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Published: February 12th 2018
On the first of February, we packed up and left Diani beach, taking a short cab ride down the coast. Thirteen km. south and the topography had changed dramatically. The modern paved road had degenerated into a pot holed trail of dirt and dust. Every few minutes we would pass a gated entry to some large resort, but the hustle and bustle of Diani beach had disappeared into a quiet remoteness. We pulled into our resort, the Kinondo Poa, and were greeted by a manager in pressed black pants and a formal, buttoned white shirt. The resort consisted of seven structures - a bar/restaurant sitting beside the pool, a cookhouse, a large mansion like building where the owner lived and the manager had his office, and four guest houses. Each guest house was split - like a town house - resulting in eight separate units. The manager took us to the farthest guest house away from the main house and we watched as our bags were hastily brought in by the help, also all dressed in formal black and whites. We were the only guests.
The Kinondo Poa is a place for writing, reading and meditation. The beach
Beautiful flowers all on our bed
a different arrangement each day
is no more than a minute or two walk away, however, the ocean floor is somewhat rocky and craggy in this region - not conducive to swimming. We visited the beach twice for walks over our five day stay. There was nothing else within walking distance. No stores or restaurants. Breakfast and dinner were included so all we had to concern ourselves with was lunch. We decided to eat on our porch instead of walking down to the bar area and so everyday, they would walk our meals up to us from the cookhouse. Our breakfast consisted of eggs, sausage, toast, fruit, juice and coffee. In mid afternoon, they would display the dinner menu which usually gave us four or five choices, all different on each day. With the heat, Monica and I swam in the pool three or four times each day. The water was pretty well the same temperature as the air - around 30-34 C. - so it was easy to walk into if not that refreshing. Part way through our stay here, I mentioned to Monica that this place would probably disappear from our memory quickly - it was like a dreamland mirage. We did little
besides read, eat and bask in the sun. Outside of the help, we saw next to no one. On our next to last day, a trio of Germans arrived, however we both kept pretty much to ourselves. The owner, Caroline, visited us once to introduce herself. She is an African-American from Jones Beach, Georgia in the US. Her husband resides in the US and she works through her computer. Otherwise, we did nothing but relax and work on our tan. It was very hot but our room had AC. The internet was excellent so it was easy to follow the weather patterns we were missing back in Canada.(haha) Our one new friend was Tiger, or Tigger as we called him. He was a mid-sized short hair terrier that was very well trained. He lay at our feet during meals, never begging, and would never enter our flat. His main job was to keep the monkeys away however his focus was usually on the cookhouse. One simple whistle and he bolted away knowing a meal was a waiting.
On the morning of the sixth, we flew to Zanzibar. Our flight was at 10:40 so we had to leave
Kinondo Poa at six in the morning. Breakfast was served between seven and nine, however they never hesitated in serving us at 5:30 in the morning. In my head, I had divided this movement into six segments. The first was simply the packing up and getting up on time. The resort themselves arranged the driver and cab for us - the airport in Mombasa was more than 90 minutes away plus we had to cross a river by ferry as well. Two left at the same kind - ours filled with vehicles and the other jam packed with people. They squeezed as many aboard as possible without any thought to comfort and safety. We arrived at the airport by eight and that was segment number two. The third part consisted of getting our ticket, getting rid of our luggage, getting an exit stamp from the Kenyan officials and going through security. All went well, although the female guard working security asked if I would stay in Kenya and go home with her. I think it was a joke but I am not completely sure. Number four was the flight itself and all went well. It was only a half hour
flight with a tiny East African airline called 540. The fifth segment was going through the entrance check into Tanzania. We had a Tanzanian visa good for one free re-entry - this would be our second time entering Tanzania, as this is where our African adventure started. However, I knew they would ask for another $50 visa payment. The customs official argued with Monica for about two minutes before giving up. Everything had gone well as we entered the sixth and final segment of our trip. We found our taxi driver that we had booked in advance and he drove us to our new hideout, the Sipano Resort. However, upon arrival the manager told us that they did not have a room for us. He claimed that a wind storm had damaged some of the rooms including ours. He told us that he had arranged a room for us further down the beach. Without much choice we agreed, spending our first night in Zanzibar in a place slightly more remote and of less quality. The manager, George, told us he would have a room ready for us the next day and he would pick us up after breakfast.
The next day arrived, we had breakfast, and no sign or word from George. Around noon, we finally got a hold of him and he informed us that we would have to stay where we were for another night. We decided to walk down the beach and confront him. He tried to duck us but finally we found him. George whined that the people staying in our room were scheduled to check out, but decided to stay another night. We informed him that his problems were not our problems. When he came to the conclusion that we were not leaving, suddenly he had a room for us, all clean and empty. Our guess is that he was trying to re-rent the our room at a higher rate - Monica had booked these rooms four months earlier and made sure she was getting a good deal. We got our driver to take us back and pick up our luggage - George wanted us to pay the $6 fee for the cab but we refused - and in a hurried fashion we packed up and returned before George could change his mind. In the rush, I left without my toilet kit,
meaning I had to trek back and get that as well.
We stayed here for three nights. This is the east coast of Zanzibar, the side that opens to the Indian Ocean. There is a strong breeze, almost a gusty wind that blows in constantly at this time of the year. Early on our first night, a power line blew resulting in 24 hours or so without hydro. Our only source of air flow was from our ceiling fan, so the night air was nothing short of sweltering. We talked to a Danish family of four the next morning who actually slept on the roof beside the bar. Our time here was almost like a sitcom - Fawlty Towers or the like. Most of the guests were either Italian or Russian and neither displayed much patience or ability to adapt. George kept making up tales concerning the power - they were working on the lines right now or it would be fixed in a matter of minutes - anything to appease people while he ran away. He simply was not a man that could handle confrontation.
The high light of this area, with the
spacious beaches, shallow water, and strong winds - is kite surfing. We sat on the beach each evening watching ten or twelve surfers fly and jump across the water. Many had their own gear and were quite skilled while others were taking lessons. Many of the rookies would try for an hour or so but would never be able to get up on their board. It obviously takes an awful lot of upper body strength. Our high light was the spice tour we did. We went to the Umoja spice farm where they took us on a complete tour. This consisted of moving from plant to plant, tasting and smelling each while trying to guess its name. There was a fruit tasting at the end, and one of the farm boys shimmied up a coconut tree in mere seconds while singing and performing feats of strength. Finally, we were escorted to a market where one could purchase many of the spices in dried form. The pics give the best account of each spice - the key for me was how many of these spices have medicinal qualities. This included the actual tree that bleeds iodine when the bark is cut.
Annatto used for Lipstick
The fruit produces a red/orange dye from the achiote tree, also used in a similar way to turmeric, to color food.
Other examples include bush mint, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, turmeric, ginger, pepper, nutmeg, lemongrass, curry and allspice. There were countless others as well.
One more point to add concerns our health. Both Monica and I started getting woozy heads first in Kenya and it continued here in Zanzibar. Monica calls it feeling 'light headed' while I refer to it as a heavy head. It almost feels like the affects of a hangover. Getting up out of bed or simply turning too quickly would stimulate a brief spell of dizziness. We both wondered if we were having a reaction to the bug spray that is used in large amounts by the cleaning crews. Or maybe just a reaction to the unrelenting heat. Monica and I felt it ironic (Interesting??) that we both felt the same symptoms, or close, at the same time. Most of it is gone now and we are feeling good, swimming in the ocean and enjoying our wine on the beach. On the tenth day of February, we left for the north part of Zanzibar. Only two weeks left on this adventure.
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