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Published: February 20th 2007
And yet another early start, up at 4am. Some holiday this is turning into. And it begs the question why didn't we go to Zanzibar last night. The ferry to Zanzibar is a funny thing - although Zanzibar is part of Tanzania they like to retain some autonomy and even insist on stamping visitors' passports. Due to group slowness we had to stand for the 2 1/2 hour crossing, unsuccessfully trying to figure out a good way of sleeping whilst standing up. Once there we left the rest of our group as we'd decided to treat ourselves to a nice hotel room and found just what we were looking for (4 poster bed, mosquito net, air-con, TV, privacy) at Baghani House Hotel. We rushed a quick shower and bite to eat to be ready for our 'spice tour' at 11.30. Unfortunately our guide had his watch set to 'Africa time' and turned up over 30 minutes late. The Spice Tour is Zanzibar's most popular activity besides sitting on the beach and shows what all the spices we are used to seeing in glass jars looks like when they're growing. Before all that though we took a look at Stone Town's
main attractions. The best of these was the old slave market, or at least the dungeon where slaves were kept for 3 days before market day. Noone would be surprised to hear that they were cramped and unpleasant to say the least - and that was with just 18 of us rather than the usual 75 slaves. Next up was lunch at the guide's house, which was delicious and obviously made use of plenty of the local spices. Then after this we went out to the spice farms and saw everything from lemon grass and vanilla to cloves, cinammon, cardamon and coffee. We even saw a pineapple growing on top of a plant, which Ed found surprising: it's funny how you can be surprised at how something grows even with no idea what you'd expect to see. It's just not something you spend much time thinking about usually. Then we drank various spiced teas and ate an incredible variety (and quality) of fruits, including the nicest pineapple since the pineapple was invented. Finally things were rounded off with a guy climbing a 30m coconut tree to cut some coconuts free. Rather him than us, climbing the trunk with a short,
thick piece of rope tied around his feet which he used to grip the trunk.
One very funny, if a little annoying, thing about this tour was the guide himself. He had the weirdest voice and spoke with a proper 'sarf' London accent. He even used cockney rhyming slang. And his first language is Swahili. It turned out that some person attached to the British Commission of Zanzibar also worked as an English teacher, and he was the source of the broad accent. It was great walking around Zanzibar after this and catching snippits of cockney and knowing where it came from (a boat named 'Lovely Jubberly' for example).
For a sunset drink we went to Africa House which has the most incredible sea views. And funnily enough Gemma had hatched a plan to buy it and renovate the shell of the building and bar when she was here before. Sombody else obviously had the same idea. To round things off, and to satisfy a weeks long craving, 10 of us went for a curry.
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