Friday, August 5

Zanzibar – Oops

Brett: Zanzibar is brilliant and we really enjoyed it, but we kept getting things wrong (or were we trying to make it more of a challenge for ourselves). We packed up the car and left it at Kipepeo Camp Site and caught a taxi to the Kigamboni ferry. On the way our taxi driver told us the times we had for the ferry were completely wrong and we would definitely miss the early ferry. We decided to rush anyway and literally ran onto the Kigamboni ferry and along the Kivukoni Front. We ignored the very pushy touts and went straight to what we thought were the correct offices to buy a ticket, but still ended up buying from one of the tourist con offices for a $5 each mark-up. We felt pretty silly when we saw the official ticket windows 50m further – first mistake but not the end of the world. The ferry was running late, so we managed to run to it and board just as they were packing up the gang way to leave, and we started to think our luck had changed. As the ferry was leaving the port, we looked at each other and asked simultaneously if the other had packed the passports – NO – oops. For the rest of the 2 hour ferry journey, we were dreading getting to Zanzibar port and being turned back. At Immigration, we acted dumb and expressed our surprise that we needed our passports to visit Zanzibar at all – “isn’t it part of Tanzania?”. After many apologies and lots of convincing, they produced a form with the wording “I… declare that I left my passport with valid visa in Dar… and I apologise for that. Signed …”. I have a feeling they don’t bother giving the form if they don’t like your face. Anyway, it was a relief to get through. The Immigration official then asked if we had any money to thank him for this great favour… “No, we left that in Dar too”. :-)

Stone Town is great and exploring is a lot of fun. We realised when we arrived that it was Ramadan (oops), but didn’t think too much about it as the shops were still open around lunch time. During the hottest hours of the day we hid out in the House of Wonders museum, which is in cool old building with very interesting displays about Zanzibar history, environment, the impact of tourism, Swahili culture, etc. We were starving and dehydrated when we left the museum at about 4pm. By this point all the shops were shut, and we only just managed to stumble back to the hotel for some juice, with Mary nearly fainting in the street (oops again). After sunset, we headed out for street food. There were a couple of great little stands in the street serving beef kebabs, eggy type balls and chapattis. There are also many food stalls set up around Forodhani Gardens for the tourists which have a some nice food but very little variety.


Mary: I had started to feel achy on the ferry but assumed I must have slept badly. By sunset I was feeling really feverish and insisted on wearing my jacket out to dinner despite the temperature still being in the high twenties. I ended up getting bad food poisoning (I suspect from the water we filled up with in Masasi, although we had used water purification tablets), had a terrible night and spent the next day sleeping and exploring the bathroom of “The Haven” guest house ($30 pn - there isn’t really any accommodation cheaper than $30-$40 per double per night in Zanzibar, which seems ok if you are on a short trip but a real budget buster for us). We only had our tiny survival first aid kit with us, so Brett went to the chemist and shops as well as a general explore. I was feeling a little better in the evening, so we went for a short walk around town. Brett went back to his usual food stall at the Forodhani Gardens, but this time the guy tried the let-me-go-and-look-for-change-and-then-disappear-until-you-give-up trick but we didn’t give up, and Brett made a scene (they had had change all along). Brett 1 – scammers nuffink!

On the third morning, I was feeling ok enough to explore so we hired a motorbike (Honda XR 250, similar to Brett’s old bike) to get to the beaches. Just as we headed out, the heavens opened (the first time since we started our trip) and completely drenched us – the rain was fairly warm, but there there was nowhere to hide from it and it was so hard it stung. The ride ended up taking 2 hours to get to Nungwi with the wet roads and frequent visits to the bushes. We liked Nungwi immediately – white sands, turquoise water, nice restaurants and a really sociable vibe. We had pizza and watched some Masai guys playing football on the beach. We headed back in the evening and went out for some comfort food – the spaghetti bolognaise and shaken chocolate milk at Lou Lou’s restaurant was amazing. I could actually taste the absence of bacteria in the food and after two days of feeling ill at the thought of food it was great to actually feel hungry. That place saved me from serious malnutrition!


Brett: On the fourth morning, we took the bike to Paje which has a different feel – it also has quite a few resorts on the coast and the focus seems to be on water sports. We really enjoyed the beaches in Zanzibar, there are quite a lot of resorts in some towns, but they don’t feel over developed and there are plenty of other undeveloped beaches to go to – the whole island has a lot to offer and we are already planning a return visit in the future.

With Mary still not feeling great, we decided to catch the ferry back to Dar that evening – this time it was my turn to feel a little sea sick (I guess I didn’t get all my grandfathers genes), but Mary felt ok, distracted by a silent version of Kirate Kid 3 on the TV (the Kilimanjaro ferry is definitely the best one to go for). We caught the ferry back across the bay and caught a Tuk-Tuk back to the Camp Site – they are a lot of fun and about as bouncy as the Hilux.

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