Stone Town, Unguja, Jozani Forest, Michamvi, Jambiani, Bwejuu
21.09.2011 - 30.09.2011
Habari za Jioni!
Friday night in Stone Town. Not the quietest night of the week around here. It’s the Muslim Holy Day and prayers have been blaring out of all the Mosques around town for hours. Zanzibar has so far been looooovely – I don’t know if I will be able to make myself leave in a week! I am on the Zanzibar Archipelago island Unguja, trying to make up for what I did not get to see when I was here with my tour. Where do I start?.....
I was happy to make it safely from Johannesburg. As much as I hate to admit it, I was on the plane thinking “oh gosh I am on an African airline”…actually, when we landed a South African guy next to me said the same thing. Arriving in Dar es Salaam airport I was hit with the same instant humidity as when I arrived by road last time. The air con in the airport was not working so I lay on the metal seats to keep cool and tried to get some sleep to the ‘soothing’ humming of the broken air con. Then the shortest flight I have ever been on – 20 minutes – to Zanzibar. I wish it was longer as the reef is an incredible sight from above! I felt right back at home in East Africa straight away with the layer of sweat, lack of toilet paper, squat toilets, mysteriously dirty feet (HOW do they get into this state?!), perfume of mozi spray, dodging cars and bikes and puddles in narrow alleyways, regular power failures, back on the bottled water, and roosters crowing outside my bedroom window. The cold showers have actually been a pleasure, I think even if I had access to hot water it would go untouched.
I obviously looked like crap when I arrived at the hostel after no sleep. When I asked about a dorm room the young guy working here looked really worried and said they had none. But he said “I think you need sleep” so gave me a room to myself for the same price, and said for me to find him when I wake and he would make me a coffee. I lay down and couldn’t stop smiling, not only because I was so happy to be back, but because I was stretching my arms out on a DOUBLE BED!!!!!!!
I have enjoyed taking my time around Stone Town this time, really exploring the alley ways and getting lost – a map is useless as you may think you are on a pathway and on the right track, then turns out it is actually a road and somehow you are on the other side of town. I love it though, what look like run-down buildings and dirty streets really give the place so much charm and atmosphere, I am sure I mentioned this last time.
Many men walk around Zanzibar in their kanzu and kofia white robes and caps (need some tips from them on keeping clothes white in Africa) and most women are veiled in their flowing black bui-bui cover alls and gorgeous coloured scarves – that is dedication! Some have only one eye showing, and here I am looking as if I have been hosed down, in only one light layer, wishing I could strip off to shorts and a singlet! I have been excited about getting to try out my growing African wardrobe, with the bright colours and shoulder scarves.
I spent 5 nights in Stone Town when I arrived, and each night was spent at the Forodhani Gardens night seafood markets. And I will be back there tomorrow night guaranteed! Most days rain either in the morning or at night, which is nice to cool things down for a minute or 2 but makes it hard to walk around without being splashed by passing vehicles. Last Thursday I spent the day getting my bearings and shopping along Gizenga Street, then had dinner and was serenaded with a popular Tanzanian song ‘Malaeka (My Angel)’ by a local boy called Peter. He bought me a sugar cane juice but things were moving too fast when he started talking about how he wants “mixed babies”…I think he was using me for my skin colour haha.
Friday I spent 2 hours looking for this place that is meant to make nice coffee’s – a change from the powdered milk – but finally had to admit defeat. I didn’t even want a coffee in the end I just wanted to find the dam place! This happens a bit. I ended up meeting a Zanzibarian guy who has become a good friend and is my Swahili teacher while I am here. It was a really good day spent walking around the back streets that I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable walking by myself, only because of the stigma of alley ways, but I suppose here every street is one. So with this I got to shop at non tourist shops (and prices to match) and had a typical Zanzibarian lunch of green ndizi (banana) in some really nice sauces. Huge meal for about $2.That night I went to a nice hotel known for Taarab Music night. It is a mixture of Arabic, African and a little bit Indian. Was nice to listen to for a bit and sit in a posh hotel with the waves crashing in the background.
Saturday we passed through Darajani Market, avoiding being splattered with fish guts, and bought some fresh passionfruits, pineapple and red & yellow ndizi’s to take for the day out. Then jumped in a dalladalla to Jozani Forest to see the red Colobus monkeys. Very cute, they remind me of little old men (no offence to any little old men). My receipt was made out to ‘Ms Bahati’, my new Swahili name. It means Luck, though when he explained why I was to be named this I didn’t quite understand. We then continued to the East coast to Michamvi. The water there was crystal clear and SO warm! I must have forgotten that I am a mzungu for the day and got so burnt my nose blistered. Later on we went to a Reggae beach party, not sure of the quality of my reggae dance moves. Sunday morning all I wanted was a greasy burger so my brunch of goat stew, although tasty, wasn’t ideal – nor was the date juice. I actually felt like the odd one out eating with my knife and fork at this place and it was insisted that I use my hands…..so in they went. After porridge, chapatti and octopus for dinner at ‘Jaws Corner’, went to Forodhani Gardens for more food, then to the Old Fort for more Reggae Music and with “Tight Security but Polite” haha. Appreciate the honesty on the invite slips.
I went to my new friend’s Aunties house for lunch, which his cousins and Aunt had been busy preparing. So we sat on a woven mat on the floor of the lounge room and hoed into the delicious green ndizi and fish dishes with hands. His cousin’s wife gave me a lovely kanga as a gift and wrapped it around my head like a good Muslim girl. Then to be polite I walked around for the afternoon wearing it, and it seems here you get more male attention the more you cover up! Went for a late afternoon swim at Bububu’s Fuji beach, and sat on the sand drinking out of a coconut.
On Tuesday I went back to the East Coast to Bwejuu. It is similar to Matemwe, the fishing village I stayed at last time. My bungalow on the beach was nice and once again the walks along the beach are so interesting, as ‘Maasai’ pass by on bikes (or chatting up girls), women carry huge loads of seaweed on their heads and kids sit in dhow’s banked on the sand waiting for their Dad’s to return from the days fishing. I had a walk through Bwejuu village, and stopped to say hi to a group of kids. When I was bent down to show them their photos 2 of the little girls lunged at my hair and started plaiting it, one little boy kept patting my boob while another was lifting my dress. My hair was very attractive for the afternoon you can imagine. I had 2 nights in Bwejuu and then a night in Michamvi, this time staying in a different area to the day trip, just as beautiful. The sand is so soft that you sink to your knees at some parts of the beach….quite an effort to walk anywhere. Since Wednesday I have been a bit sick with Tanzania Tummy, which is hard to be discreet about when trying to explain why you want bread and not seafood to someone who doesn’t speak much English. I then watched whoever I had quietly, on the side, spoken to go tell everyone else around (the hand gesture of rubbing the belly is the giveaway) trying to help me. Everyone has been very helpful, insisting I try some local herbal remedy or other, boiled ginger, lime and soda water, some sort of papaya alcohol which is illegal…..meanwhile I have just been thinking I JUST WANT MY WESTERN CHEMICALLY PUMPED DRUGS! Octopus probably wasn’t the best idea for dinner last night, nor was my calamari coconut curry today, but I am in Zanzibar and refuse to miss out on this seafood!
Arrived back in Stone Town late this afternoon after they have apparently had torrential rain last night and this morning. It was as if dams and rivers have appeared overnight. Drove past a timber furniture stall with floating beds. In the next week I hope to visit Jambiani, where I had a short stop at and it is just beeeeeautiful – the turquoise water is STUNNING and the sand blindingly white.
I am enjoying catching the dalladalla’s, and at as little as 20 or 30cents for some trips, it is within my budget. I still haven’t mastered gracefully clambering in though, or managed to make my way to a bench without bumping my head several times. African women can manage it with a baby on their back somehow, and I can’t even look after myself. I can decipher enough Swahili to know when I am being laughed at. The language lessons are actually starting to sink in, and when people are in conversation I can pick up words that I understand and somewhat figure out the topic. Especially if it is food related! It’s nice to be able to respond to people with something other than Jambo, and they usually get pretty excited that you know any Swahili.
Today I saw a rooster with champagne coloured feathers. I am sure I was not hallucinating. I caught myself just in time to stop drooling. Tomorrow will be 4 months since leaving Australia, and champagne. (and family and friends of course)
Poa Kachizi Kama Ndizi – cool crazy like a banana
Makini Kama Mr Beanie – Wonderful like Mr Bean
Shuwari Kama Bahari – Cool like the ocean