Stone Town

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July 11th 2014
Published: July 30th 2014
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8, 9 and 11July: Dar es Salaam to Stone Town and Stone Town

8 July:

A very early start to the day to catch the ferry to Zanzibar. A few people get seasick so the idea was to sit outside with them and I could tell them stories to distract them. We found a nice spot on the back of the boat on the second story looking out of the water. I sat with Emily and Rachel and it was nice to find out more about their work and listen to interesting stories as I talked about my time in Singapore and working there.

We arrived in Stone Town on Zanzibar around lunchtime. The port was crowded and took us sometime to collect everyone in our group to go through immigration there. We handed our passports to our local guide and then had to go through to have the police check out bags. At first he started to open bags and go through the content but I think he realized that we were a group and had large bags so input my on the table and without looking marked a c on kit with chalk and waved me off. On the other side, we waited for our passports. He local guide came back and once the passports were handed back, he started us towards the hotel. We were all wondering though where Kanyo, our main guide was. Turned out he had been arrested and as a bribe, they were asking him to pay $200. He didn't want to leave us so he ended up just paying it.

Our group checked into the lodge. Samantha and I had our room assignment dig two other girls set up. However, we had asked the tour company if we could pay for our own separate room. After some discussion with the front desk, they were nice enough to upgrade us to the hotel next door which was connected to the current one. He room was amazing and a nice bathroom. Soon after we settled in, we were off already to go for a local meal. The van stopped in front of an actual house and we were invited in for out lunch of potatoes curry, rice, bananas, chipotis, and watermelon. Was fabulous and tasted amazing that most of us ate way to much.

After our lunch, we head out for the spice tour. They took us to an area where they grow all the place in one area for demonstration. They had coconuts, which was fun to watch the local guy climb the tree and send down a few coconuts for us, oranges, nutmeg, coco, cinnamon, pepper and many others. They were very entertaining as well with making he girls cups to put the plants in after trying them and smelling them. They also made us necklaces that looked like shrimp and flower brackets from the long leaves. They made the guys ties that hung on a piece of grass.

In the evening, we had some down time and enjoyed a view overlooking the ocean. After sunset, we went for dinner in the busy Forodhani markets. Was amazing food. They had rice bread than looked like a pancake, spicier potatoes, rice balls, and many other local foods that were really good. Many others tried the local pizza and said it was amazing as well. While waiting on our food at one of the stalls, we met a girl from the US. She had gone gone to Zanzibar to study for a semester and ended up loving it so much, she decided to stay. She has a job with a local water waste management company trying to get clean water for the island and teach the locals. Was very interesting to talk to her.

9 July:

There were so many option activities we looked at which was cheaper to come back with. Julie, Mark, Samantha and I decided to do the colobus monkey walk first for the morning we had so as not to be rushed on the other things such as prison island and walking around Stone Town. The four of us were picked up in the morning and headed to the forest area about an hour drive. We stopped first at the front of the park and picked up our guide. He was really good. We went for a walk through the forest and he told us about the different trees. At one of the area, there were tons of frogs. They were so small that five of them would fit into my palm. After we walked for about fifteen minuets, we crossed the road and saw the blue monkeys. They we're gorgeous with their grey blue fur. Our guide was telling us that many of the monkeys there, the blue monkeys and colobus monkey, were becoming extinct because the locals were using their food for buildings and such. However, the government turned it around and taught the people they should use such materials and in turn, the tourist who come to see the monkeys, some of the profits are given to the villages. Creating the incentive worked and the monkeys came back to the area.

After the blue monkeys, we walked for a little longer, especially through some of the bush area to reach where there was a family of colobus monkeys. They were everywhere. It was funny as the same spot the monkeys were in, there were many cows tied to the trees there as well...our steps were cautious as not to step in poo. We did end up about a foot away from many of the monkeys and what one point, was fun to see the mom pulling the ticks and bugs off one of the babies as he squirmed around. We followed and watched the monkeys for quite sometime before we walked to a dirt road. Our driver picked us up there so we could drive down the road a little ways to see the mangroves. As we walked around the mangroves, our guide was telling us hoe the roots are very strong. At one stope he told us we could test that theory. All of us got a chance to climb out onto the roots and in a spot where you could take a nice picture. The theory was proved especially with us joking that Mark, at 150kgs, was able to walk and sit on them.

Once our trouble was over, we made our way back to the hotel. We were back by 12 and had till 1 when we would depart so our guide took the four of us to a restaurant for lunch. Along he way we met with Michael and Linus who ended up joining us. Our guide took us to an Indian restaurant. We told the waitresses we had to have a quick meal as we needed to be back by 1:00. By the time we received all our food, we had to rush and eat. The food was amazing. I had a curry with chicken and rice that was very good. We finished quickly and paid. Julie and Mark were so nice that they treated us to lunch as a farewell gift. Was amazing and very kind of them. Once back at the hotel, we realized the others weren't back yet either. We ended up waiting for them until about 2 when we packed up the cars and hopped in the van to head to Kendwa Beach.

The drive was only about one hour thirty minuets. Once we arrived, we settled our rooms and all split up. It was such a nice room to have for the next six nights of the trip.

Settling into the room for a long period of time felt so nice after all the traveling around and camping. Afterwards, we ran into most of our group who were headed for dinner. We ended up joining them. After dinner, Samantha and I were so exhausted that we left soon after we ate our seafood curry and rice.

11 July:

Our day to return to Stone Town for Julie, Mark, Samantha and I. We went in an hour and a half taxi ride back to meet the local guide. He gave us another local guide to help us around the area. Samantha wanted to mail a package, buy new shoes (since she had left hers on the truck), and go by a pharmacy. The one guide took her and the other of us three went through the markets. I finally found a nice shirt for my new phew with a lion on it so I picked up that, a mask, and a local recipe book. After our shopping and Samantha came back, our guide showed us around some of the city. We walked around for about an hour and stopped at re shops as well as Samantha was looking for a stool. She ended up finding one similar to what she was looking for made of rose wood. It was heavy but was what she wanted so we picked it up. We then headed back to the same Indian restaurant for lunch before heading to prison island.

Once we had finished our lunch, our local guide took us on a boat out to prison island. The main attraction is the tortoises conservation. We were able to hold one that was 10 years old and feed many of them. The oldest turtle there was 155 years old. After spending much time there, we went to see the prison. It is now a hotel area with a restaurant at the prison site. Was neat to see though that the still had the steel loops on the floors where the prisoners would have been loved up to. They also still had many of the walls where you could see how small the rooms were and then off the back was the long drop toilets that would have been there that went straight into the ocean.

On the way out, we had the option to snorkel but due to the waves and not enjoying snorkeling too much, we decided just to head back to the main shore to see the slave trade museum area. We went through a walk to see the old fort which is the outline of the walls still standing and then passed a Christian church as well as the food market (smelled terrible) with them selling fish on boards in the road. After about thirty minuets walk from the port, we arrived at the slave trade museum. He took us into a nice looking house where we went to the basement. In the basement were two rooms that one wkd have house 75 slaves and he other 50. The room was low and you could only stand in the small aisle. The rooms looked so small and only had one slit in the wall as a window. I could not have imaged so many people cramped into those rooms. After learning about the slave trade with the capture of people and hen for there they would cram those still alive onto the boats to journey to India. From India, they would be transported to Europe, US, UK and such. We then went to the church now built there which was really interesting. Was built for after the slave trade.inside, the choir was practicing and it was amazing to hear their voices as we learned more of the history of the museum.

After an amazing day around Stone Town, we started our journey back to the beach for our last meal together as a group. We arrive just in time to shower and reach the beach for our seafood buffet dinner. We had prawns, fish, chicken, rice, veggies and so much other amazing food that everyone indulged into for the night. With photos everywhere and lovely chats, we all ended the night.

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