the final days
02.09.2012 - 03.10.2012
Spending my last week in Tanzania getting my tan on…..guess where? ZANZIBAR! Which is where I think I left off with the last email a month ago. We had a night at the Jahazi Jazz Festival in Stone Town which was really nice at the bar on the sand, chilled out music, especially a band from Mali were great. We were introduced to 'Michael-Jackson-from-Stone-Town' ahead of his performance the next night at the Full Moon party – which we were late for but requested a special performance – though was funny a couple of hours before the festival was due to start thinking to have some pre-drinks and seeing that the bar was not even finished being built and the place was full of workmen. Talk about last minute, plus no one seemed to know WHAT was going on, drinks available? “yes”. “no” “yes” “no”. entrance fee? “yes” “no” “yes”…..but all went well. Then back up to Nungwi (still with the brits at this stage) where one night we managed to lose one of the guys and were searching the beaches for him but turned out he had dragged himself back to the room to bed, another night another one tried to swim home from another beach at high tide, the other guy (previously lost one) took off his clothes to swim out and stop him (the ‘rescuer’ cant swim well….all drunk of course) so they had left another guy on the beach who took the guys clothes not knowing what to do so when the other 2 got to the shore of another beach they had to wait in the reception of a beautiful resort in no clothes. Never a dull moment.
I went to a local disco one night and began to think the reason they have ladies night twice a week is to support the local prostitute trade. When all the others had left I went to Pongwe on the East Coast, had it all to myself besides a Masai watchman, got extremely burnt and had serious difficulties getting comfortable on the night ferry back to Dar es Salaam, even though it was quite luxury with leather lounges and air con! Check me out! Arrived at 6am in Dar and got the bus to Bagamoyo, the old capital of German East Africa. A nice seaside town, on one side of the street crumbling old buildings, the other side lovely new hotels and resorts. Went for a walk to the Holy Ghost Catholic Mission, where Livingstone’s body was laid before being taking back to the UK….i think this concludes my Livingstone trail. Had some student photos to pose for then on my way. Was ok with my room, even with a condom wrapper on the floor, until I lay down at night and spotted the actual condom under a chair. Don’t think I have moved so quickly in a long time as I did to get those sheets off me.
Another day went just out of town to the Kaole Ruins, remains of some 13th-15th mosques and tombs, some of the oldest in East Africa. They are situated amongst mangroves and were quite interesting, so hot though so had the afternoon napping in the shade on the beach. In the afternoon the shore fills with hundreds of fishing boats and makes an interesting walk. The next day was one of those travel days which just does not go to plan, in part because of another person just telling you what they think you want to hear, or wanting to help so bad that they will just make stuff up so they can appear to be of assistance. Planned to get the bus from Bagamoyo to Mlandizi then a passing bus to Tanga then another from Tanga to Pangani to retrieve my suitcase from Rasta Ally. I got to Mlandizi ok but then waited there in the stinking hot sun - its just a roadside truckstop type town - literally no shelter around the stand – as all the buses from Dar simply passed by all full, and the odd one that did come through maybe had room for one person and I was just being pushed all over the place. I've clearly lost some pushing and shoving skills since Ilongero days. So after 3 hours of waiting I decided I would just get a bus to Dar, then from Dar a bus to Tanga, so that went ok and I ended up passing by Mlandizi at 4pm, 8 hours after I had first been there in the morning. Talk about backtracking.
Back with my luggage – #1 regret of my life – and had a few days in Dar es Salaam which is not as big and scary as I had somehow had it built up. Instead of being mugged by my taxi driver, I was hugged. Has great street food, went to a few markets, a night out watching some live jazz and another at a bar with some great performers including another Michael Jackson who actually was really good and looked like him say early 90’s. met a bunch of people all stuck in Dar for some reason, one cycling through Africa stuck here for a month with visa issues, another constantly stoned german guy stuck here trying to sell his combi after driving it up from South Africa, an interesting mix. I read about an area with lots of textile shops and had to have a look…well I went a little crazy in a couple as they were the only shops I saw, then turned the corner and the are loads of shops with Kangas and Kitenge pouring out the doors. I had to run through, touching the materials and when people offered me to enter I could only pull a frightened face and say “no, I cant, no I cant” and run off. I really can’t fit another thing in my suitcase. But oh I love the, I had one traveller ask me “may I as why you DO have such a large bag? I have never seen a traveller with one like this before”.
Next was Mafia Island, south of Dar es Salaam where you board the boat at Nyamisati village. The bus guy was calling me his fiancé, so to get him to lower my fare for my suitcase, I shamelessly asked if I married him would it be cheaper, or free even. This worked and I got a good price as well as a bus full of friends - Noone seems to like the bus guys. I did send a bit of a casual ‘im boarding a boat’ message to Mum & Dad as it was not……attractive. The roof was caving in etc and where the driver stood to steer it at the back there was no direct view in front of the boat but thankfully there were no waves and we made it safely to Mafia. Only after lining up for hours to try to get a ticket in a very tightly packed crowd to be told repeatedly that they are just waiting for the ticket book. Turns out that was a lie – surprise – and I don’t really understand the problem but a few hours later I was fighting my way aboard the ladder to get on, not afraid to throw an elbow here and there. I'm BACK! When you arrive its absolute mayhem as everyone tries to get the luggage from below the boat and board the smaller boat – a little like a titanic scene – to get to the shore. I was caught up in the craziness of this even though everyone is going to get off anyway so why the rush? Madness but you look back and laugh.
I spent a couple of days in the port village of Kilindoni, I know ive said this a lot but… STARS!!! Had a funny moment when a lady showed me where a guesthouse was and told me to visit her at her market stall the next day. She was fully covered in her buibui except her eyes so laughingly she lifted her gown to show me her shoes so I could recognize her. Walking down the beach in Kilindoni is interested as all fishermen are at work on their boats and fishing lines and the shore is lined with dagaa – interesting yet stinky. I got invited to help some people lift some logs of wood which they were happy to see I was able, then the beach becomes deserted besides a german guy I ran into who looked something like Tom Hanks at the end of Castaway. I understand why everyone in Singida told me if I went to Mafia I’d be eating lots of coconuts….LOTS of coconut trees. Everyone is very excited to try their English, which can be funny when I am exciting to use my Swahili so sometimes just get told “speak English”.
I didn’t see any other tourists until going to a lodge for sunset views one evening and being invited to dine with a Yemeni man and the Tanzanian guys he was taking around as his guides, which was fine until they left the table and it was just the 2 of us, he was tryng a bit of wooing, then after a couple of beers he seemed to be quite racist so while he was arguing about his bill I slipped on out of there. Also spent a couple of days on the East Coast where the Chole Bay Marine Park is. Stayed at a lovely lodge just out of the marine park and to get to the beach you usually have to pay $20 park fee so the lodge owner hid me under the seat in his car to get me there then wrote me some things to say if any rangers ask what im doing, which was to say 'I am volunteering with Utende Frontier and searching for this tree which is used in herbal medicine'. Thank god no one asked. Went snorkeling, to save $$ just told the beachboys to take off the motor and paddle so no fuel necessary, plus you get longer on the water and I more enjoy the boat ride.
The water was stunning, especially once out on it. I was in a little wooden sail boat (dhow) and all was fine as one of the guys buckets out the water every now and then – a standard on most boats here – until just as we started to head back, a hole they had obviously repaired with glue in the past came open and the water started gushing in. I plugged that one with my toe and 2 or 3 more popped open. I was a little nervous, mainly about my camera, the water wasn’t too deep, but the guys were like no worries its fine 'hakuna matata'– I could tell they were a little nervous though, then one ended up in just his undies as he had to use all his clothes to plug the holes. When we got back to shore I was like “you WERE worried hey?” and he was like “Oh YES! haha”. Also funny talking to the Maasai working at the resorts when I ask if they swim “no Masai are scared of the water” “how about all the seafood? You enjoy?” “No masai hate eating fish”. Wrong place to be!
I decided against all advice (typical) to hire a bike and ride back to the West coast and about 1/3 up the island to Ras Mbisi. What a mistake, after passing 'Fakh Stationary' (mwahaha) 7 hours in, grazed bottom from the bike seat, absolutely drenched in sweat and muscles spasming as the roads soon end and it is all sand, which is impossible to ride on, and a nice helpful guy shows me a shortcut to get to the beach which is not a shortcut and then I get there and have 15 minutes before I have to return so I can get back to Utende before sunset. So painful but would I admit it? No. I had my kanga over my head and have to laugh as often happens when I’m pretty well wrapped in Tanzanian fabric and get called common Tanzanian names such as Hadija or Mwajumaa by people I pass. Tanzanians have a great sense of humour.
After setting up our dinner for 2, the lodge owner offered me to try ride his quad bike which was fun until you realize he may like you. It is quite an awkward position to be in, doubling up on a bike, while realizing this so it was encouragement to up the speed. Dinner was by candle and for 2 the next night as well, where he just came out and told me he wants a white wife so he can have a diverse family. When I told him I have a boyfriend at home, he told me to take a photo of him and show my family. I have to say, he did have the most amazing passionfruits (I don't know why this is sounding rude and dirty) but they sweetest most delicious fresh passionfruit juice I have ever had!
Unlike the mountain areas where all the kids know “HULLOOO” on the coast it is all “BYE BYE…BYE BYE BYE BYE”. Very cute.
Once back to mainland I headed back up to Dar, then back again further down the coast to Kilwa Masoko as a base to visit some ruins. The beach there was nice once you pass the rubbish, and the ruins on the nearby island Kilwa Kisiwani really interesting once the drama of getting there passed as they tried to tell me white people aren’t allowed on the local boat to get there, of course so you hire your own boat. So I went on about racism and how it is no different to getting on a dalla dalla and if that happened in Australia they would be called racist.....and they eventually gave in. woohoooo. I had no Plan B. Pretty amazing setting as the backdrop to the ruins - scattered all over the island so prepare for some scorching sun and not much shelter - is the beautiful water which by the end of the day, sweaty and red as a lobster I was dying to jump into.
Other than that, more beaches in Dar, the most amazing chocolate brownie I have ever had, several meatball subways and steers burgers, and I somehow found myself back on Zanzibar last week for the 4th time, just to kill some time before heading home next week. Once again enjoyed Stone Town, sitting on a step on a Friday, the Muslim holiday...or holy day (still unsure what to say), watching as the lady at the corner shop hands out lollies to passing kids....and me. Getting a whiff of the towns gutters after the rain. Putting fresh papaya onto my foot full of sea urchin barbs, passing by Ben Bella secondary school (was he not an Algerian dictator?), being offered the biggest bag of weed I’ve ever seen (of course the first ive ever seen) to go with my bangle at the markets, getting greeted by maasai in italian and responding to them in swahili who then respond to me in english, watching a scary trend sweeping some country in europe of white speedos. So, it seems, this will be my last blog from Africa (don’t plan on doing much off the sand this coming week). Thanks for reading (if I’ve still got you) .