Published: July 30th 2012July 29th 2012
This weekend I was off to Zanzibar to stay in Stone Town for 2 days with my friend, Martha and her daughter, Mary. This would be my third trip.. the first was in August last year and then again in November when I met Charles and Camilla.
Martha and I have known eachother for 21 years. We met when she was a P.R. person in the book publishing business and I was working for Eye On Toronto at CFTO-TV. We became friends very quickly. At the time, Mary was 5 or 6 years old and there was a time or two that I actually babysat her.
Needless to say, Mary has grown up into a beautiful young woman and Mary and I haven’t aged a bit!
Mary has been volunteering as a nurse in Dar for the past two months, so Martha thought it would be a good idea to visit Tanzania while there were two people living here that she knew. She arrived on Thursday, spent 24 hours in Dar (really, that is enough time!) and then they flew to Stone Town on Friday morning. I took the ferry over later in the day after work.
With the most recent ferry accident, people were quite nervous for me when they heard that was how I was going. I am happy to report that the trip over went without any incident. They did carry a coffin on the boat once everyone was aboard. By the looks of it, it was a Muslim man because his wife and daughter followed on and they seemed quite distraught. I assume they were taking the body back to Zanzibar for burial before sundown.
Other than that, the trip was uneventful. I met with Martha and Mary and we had a quite night at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel. We stayed at The Seyyida Hotel & Spa right in Stone Town. Great place and location.
Saturday, Mary and I headed into Stone Town to wander a bit. Martha stayed back as she broke her baby toe in Istanbul, Turkey on her way to Dar. She decided walking wasn’t the best option for her. In the afternoon, we decided to hire a boat to go to Prison Island, just 20 minutes from Stone Town.
We jumped in the boat for a private tour of the island. Prison Island was
where they would put the people that were “really bad” (as our guide, Ibrahim told us). We don’t know what “really bad” was but for the sake of this story, let’s say they were murderers and worse. The prison is now closed, but they have converted what is left of the prison into a hotel and a sanctuary for land turtles… and there were a lot of turtles!
You pay 7.000 Tsh ($4 CAD) admission and then you are free to wander and get as up-close to the turtles as you want. People were petting them, talking to them, and feeding them. I was standing back and, with help from a zoom lens, I got some very good pictures. I am not a turtle-kind-of-guy and I have no problem admitting it. They are okay, but they are ugly, big, they have an "aroma" that Martha and I had not smelled elsewhere.
We spent about an hour with the turtles and walked around the rest of the resort. We ran into a male peacock who was doing all he could to get the attention of the females. There were close to 15 females that we saw and none of
them were paying him attention. He was putting his feathers on display, which was great for us, but he was seeing no action.
From there, we wandered back to the boat and headed back to Stone Town with Ibrahim and his boat. The whole excursion took about 2 and half hours. It was kind of cool… something that I hadn’t done yet.
I did not take any pictures of Stone Town this time because I have a ton of them from my previous trips. The place really hasn’t changed at all.
Saturday night, we ate at Mercury’s… It is named after Freddie Mercury (he was born on Zanzibar)… Funny, he was gayer than gay and they celebrate him there… must be for the tourist dollars! He lived in Stone Town until he was 2 or so and then his family moved to India, so they really are making it all out for what they can. The house he lived in is part of the walking tour and is now a souvenir shop.
Sunday, we woke and had breakfast, Martha and Mary headed to the north shore of the island for 2 days in the sun. They
will fly back to Dar and we will hang out for 3 days before they head off to the Serengeti and I head to Italy to spent 18 days with my sister, Laurie.
When I got to the ferry terminal for my 12:30PM reservation on Sunday, there were approximately 15-20 military guys and Red Cross workers. They were putting on rubber gloves and masks. They headed down the pier to do something. As it turns out, some dead bodies washed up and they had to claim them. I can’t help but think that they may have been from the ferry mishap that happened two weeks ago. So sad.
I am not trying to depress you, but my trip started with death and ended with death... but there was a lot of good stuff in between!
There are more photos below