A Lifetime's Worth of Taxis and the Long Journey Home

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September 22nd 2018
Published: September 23rd 2018
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.Stone Town.Stone Town.Stone Town

The ferry port at Zanzibar is something Glyn described as a well oiled machine. This is sarcasm, as sheer chaos with a lack of information and people blocking the entrance as they swarmed to get through immigration is not oily. But it is sweat-soaked as the heat was intense stuffed with packed bodies and luggage. It was a necessary evil to get us on our way home.

Earlier I put a cleanish tshirt and deodorant in my hand luggage so I don't stink too badly on the plane, but things aren't looking hopeful and pity the poor people sitting near Glyn and myself.

After packing, we had time for a last wander around Stone Town, buying essential souvenirs and tat before doing a self tour. We were stuck in there for ages getting lost, having gone beyond the tourist trail and finding graffiti demanding independence for Zanzibar from Tanzania. We must have covered every avenue and alleyway, some 3 or 4 times and it got to the point of despair as I began to wonder if we were really in a moving maze. According to my guidebook (packed in my main luggage but the maps wouldn't help as there
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are no named thoroughfares or landmarks) it's easy to get lost in Stone Town, but you don't stay lost for long. This is sheer nonsense.

Walking down one road for the 2nd or 3rd time, Salim waved to us - he was giving a Stone Town Tour to other people - and we didn't recognise him for an instant. Yesterday he was in Muslim attire with the long white gown (I don't know the proper name) and little yellow hat but today he was in shorts and tshirt, no hat. I'm curious as to why the different looks on consecutive days. He gave us directions that sort of helped and eventually we made it to the sea, feeling the breeze and sweet relief.

After a last meal by the sea, we collected our luggage and started the walk to the port, wondering how many times we would be offered a taxi. The answer is many, many times. There are so many taxis in Stone Town and I've no idea how they all make a living but every single one tried to tout for our business. Plus we had an offer of accommodation, a few ice creams and a boat tour. I was thankful when we reached the port, until we got stuck in the chaos with only one person working on the immigration desk. We were catching a ferry to Dar es Salaam to fly home and luckily had plenty of time.

After a luggage scan (the first of many before I get home) and a brief wait, we boarded the ferry which was mercifully air conditioned. It was crowded at first but once it got going, many moved out front on deck to get sunburnt. It was very windy, so they won't be feeling it until later. The staff had a huge pile of sick bags that quickly shrunk to but a few, as passengers wretched all around us and a few babies started crying.

After two hours, we arrived in Dar with an announcement telling us to beware of unlicensed taxis. As soon as we disembarked, a guy offered me a taxi and my natural reaction is to say no, but he approached Glyn who bartered him from $25 USD to $20 to the airport, despite not knowing how far it is away or how much it should be. The guy had an official looking ID badge and he was in the terminal, so we reckoned that's ok. He warned us that soon as we step outside, lots of people will offer us taxis and to hold on to your belongings as they are all thieves. As it happens, it was a tight crowd with lots of taxi offers (but I'm getting very used to that) and no one tried to steal from me.

The guy introduced us to his driver as it appears to be his job to get the passengers. The driver took us across the uninspiring capital city, with tatty tower blocks and big street markets. I guess the best areas are not between the port and airport. At most traffic lights, men walked amongst the cars selling items such as nuts, fruit, sticks, footballs and The Incredible Hulk masks.

Arriving at the airport, the driver had a plastic passcard to get him into the carpark and then told us it cost him $5 per person to park and so this was costing him $10. We just knew this to be nonsense and ensured we'd retrieved all of our luggage before paying him the agreed price. We had come
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rather early and sat outside waiting for check in and our flight home.

This has been one of the best holidays of my life and I struggle to pick a favourite day - was it the chimp trekking, camping next to a pride of lions or having my hair chewed by a cheetah? I preferred the mainland to Zanzibar, because it is less touristy and so there's less hassle. Also, the strict customs the locals have about dress codes for women in Zanzibar makes it uncomfortable, some did wear shorts and sleeveless tops and I couldn't see any hassle but it still felt uneasy. Not being able to hold my husband's hand whilst walking or being able to give him a hug when I wanted was a bit crap. And I hope it's a long time before I heard the words "hello taxi" and "hakuna matata" again. Despite this, it has been good and the Cheetah's Rock experience absolutely wonderful, but that would be the only reason for returning.

Mainland Tanzania has been awesome and seeing so many beautiful wild animals is priceless, I would come again. But then there are other countries with amazing wild animals that
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need seeing, so I may not have time to visit again!

Additional photos below
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Dhow on ocean

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Old fort


23rd September 2018

Chaos in Zanzibar
Chaos is expected when traveling but the heat makes it worse. You really had a great adventure.
24th September 2018

It has been so amazing!!! I'm home now going through the 3,310 photos...
23rd September 2018

Nice blog
Thank you for sharing a great blog
24th September 2018

thank you
Thank you for reading it!

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