Zanzibar leg

Stone Town shoreline sunset view; a dhow off Zanzibar coastline SCENES OF ZANZIBAR

Marcelle managed to acquire the necessary tickets and we were on the ferry by 11h15. The journey would take all of 3 hours and I began to feel seasick, before alleviating the situation by taking two valoids. Our contact for excursions met us. We walked from the harbour to the Karibu (Swahili for "Welcome") Inn in Zanzibar Town after almost taking a wrong turn following Aviette, where we booked in. Ron, the most senior of the touring party and I forked out a bit extra and shared a double room. The WhichWay subsidy was $8, so we had to pay the difference. The accommodation proved more than agreeable! I showered and later changed $100 at a bureau just up the road. In the evening Marcelle introduced us to the town and the cuisine of the side-walk vendors, including japarte, kebabs, samooses and the like. Many hours may be spent wandering through the fascinating network of narrow streets and alleyways, little nooks and crannies, truly a photographer's paradise. We made our way past the market area and sampled the exquisitely delicious sugar cane juice and lemon.

Ron and I were the first at breakfast the following morning after taking turns showering, conveniently situated across the hallway. We felt spoilt after what we had become accustomed to on tour. Each bed was provided with a mosquito net which covered it entirely. Mr Mitu's spice tour was due to commence at 9h00 near the local cinema in town. A small Muslim man, he bore a sympathetic appearance and one could not help but like him instantly. We were sharing the tour with other parties and waited for late comers. Soon we alighted three separate mini busses and headed off to the ruins of Maharube, who lived on the island with his 100 wives. The tour took us on a journey of discovery through the exotic fruit and spice plantations on the island, which opened our minds to items with which we were familiar in all but the original harvested form, for instance, nutmeg. Zanzibar is a separate state within Tanzania, consisting of Zanzibar and Pemba islands. as well as several other smaller islets. Most people arrive at Zanzibar Town, the old quarter of which, usually called the Stone Town, is a fascinating maze of narrow streets and alleyways which lead the visitor past numerous old houses and mosques, ornate palaces, and shops and bazaars. Much of the old Stone Town dates back to the 19th century slave boom. A striking feature of many houses is the brass-studded doors and elaborately carved frames. Door size and design intricacy signifies the owner's wealth and status. There are several historical buildings in the stone town. The People's Palace, built in the 1890's, overlooks the sea and was the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar from 1911 until the 1964 revolution.

The list was endless: star fruit, pomelo, papaya, bread fruit, jack fruit (similar to bread fruit but coarser), custard apple, coconut, queen fruit. pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon etc.. First we tasted or smelt whatever was under scrutiny, a guessing game ensued before we were finally spared further embarrassment brought on by sheer ignorance. This made us realise how accustomed we had become to our consumer society. Mr Mitu constantly maintained the element of surprise. The spice tour culminated in our being served a delicious spice curry lunch at an open, gazebo-style rectangular thatched-roofed construction. Fruits were also served. It was simply out of this world! We arrived back at about 15h00. Mr Mitu thrust a coffee in my hand before we were taken to the Karibu. While I wandered off, anxious to take some photos of the stone town, Claus organised a vehicle for the following day, while making enquiries regarding diving excursions.
Nutmeg & peppercorn, spice tour wonders SCENES OF ZANZIBAR
The day ended taking in the sunset from the balcony of Africa House while enjoying a sundowner.  A quick shower before heading off to the Fisherman for dinner.

The next day, after a shower and a quick breakfast, we proceeded on downstairs to await the arrival of our vehicle. Confusion reigned when the courier failed to show up at the prescribed time. As Claus was in the process of making an alternative arrangement, he finally pitched. This news distressed him greatly, arguing that he had had in fact phoned in to say that he would be delayed. The matter settled, Claus, Marco, Troy and I finally headed off east on a tarred leading out of the stone town through lush forests and plantations. Small stone and mud houses with thatched roofs were seen at odd intervals. We alighted after reaching a school on the coast, oblivious of a teacher who was making an immediate bee-line in our direction, to order to inform us that under no circumstances were we to photograph the school or the children. This seemed to be the norm wherever we went.
Mr Mitu, spice tour operator

The road deteriorated as we drove on north, constantly swopping seats, the rear ones proving far more uncomfortable and therefore less popular. All this was aggravated by Marco's childish behaviour, in deliberately aiming for the bumps and pot-holes. Claus, in particular, was fast becoming extremely pissed off. At a filling station, we encountered a one Daniel Tembo selling batiks for 2000 shilling each. I bought three. We arrived at Nungwi at 15h00 in the afternoon. I took some photos and swam a bit on this exotic beach with its crystal-clear water, before going out on the dhow which Marcelle had booked (some in our group had decided to spend the entire time on Zanzibar at Nungwi). We headed to and fro across the waters, crouching low each time to allow the sails to be altered. It was a fun, exhilarating experience in bending over backwards over the edge of the boat, allowing one's head to catch the swell. We got back just before sunset. The bungalows were comfortably but simply fitted out. Each bed was equipped with a mosquito net. The thatched-roofed wooden structures with verandahs gave the entire setting a Robinson Crusoe type feel. After showering, we enjoyed a delicious fish dinner courtesy of the local establishment.

After a quick and early breakfast, we headed back to the stone town, owing to our having booked for a diving excursion. A flat tyre was hastily repaired. We made the trip back in record time, arriving at 8h40. Claus and Marco were experienced divers, Claus having dived at some of the major spots around the globe while he had been on his travels for the best part of about 18 months! Check out his website. After completing the necessary forms for indemnification and coughing up the $40, Troy and I were given a quick, introductory theoretical course. Our gear was selected according to size. We made our way towards an offshore sandbank, where Troy and I received basic training in the art of snorkeling. Once reasonably accustomed to the correct breathing technique, the scuba gear was donned. We learnt how to clear the goggles of water while still maintaining our breathing. We proceeded into slightly deeper waters to examine the some coral. Whilst remaining calm, breathing became less of a problem, although I was battling with my bouyancy, which required several adjustments to my weights. After about an hour, we surfaced, had lunch and then moved off in the boat to a position where a shipwreck was located, so that Claus and Marco could have a taste of the real action, in deeper waters. We returned in the late afternoon, exhausted but well satisfied. Upon our return, we ventured off for a stone town photo session. Met up with Marcelle and some off the crew and ordered a pair of Zanzibar shorts and shirt I had bought. The girls ordered kikoi, otherwise known a serongs or khangas. I had spent a bit on a number of souvenir gifts. Zanzibar certainly presented one with a varietyof possibilities. Marcelle and I returned to Africa House, as she was also keen to order batiks from Daniel. Beers were downed at the bar, followed by take-aways bought from the side-walk vendors. Marcelle had assured us that the food was perfectly safe and edible. We enjoyed coffee at the bar next door to the Karibu Inn. We were indeed having the time of our lives!


Zanzibar Island village; Karibu Inn

Up at 6h45 to shower and enjoy a simple continental breakfast, we packed and headed back to the port to check in at customs, while I picked up my shorts en route. We all boarded a hydrofoil, while Elsa, conspicuous by her absence for the past three days, was the last to arrive, complete with a rastafarian in tow, whom she had supposedly "picked up" at some point. Sea-sickness was less on the return journey, after having taken some tablets. I dished out valoids to others who were suffering and who had not taken the necessary precautions. The journey lasted only 1h40. Werner was at the harbour to meet us. Even on this occasion as on previous Whichway trips, he had not accompanied the group to the island.

Zanzibar Island village; Stone Town architecture

We were allowed to spend 2 hours in Dar-es-Salaam, while he and Marcelle stocked up with provisions. At Silversands, we unpacked, pitched tents, caught up with much-needed washing and showered, before heading off to the restaurant there for a sumptuous seafood dinner, consisting of fish, prawns and chips. While Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania's largest town and most important port, was somewhat forgettable, Silversands was, by contrast, a magnificent setting.

In the course of all this, Chris had left the tour to make his way back to Oz! Personally, he'd probably be best remembered for suggesting a reverse entry to the last rapid of the day on the Zambezi, for his powerful curries and his backward bungee jump (see Zimbabwe page).

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