Spices, Stonetown, Sand and Sun

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January 2nd 2012
Published: January 2nd 2012
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Zanzibar BeachZanzibar BeachZanzibar Beach

Beach In Front Of Our Resort
First, a few housekeeping notes. Digestive functions all ok (sorry to disappoint you Gordon); malaria meds' side effects - none to speak of to date; except for one tee shirt lost somewhere on Zanzibar, all items still in hand. Attempts to tone down the blond hair have rather failed - sun too strong and hot; upside is a nice tan (already). Am still in awe of the heat; consistent mid-thirties temps and have finally become accustomed to always sweating (although the many pools and ocean we have encountered so far have helped immensely).

On to Zanzibar. We flew to the island with our safari companions - Mon's sister Carol, her husband Christian and daughter Calista (all currently living in Dar), Christian's sister Christine (visiting from Paris) and Joanne, an Ottawa friend of Carol's. Our happy little band landed and was transported to our resort and home base on the northeast coast of the island. We spent a couple of days relaxing and swimming and not driving anywhere. A word about the Indian Ocean - magnificent. I have never swum in water so warm and inviting. The stretch of coast we were on was fairly shallow and was protected by a
From Our ResortFrom Our ResortFrom Our Resort

Early Morning
long barrier shoal perhaps a mile or so out which kept waves small or nonexistent. It was truly like a giant bathtub.

After some r and r we were ready for exploration. Joanne, Christine, Mon and I did a tour of a spice plantation and walking in the old part of Zanzibar town called Stonetown. The spice tour was fascinating and our guide played a wonderful game of 'guess what spice this is' as we meandered in the cool green forest of tropical palms and fragrant plants. We would each get a crushed portion of leaves or bark or flower or root and tried to guess between cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, ginger, pepper, lemongrass, cocoa, coffee and others. Then we were invited under a palm-thatched awning to sample local watermelon, cucumber, coconut (milk and nut), pineapple, grapefruit and my personal favourite (not) Jackfruit - a large, football shaped fruit with beige coloured and rubbery flesh. All washed down with lemongrass or ginger tea. Yum.

Stonetown was fascinating. Several centuries old, it was the site of the largest slave market in east Africa. Little evidence of that sad chapter remains. The trade was abolished in 1873 and an Anglican church built over the demolished holding cells and auction site in 1874. A memorial was erected several years ago (see pic) and it utilized original chains used to restrain the unfortunate souls.

Moving on from this site we walked the narrow streets and alleyways to the market and went through the fish and meat market and then on to the veg and fruit and cloth and clothes and household items of all sorts. Then tramped to a local hotel and up four flights of stairs (in the requisite heat) to a rooftop patio that enabled a fabulous 360 degree view of the town and harbour. We lunched at a tree-shaded spot on the Stonetown beach festooned with fishing boats, ferries, gadget sellers and beach goers. Then, after visiting a few more sites (including a former Sultan's palace renamed the Wonder Tower and being refurbished as a museum and cultural center), we said goodbye to our guide Mamoud and made our way back gratefully to swims and cool drinks.

Zanzibar is a lovely and soothing place. After a week we sadly ended our holiday and returned to Dar es Salaam to celebrate New Year's at a 400 plus person dinner and party at the Dar Yacht Club. The music was 'funky' (stuff from our youth that made us laugh) and amazing fireworks over our heads at the water's edge. Happy New Year y'all, lots more pics below and next to Kenya and Rwanda.


Additional photos below
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Stonetown StreetStonetown Street
Stonetown Street

Narrow Street - No Cars Here
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Dhow Races

Dhow Races In Front of Our Resort

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