Published: March 2nd 2011March 2nd 2011
After relaxing and re-gaining of our energy, we made our way back to Stone Town for some serious shopping. We were on the hunt of all hunts for scarves and fabrics. We also, as usual, chilled in a lot of cafes, enjoying some nice coffees. As I said before Stone Town is one large maze. It is one of those places where you twist and turn and come around the corner and find some really cute teashop, coffee shop, or clothing store. Stone Town has a strong Muslim influence, so be sure to be reasonably covered when you are walking around shopping. Of course locals are used to the tourists, so your do not need to cover every ounce of skin, but just be respectful and don’t walk around in your bathing suit, even though the heat will make you feel like that is all you can put on.
On our way back from Ningwe, we stopped for a quick spice tour. It was actually a lot cooler than it sounds. It was really refreshing to see all of the things we see bottled up and processed in our grocery stores at home in their original form. For example, I
never knew that cinnamon was a tree. I knew that there was such a thing as cinnamon bark, but I never put two and two together; I guess I just never really thought about it. When we first got there, our guide handed us a scrunched up leaf and asked us what we thought it was. Emma guessed cardamom and I thought it smelled a little like cinnamon. Sure enough we were smelling cinnamon leaves. He then cut off a piece of bark and it was certainly, unmistakably cinnamon. We walked around and tried all different spices, fruits, and cocoa all of them strong, amazing, and delicious. We then finished the tour with a performance from the sidekick, who proceeded to climb the large palm tree, while singing us a song. He also made us hats, hair ties, and bowls out of banana leaves. All and all it was very little money, very well spent.
Emma and I stayed at the Annex of Abdallah in Stone Town, the same place Emma had stayed on her first visit to Zanzibar a few years ago. It is not a place of luxury, but it a nice spot for those traveling on
a budget. We met the owner, Cholo, who remembered Emma and was extremely kind and helpful to us. We spent the next couple of days chatting with locals trying to determine whether or not it was really going to be possible for us to make it down through Malawi, Mozambique, and back to South Africa in the next two weeks. We also looked around and checked in almost every shop in search of the cheapest fabrics and scarves.
One night while we were there, we wandered down near the coast to the Stone Town night market. While most like it is put on for the tourists in the city, you can find some pretty good food. I highly suggest heading down there for dinner. It takes place every night after the sun sets. I had a really lovely Mediterranean/Middle Eastern falafel-style dish, while Emma enjoyed the local Zanzibar pizza (stuffed pizza). We shared a pizza dessert with nutella and banana.
After a final shopping excursion the next day, we caught the afternoon ferry back to the mainland. Cholo was helpful at finding us a ride and accompanying us back to the docks. Overall Zanzibar was a special experience
in so many ways. There are the crazy, difficult moments that challenge you, and then there are the truly beautiful moments that you will never forget. Luckily I am pretty good at looking back and remembering the good parts of traveling, which is probably why I am so addicted to it. While we had the issue with the rat, it is now a great, comical story Emma and I recount to just about anyone we talk to. We also used it as leverage on the rest of our journey.
There are more photos below