Blogs from Tanzania, Africa


Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Zanzibar City May 6th 2015

Like many towns and cities in the world, Stonetown is an odd mix - even clash - between two things. London has been uncomfortably juxtaposing rich and poor since Tudor times; New York forces together millions of over-excited tourists with people attempting to go about their daily business; Paris simultaneously presents sophistication and seediness. These are of course huge generalisations, and arguably applicable to any town or city in the world. The overwhelming disparity that I felt in Stonetown, however, was between the fact that despite its historical significance, places of interest, and sheer uniqueness, it is a thoroughly neglected place. I don’t mean that is empty of tourists, or people; in fact it is swarming with locals and foreigners alike. You can barely move down some of the narrow streets for groups of bewildered tourists ... read more
Arabic door
House of Wonders

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar April 18th 2015

I have been extremely remiss in not writing about my experience of the spice tour. The Zanzibar archipelago is known as the spice islands, and at one point was the world’s biggest exporter of cloves. The island’s biggest economy now, however, is tourism, so it makes perfect sense to combine the two industries, and give tourists a glimpse of Zanzibar’s spicy secrets. I embarked on a tour of a local spice farm basically as a complete tourist. I tried to convince myself that I was not a ‘wageni’ (Swahili word for tourist) by the fact that I was selflessly accompanying my boyfriend’s mother, who was a real, true, undeniable tourist from South Africa. I was living on the island after all, albeit for less than a month at that point, I could speak approximately 10 words ... read more
Being Adorned
Curly vanilla

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 » North » Arusha April 5th 2015

Day (I'm not even sure.. they are blurring together) Firstly I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts over the past week. I suppose I could have posted little musings each day but I feel like taking one hard look at what I experienced over the past week has its own benefits. I met the Lighthouse missions group in the Nairobi airport and was pleasantly surprised to see that the group was largely of individuals close to my own age. That being said I was originally pretty timid due to the fact that the group seemed very close and were even wearing matching shirts making me awkwardly aware of how much of an outsider I was. They were also fairly curt when I attempted to converse with them which I’m sure was due to the ... read more

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar » Zanzibar City April 3rd 2015

In modern times, about the only known personage from Zanzibar is the late Freddie Mercury of the rock group Queen. He was the talented guy who sang "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." When I hear the word Zanzibar I think of spices and pirates and Vasco de Gama and all things exotic. The Sultan of Oman ruled this important trading outpost for centuries. But in looking at the history of this island, it is most infamous for being the center of the slave trade in the Indian Ocean. Tippu Tib was a notorious slave trader and ended up being one of the richest men in Zanzibar. He had large plantations and "owned" 10,000 slaves himself. The British eventually brought about the end of the slave trade in the 19th Century. We went in a ... 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 » North March 29th 2015

I did it! So as most of you know, I hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro with my friend, M last week and I am proud to say that we both made it to the summit at Uhuru Peak! Kili stands at 5,895 metres above sea level making it the highest mountain in Africa, and highest free-standing mountain in the world. I have to admit that it was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, and there were a few times on summit day that I didn’t think I would make it to the top. Thankfully our guides, Max and Winger from KiliClimbersandSafaris kept us motivated and were determined to get us to the top! My trek was 5 days long with 3 days leading up to summit day and 2 days to summit and descend. ... read more
The start of our journey at Marangu gate
M and I on day 2
Kibo Hut

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

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