Blogs from Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa

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Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi April 14th 2015

Where do ants come from? I don’t mean in evolutionary terms. I mean when you put down a piece of bread, or a slice of fruit, or even drop a grain of sugar, where do the hundreds of ants appear from in a matter of seconds? One second there is a crumb on the counter; in the blink of eye the crumb has innumerable tiny shiny bodies swarming and wriggling around it. Is there some sort of signal sent off that suddenly calls into existence an extra hundred ants per crumb, or do they all lurk in invisible corners just waiting their whole lives for the sound of cling film being lifted from the plate, or the lid of the sugar separating from the pot? Everyone knows that if you leave food around, ants will appear ... read more

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi April 13th 2015

Written on the chalkboards outside the restaurants in the village are phrases such as ‘Lovely jubbly’ and ‘Oki doki’, and most declare the presence of ‘PIZZA’ and ‘PASTA’ bigger and louder than traditional Swahili dishes. Perhaps I am being cynical, but the message this sends to me is a slightly desperate attempt at attracting tourists who want to come to Africa but stay as European or American as possible. I’m not one of those pretentious people who claims to know everything about Tanzanian culture from the moment I step off the plane, looking down on tourists as inferior, but there is something wrong about eating a plate of spaghetti bolognaise and watching ‘The Cube’ whilst behind you Masai stroll along the beach. One particularly fancy hotel in the area (which shall remain anonymous) tried and failed ... read more

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 31st 2015

Although it rained on and off for a week beforehand, the locals maintained steadily that rainy season absolutely does not start until the 21st of March. I waited amusedly for the auspicious date to roll around, only to be called out on my cynicism. We were woken in the early hours of the 21st of March by what I can only describe as a practically solid downpour of water, thundering on the roof and the ground, battering the trees and darkening the sky. Often, you can hear the wall of rain coming before you see or feel it. There are some beautiful cloud formations appearing in this changeable sky; dark grey swipes loom beyond puffy white marshmallows, which hover above pinky-purple splodges on the horizon. The effect of the changing light and winds on the sea ... read more
Clouds over Nungwi Village
Sapphire and Amethyst
Sunshine and Showers

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 28th 2015

During my first couple of weeks here, one of the most common questions I was asked was ‘Where are you from?’ On replying ‘England’ (or ‘the UK’ or ‘Britain’ or ‘Great Britain’ - why does such a small place have so many names?) I was promptly hailed with suggestions of exactly whereabouts in England I lived. Unfortunately, I am not from Manchester, Liverpool or Chelsea, which for obvious reasons were the most frequently guessed places. Many of the locals here haven’t heard of even Leeds or Newcastle, so trying to explain where York is results in a very vague geographical explanation, usually going something like: ‘It’s in the North ... no, not Scotland ... not that close to Scotland really ... but not close to London either ... or on the coast ... sort of opposite ... read more
Spice tour shannanigans

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 27th 2015

I currently have three major problems with learning Kiswahili. The first is that there are approximately ten phrases for each thing you want to say, all meaning more or less the same thing. Greetings and commonplaces are especially guilty of this - I have lost count, for example, of how many different ways of saying ‘No problem’ (how ironic), I have come across so far. The most famous of these is, of course, ‘hakuna matata’. The second problem is that many words and phrases have very similar phonetic structures, or in other words, everything sounds the same to my untrained ears. Take, for example, the phrase ‘I ate food’. Simple enough, right? This translates to ‘Nilikula chakula’. How about ‘I am eating chicken’? ‘Ninakula kuku’. ‘I was sleeping’? ‘Nilikulala’. ‘I ate chicken and then I slept’ ... read more

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 22nd 2015

The flowers that grow around here are so beautiful that the hotel staff pick them daily to decorate the bathrooms, bedrooms and restaurant. No other decoration is needed. A row of hot pink bougainvilleas grow outside our house, perfectly framing the view to the sea. Frangipanis drop from the trees, and we collect them as we walk home to put decoratively around the house. They die in a day or so, but we appreciate their beauty (and delicious perfume) for a few hours at least. The frangipani flowers are either pink or waxy white, with five slim petals whorling out from egg-yolk yellow centres. The shampoos and perfumes that they are made into smell almost as good as the flowers - it is worth plunging your nose between the petals to drink in the intoxicating fragrance. ... read more
Snail
Frangipani and Shells

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 16th 2015

I remember learning to dive on Mafia, a smaller island of the archipelago, about 4 years ago. It was incredible, but I was completely new to diving at that point, so perhaps I got the impression that the whole ocean was filled with colourful corals, beautiful fish, and giant whale sharks. I have since dived elsewhere, and can now fully appreciate the Zanzibar reefs. A typical day’s diving can include seeing turtles, stingrays, lionfish, nudibranchs, innumerable coral fish, forests of different corals, and much more. Even snorkellers often see octopus, squid and dolphins as well as hundreds of multi-coloured and patterned reef fish. Some of the most impressive - Google them - include the juvenile emperor angelfish, moorish idols, oriental sweetlips, juvenile spotted sweetlips and regal angelfish. Moorish idols, two-bar anenome fish and palette surgeonfish represent ... read more
Copyright Carlos de Resende
Copyright Carlos de Resende

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 9th 2015

You really have to hand it to the monster corporations sometimes. I have been to places without internet, washing machines or even proper toilets, but never have I yet been more than a few miles away from a Snickers bar and a bottle of Coca-Cola. You could be forgiven for believing that Pringles were the staple food of Zanzibar from a glance around the shops and hotels here. In the supermarkets of Stonetown you can occasionally stumble across a packet of crisps which aren’t presented in the famous tube, but Nungwi Village and the many hotels in the area are stocked from floor to ceiling with Pringles. In my clearly sheltered experience of Pringle flavours, I can only recall coming across Sour Cream and Onion, Original, and perhaps the odd foray into Barbeque. Here, they make ... read more

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi March 4th 2015

My dad remains convinced that I am living on Azkaban. This makes me slightly sad for two reasons. Firstly, that my dad readily attributes criminal tendencies to me. Secondly, it reminds me that at the ripe old age of 23, I have yet to receive my Hogwarts letter and therefore should resign myself to the life of a muggle. It’s not all bad though. I’m a week into life on Zanzibar, and, though there isn’t a Dementor in sight, there is plenty of magic. White sands, blue skies, turquoise sea... cliched but true. Speaking of the sea, my 89-year old grandfather has, as usual, conducted his meticulous research into my destination, and is worried about pirates. (My mum hastens to add that he is worried about pirates in Zanzibar, not the small Worcestershire town in which ... read more
Classic Zanzibari Pimms
Mangis

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Nungwi February 3rd 2015

Like a true Brit, I shall limit my current comments to the weather. Africa is hot. No surprises there. However, it is coming up to rainy season, and is therefore very windy. This brings me to a dilemma: do I stay inside, wearing long floaty skirts and keeping my hairstyle intact but bake in my own skin, or do I find a shady outside corner and let my hair blow itself into a tangled frizzy knot (despite the presence of hundreds of desperate kirby grips)? I generally choose the latter, letting the cool wind brush over me, keeping my core body temperature at safe levels. I use approximately a pint of conditioner every evening, but it is worth it for keeping my internal organs from melting. I also choose the shade because until recently I was ... read more
Birthday walk along Nungwi beach
View from the 'office'




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