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Vegimite. Coming to a Masai village near you‏

Up the mountains, down to the coast and return to Zanzibar...AGAIN

Back in Stone Town, Zanzibar! Still absolutely in love with this place. As much as I try to visit other areas and get inland etc, can’t help but come back to the coast. Where was i…..

Arusha turned out not to be AS full on as I’d feared (big town anxiety) and I think especially the area I was staying was definitely not the nice area so people probably just assumed I was not worth bothering. I hadn’t noticed my last time here in April, or the first couple of days this time due to the rain but one day it cleared up and looming over town is the very impressive Mount Meru. It looks especially stunning in the late afternoon as the sun sets and just the tip glows gold. I did some shopping, found ice cream. For my last safari in Africa I joined another group and went to Tarangire National Park. The drive there is really great, alongside Meru and then through dry plains farmed by Masai. Alongside the road are teenage Masai dressed in all black with their faces painted white (as in Ace ventura, I was half expecting Jim Carey to jump out) as this is the traditional dress they wear during the healing period after circumcision, though I would assume these guys would be there just to get photo money. The park is beautiful, dotted with baobabs and perfect ‘umbrella’ acacia’s and with a vary of landscapeds from hilly scrublands to sprawling golden grassy plains. We saw elephants while waiting in the carpark to enter and loads more once inside. Some lovely bird life which usually doesn’t interest me but there are some very pretty colours, also plenty of ostriches, wildebeest, zebras, and a few distant lions. A lot of the time we couldn’t stop for long as we would get swarmed by ‘sleeping flies’ which REALLY hurt when they bite and can carry sleeping sickness. The safari itself was great though and we had all been promised a lot longer (double the time) in the park by the boss.

NOTE to anyone planning to come do a safari in TZ – DO NOT USE AFRICAN SMART SAFARIS!!!

Long story short – you know I’m good at this – we ended up in a huge fight with him and pretty much all the staff, then they all turned on me and said I am the bad person trying to guide the 3 German people also complaining in the wrong direction and I brainwashed them to think they didn’t enjoy it. I was “a very bad girl’, ‘colonial days are over’, we still got to see the animals, whats the problem? “Yes, you had 6 hours, 12:30 – 4:30”…hah this, guy used to be a lawyer yet he can’t count? But my favourite was when I pointed out their contract stating a full day safari recommends AT LEAST 7 hours, and everyone tried to convince me that ‘at least’ means ‘less than 7 hours’. I was having a real laugh. Actually, even better than that was when the boss, in his ridiculous shiny cream pinstripe suit, jumped up and ordered “CALL THE EMBASSY”. Hahah again in hysterics. I was ready to start cursing Arusha, but then as usual after a bad experience someone was able to turn it around and when I went back to my guest house I had a really funny evening with the Masai who run the place, in particularly one woman who I had a real laugh with about marrying her brother as he stood there very nervously laughing. The people working there come from a Masai village a couple of hours away, arriving in Arusha in groups to run the guest house for a couple of months and do various other business such as selling jewellery before returning. She was dressed in her beautiful blue and red shukas, fabulous jewelery, and just kept brushing my hair back and saying “nakupenda sana” “ I like you a lot”. We discussed the details of the marriage and worked out I could go home and study then come back here for work. I had to tell her I would not be able to carry buckets of water etc as I am a lot weaker than Masai women, and told her I have tried before to carry a bag on my head and failed (I did try once and I think i shrunk a couple of cm’s. apparently something you have to do from a child). Then with a goodnight hug she walked me to my room….then entered with me and shut the door behind which had me a little confused as we sat there awkwardly on my bed. Until she presented me with a gold bracelet, and came back a little later with a necklace also. In return I gave her a tube of vegemite, telling her most other nationalities don’t like it but maybe Masai will. She at least pretended to be grateful. She even called me the next morning to make sure I got on the bus safely. We passed Mount Kilimanjaro in Moshi and it would have been the perfect day to stop in Moshi and snap some photo's of it as it was sooo clear...ahhh next time.

Next stop - Mtae. Head up the Usambara Mountains to Mtae, a tiny village perched on the ridge of a mountain, without electricity apart from a few generators, no cars or even motorbikes, just bicycles, and the only way out are the 3 daily buses from 4-5am. A few skipped heartbeats along the way, winding along the bumpy, narrow road on the edge of the steep mountains, and certainly not the ideal place for the driver to get out and let a couple of the younger guys working on the bus have a practice. My room at the guesthouse was just big enough for my bag, but to open it I had to take it out into the corridor (outside, next to the huge pot of water constantly heating over a charcoal fire for our warm buckets of shower water). The first morning that I started my hike with Rogeros (?), my guide, was very foggy and COLD and we couldn’t see much so first we climbed down the mountain to see some caves where a traditional healer – still commonly used in the Usambara region – stays, one for living, another for work. Then we climbed back up heading to Mambo view point . I am so unfit, I thought I was going to have to be helicoptered out. It was worth it in the end, as the fog cleared and down below you can see where the gold, green and red Tsavo plains – stretching all the way up to Kenya – are met by the mountains. Passing through villages along the way I came to think it must be the fresh mountain air but people in the mountainous areas seem to be sooooooo nice! Even kids, who don’t ask for anything but for a picture so they can look at themselves. All day I heard “HAAALLLOOOOOO” from all around, even when I could not see anyone, or “UPIGE PICHA” (take a picture). So gorgeous as some really young ones get so excited screaming “HULO” and waving big with both arms up while running to get a closer look they almost lose balance and fall. The houses all have 2 tiny windows and a teeny door – no big mama’s here, life is tough in Mtae – and most are painted a pink-peach colour by mixing water with the earth of the area. I think Mtae is in the lovely phase of just starting to get visitors, but not many and knowing that the few who do come to the area generally go to Lushoto, the nearest town about 3 hours away. Everyone is amazingly welcoming and the kids haven’t been handed out enough money or lollies or pens to start associating these gifts with foreigners. The only not so friendly person was a young kid who I saw throwing around a chameleon on a stick. I told him its not a toy and put it in the bush, and then he ran alongside me for a while angrily chasing me with a stick. Fair enough, it was his toy.

I even met an Australian at the sunset view point which was beautiful (the viewpoint, not him) and his group invited me for dinner. After a tough day hiking, my first question was whether there’d be beer which was funny as he was the only Aussie in the group and apparently the only one who had asked that earlier on as well. I had a another day of hiking, through more mountain top villages, steep farms, fertile green valleys and to the peak of one mountain with the hut and fences of a chief of the area a long time ago “how long Rogeros? How many years ago?”…”many years”, a characteristically well informed guide. Up there I was serenaded with ‘Happy Besssday” by a group of kids and had a quick photoshoot. I couldn't recommend paying this beautiful place a visit more strongly. I felt so at home and the man running the guest house was just the sweetest and treated me like a daughter, as well as the attached mgahawa where the man whips up some great meals (beans comparable to Ilongero, and VEGGIES!) I stayed at Mtitu wa Ndei Guesthouse I here, basic, but all part of the experience and they'll bend over backwards for you.

After Mtae, back to Lushoto, a small town in a fertile valley. I decided to go for a walk around town but after 5-10 minues that’s it. All the hikes are ‘expensive’ as they are ‘cultural tourism’ organizations so they support the community but by this stage I really just wanted to say can’t you just take out the community support fee, I just want cheap cheap? So I just did a day hike through the lovely Magamba Rainforest, but my feet were by then starting to reject this exercise and fall apart so I was happy to get back to town and into my thongs. Good excuse to put the hiking shoes at the bottom of the case and throw the grotty clothes away.

Next stop, Tanga, Tanzania’s 3rd largest town which had me pretty unmotivated. It was actually really laid back. Once you get away from the bus stand, no one really hassles you, the seafront area is nice, and its quite enjoyable. I stayed at a pretty nice place, one of the older men there is Mnyaturu (the tribe from Singida) so Bula was back. Not much to do in Tanga on a rainy day, especially a Sunday. The days are pretty hot and steamy but the evenings so mild and beautiful it’s impossible to stay inside. Ramadan ended while I was here, and being back in the largely Muslim coastal area was nice as there are 3 days for celebration for Eid, especially in the night as everyone goes out for fancy food, the ice cream shops suddenly appear from nowhere bursting with kids and there was such a nice atmosphere. I went for a bite and sat with 2 old ‘spinsters’ who bought me dinner of fried potato slices and delicious coconut chutney (which is also served at the front step of my guest house here in Stone Town). One of those nights I know I'll look back on and feel all warm and fuzzy. When people take you in, when everyone appears happy, it is all about family and love...really kicks those crappy moments and crappy things people do in the world out and replaces them with hope for humanity when you see the core of what life is about and human nature. Ahhhh.

Anyway, I took a bus to a village about an hour away on the waterfront to see the Tongoni ruins, the remains of a mosque and tombs from the 14th/15th century. Really atmospheric as it is set amongst bush and baobabs near the mangroves and tiny fishing village. The buildings were built from coral reef brought from Persia and some still grow coral. On the way back the driver of the car worried that there would be police up ahead and the car was over-filled, so he made one of the guys put a kitenge on the front of the car “put the flowery one” and told us all to start singing if we see the police as it was still Eid and he hoped they would just let us off. That was funny, another moment when laughter and smiles erase unite EVERYONE.

After Tanga I headed down the coast to Pangani at the mouth of the Pangani river. The beaches aren’t amazing but are lined with coconuts and the odd cow leg. I hired a bike for a couple of days and crossed the river on the ferry to ride to some other beaches and villages. I actually really enjoyed riding around, much nicer than walking and I only fell off once. The only thing is along the main road when trucks or buses pass, they obviously see my stiffness and just as they pass honk the horn and then turn around to look out the window and laugh at my reaction. Mzungu are funny aren't we? The few streets around the river have buildings and doors similar to Zanzibar so that was nice too, little did I know I’d be there/here in a few days.

I was here for the 3rd and final day of Eid and as usual everyone was out and about, the women and girls looking especially fabulous in amazing clothes, makeup and beautiful henna painted up their arms. I was adopted by a couple of young rasta guys who have a tourism office but ended up just helping me as a sister “dada Nicole”. Maybe we bonded because of the state of my hair after the beach, the humidity and wearing a hat which had created a dreadlock appearance. I met a group of brits and have been travelling with them since, getting a boat over to Nungwi - one of the northern beaches of Zanzibar - and although we all thought we were going to die at some point during the trip, arriving on the turquoise waters at the beach made it worth it. I got

to leave my big bags at Rasta Ally’s office in Pangani, and use his tent he left at his rasta friends lodge in Nungwi. We stayed here, and you can imagine a lodge run by a bunch of rastas is quite and experience. The beach here is beeeeeeeeautiful, lots of Masai, lots of Italians and LOTS of white speedo's. A night out at Kendwa Rocks, the beach party, had similar consequences to when I went there on my tour, but was just as fun. Came to Stone Town this week and by chance there is a jazz festival on so a few of us are staying to see that and then head back up to the northern beaches. Yesterday we did a day trip to Changuu Island (Prison Island) where there is a sanctuary for endangered giant tortoises. Also did some snorkelling and wandered around the island. Of course each night I have been at the Forodhani night markets , getting in as many REAL Zanzibar pizzas – as well as learning to cook them - (the copies on the mainland are no good) and as much seafood as possible, and we have found a bar with sunset views and happy hour at the same time so have been there 6 times so far in 3 days. Last night we went to Livingstone’s, a bar on the beach here in Stone Town for the opening night of the festival with some jazz bands which was great and today heading back up to the beaches for Kendwa Rocks again, tonight featuring Michael Jackson! We met him last night, he must’ve had more surgery.

As always, amazing getting lost in the alleyways, admiring the beautiful doors and architecture…I really don’t think I could ever tire of this.

Happy Fathers Day all you Baba’s.

Posted by neerg_08 05:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged safari zanzibar tanga stone_town nungwi arusha forodhani tarangire_national_park mtae lushoto pangani tongoni_ruins Comments (0)

Return to Zanzibar

Stone Town, Unguja, Jozani Forest, Michamvi, Jambiani, Bwejuu

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

Ms Bahati

Posted by neerg_08 13:41 Archived in Tanzania Tagged gardens market town zanzibar stone tanzania forest jozani jambiani unguja bwejuu michamvi forodhani darijani Comments (0)

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