Published: August 21st 2007July 18th 2007
Sooooo… we’ve just been to Zaaaaanzibaaaaaaaaaar… what a great name for a place. What a great place it is, too…
Dad, Liam, Brigid and I got up early on Thursday morning to get to Mombasa airport in time for our flight. Unfortunately Precision Airways did not live up to its name that day and we waited in the airport for 5 hours before our plane finally departed. But the first glimpses of the island from the air were enough to make us forget the boredom of the day - the ocean in all colours of blue and green, white beaches and the buildings of Stone Town all looked very inviting. Got our visas in pretty much record time and found the driver from the place we were staying without any trouble, but then had another airport wait as the driver was also picking up some people who were due to arrive about 90 minutes later. Thankfully, we all had books to read! Finally, we made our way from the airport, across Zanzibar to the beaches on the East Coast (marveling at how nice the roads were along the way… I may have developed a fascination with smooth roads…), arriving just before
sunset at our lodge, Hakuna Majiwe (means ‘there are no stones’, although ‘tis not grammatically correct as our Swahili teacher was at pains to point out).
We spent two lovely days on the best beach in the world* - beautiful white sands pretty much completely devoid of stones but not of brightly-coloured starfish, and brilliant turquoise water that was lovely and warm. There was not much to do but go for long walks on the beach, swim, lounge on the swing bed outside our room (I want one when I grow up and have a house!!), read, eat and drink (at dad’s insistence, we tried every Tanzanian beer on the menu - not that we were complaining!). A fantastic relaxing couple of days, but by the end of it I was getting antsy to go and do something, so was quite excited to get to Stone Town.
I’d heard from a few people that there was only enough to do in Stone Town for one night, but we felt that the two we spent there were almost not enough. Stone Town is a fascinating mix of Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It was not quite high season, so didn’t
feel overrun by tourists, and it was lovely to wander through the winding, narrow streets for hours. Good (and very cheap) meals were easy to come by - we all took advantage of the fresh juices and delicious seafood, with dad especially excited about being able to get lobster for the equivalent of $10AUD! On our last night, we had drinks at a bar overlooking the water and watched the sun set as the dhows came in for the day and a swahili band played.
Zanzibar is in essence a bigger and less traditional version of Lamu, and certainly doesn’t appear to have lost any of its charm in shedding some of the more traditional ways. There were lots of things we didn’t get time to do, and I would happily go back given the chance.
As a ‘welcome back to Kenya’ present, Brigid and I had the lovely task of going to the immigration department to renew our visas and register as aliens. This was a very frustrating experience, stymied by the office closing for two hours in the middle of the day and us forgetting to bring photos (and having to make a mad dash out to get
them). Even without these, it’s the most amazingly inefficient process - you are sent from one teller to another and then back again while each person completes a fraction of the overall process (part of which involves someone rewriting the forms we’d just completed!). By the end of the day, we were exhausted and more than a bit grumpy, which was not helped by the fact that I had a ragingly sore throat. Have had a day and a half off work with a virus now. Had to go and get thick and thin films to test for malaria seeing as I was febrile. Thankfully negative. Feeling much better now - looking forward to Rod’s arrival on Friday morning and our trip to the South Coast for the weekend. More soon, love K x
*The nicest I’ve ever been to at least…
There are more photos below