he peeled ever so delicately with his fake Swiss army knife while negotiating some of the worst roads at 110km/h.  Zanzibar apples are a treat – a mix between a litchi and an apple- if you can imagine that!

He told me how that the islanders are told to look after tourists, and how there had been adverts in the newspaper telling islanders to keep the place clean so that more jobs could be created- one of the first bit of forward thinking I’d seen on the trip so far.  I suppose, whilst there are locals to take ferry’s and taxis etc – the majority of the business comes from tourists like myself – the immigration staff, ferry driver, barmen and tour-guides all relied on tourists.  I also thought how a simple business decision in the 1time corporate office in Sandton to start a new route to Zanzibar twice a week to bring tourists over had also brought with it a pile of other benefits-jobs for the people of Zanzibar, an identity and even hope.  I guess the same rings true for the other side of the equation- the cancelation of contracts. 

Mbunyuni Lodge is pretty run dow but the room interiors, location and food is out this world.  I arrived at low tide and headed straight to the sea with my mask and snorkel.  I found out the hard way that the ‘black things’ weren’t rocks but in fact sea urchins and saw a ton of fish as the tide started to come in.  After a good 45 minutes I headed back to eat my fruit salad I had ordered.  I then needed to call Standard Bank as I was having trouble with my credit card and started to look for my phone. 

It had disappeared – was not in my room where I was certain I had left it- was this the first incident of theft I was going to experience on my trip?   I headed to the restaurant to see if I had left it there and on arrival was greeted with a big "You leave your phone on the minibus?  They have found it on the floor and will bring it back this evening for you" One of the staff went to wait at the main road and brought it back just before dinner all smiles and no strings attached – enough said!  I was really impressed and can just hear you all saying ‘had this been in SA...” 

Tuesday was I guess your ‘average Zanzibar day’ Morning run on the beach, Lunchtime to Jozani Forest to see the indigenous monkeys which you only find on Zanzibar – it’s not really my cup of tea but went nonetheless and then the afternoon once it has cooled down- back to the beach to catch the last bit of sunlight, swim and chase crabs into the sea... all pretty good fun I promise. Tomorrow I’m off to beach paradise of the north coast- Kendwa beach! Till then.. cheers.
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