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Coasting Tanzania

the final days


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) .


Posted by neerg_08 05:52 Archived in Tanzania Tagged zanzibar stone_town nungwi kendwa dar_es_salaam mafia_island chole_bay kilondoni kilwa kilwa_kisiwani kilwa_masoko ras_mbisi bagamoyo kaole_ruins Comments (0)

A Touch of Paradise: Tanzania - Malawi

Arusha, Lake Mayara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Chitimba

I am just sitting looking out at Lake Malawi, which is so huge it just seems like the ocean. We have all found it hard to snap out of island mode after Zanzibar, as everyone is so laid back it is infectious. But before getting to that, I’ll start from the beginning…(lucky you, cancel your plans for the day)
Tanzania was been everything I imagined to see in Africa, compacted into one country. We crossed the border from Kenya Saturday (25th) and drove to Arusha. I love photos of the road as I think you see so much of a place by the sides of the roads. There were cow markets, Maasai walking down what seemed like an endless road, with nothing in site but red dirt and of course acacia trees. There must be some walking done over here! People are quite laid back about work, one roadwork area we passed a guy had a green and a red flag for stop and go, and he was waving them both and when we slowed down he was cacking himself that he had messed with us. Everything is “Poa” (Cool) and Hakuna Matata.
We arrived at Arusha at our camp, Snake Park. On Sunday we started our 3 day safari, first day at Lake Manyara national park. I had a really good group in my 4wd, and our driver Jovin was lovely. Lake Manyara was not the best safari we have done, but that is just being spoilt. It was pretty seeing the salt lake from a distance, but other than that the highlight was definitely having elephants come so close to our 4wds and cross the road in between the cars. I was sure one was about to charge as it had a baby with it, but Hakuna Matata. That night we arrived at camp at Karatu, a town seemingly dedicated to Hilary Clinton. There were at least 5 “Hilary Clinton” stalls and shops. Even a “Hilary Clington supermarket” with the g crossed out. Our guides had set up our tents and had cooked dinner ready for us, which was a real treat! There were also some dancers that performed at the site which was great and we got to join in dancing, which doesn’t take much for this group.

Next morning was another early start for Ngorongoro crater which was spectacular! (trying to mix up the describing words) It was so cold and misty driving down to the middle of the crater and once we got down there it was just open plains and more wildebeest, zebras and antelope than I have seen in such density anywhere else. The great migration stared early this year so I think they had already reached the northern part of the Serengeti by the time we were there. I won’t mention all the wildlife we saw again, I’ll save that for the Serengeti. The crater was formed by a volcano ???????????? years ago which erupted. The volcanic ash formed the Serengeti, and the volcano collapsed, forming the crater. After the crater we went to another Maasai village, which was optional but I thought it would be interesting to compare villages. I am glad I did because the location, singing and dancing was fantastic, though they were a bit pushy with their markets and there was a bit of pressure to buy from the person whose hut you went into. The Maasai have more than enough of my money!

We then continued on towards the Serengeti, with an afternoon game drive, which was really just driving towards the location of our camp in the middle of the Serengeti, no fence, no night guard (which luckily I didn’t know until the next day). We saw a leopard with a gazelle dragged up the tree, and a pair of lions on their honeymoon. Apparently when lions first “pair up” they go off for about a week and mate every hour. These 2 lions were on the side of the road and as our 4wd was parked there a few metres away, the female made some ‘sexy lion moves’ and they mated there right in front of us….for a whole 17 seconds! That was pretty cool to see. That night camping I could hear all sorts of noises; hyenas, wild dogs…. in between all the snoring from the nearby tents. Tuesday we woke up early to watch the sunrise over the plains. The safari was great, though I think anything compared to the Maasai Mara is going to come 2nd, as being able to drive off the actual road really made it. We were excited to see a cheetah lying on a rock in the distance, and then further down the road there was one actually sat on the road. They are usually so rare to find so this was lucky. All of our trucks were lined in front of it, and on the other side of the road was another cheetah and the one on the road made this crying noise as it couldn’t see its friend past all of us. Then the other walked over and they met on the road and walked off together. Very cute. After a few break downs and flat tyres we were back to Snake Park.

On Wednesday morning we had a walk around our campsite which, as you may know from the name, has a snake park. I held a baby croc, brown house snake and some other small snake….but big enough. Call me Bindi Irwin. We started the drive on towards Dar es Salaam. The sunset over the distant mountains was amazing as we drove along. I think I am using that word too much. Then we started to see more banana trees and the landscape turned more tropical, like we were back in Uganda. We stopped overnight and had some things stolen from a couple of peoples tents in the campsite, so instead of fixing the fence they sent out a guy with a rifle to stand by our tents all night.

Arriving in Dar es Salaam I was awoken from my long sleep to the sticky humidity. It is by far the most developed city we have been in, more so than Nairobi to my surprise. We got the ferry, as we were told by a guy sitting next to us, from the “good side of town” to the “bad side” and arrived at our campsite on the beach. It was really nice and camping on the beach a lot softer than dirt and rocks. The toilet doors all have signs on them “Inside camp=safe, Outside camp=not safe, Please this is not a joke” and there is about 100m of beach then on either side a big warning sign not to pass that point. But besides all that it really was beautiful and the water was SO warm. Even had hot outdoor salt water showers. Luxury! A dance/acrobatic group came to perform, which was great, drinks on the beach, then we hit the tents for a sticky night sleep.

We left early the next morning, back to the good side of town to get the ferry to ZANZIBAR! We checked into Safari Lodge in Stone Town then headed out to do whatever we wanted to do….FREEDOM! I think that was half the draw of Zanzibar, being able to do whatever with whoever and having no time limits, no cook group, and no packing up tents at 5am. I went shopping at Gizenga St markets which was fun, buying some scarves to cover my shoulders. I loved Stone Town and wish I had more time there. Through the dark winding alley ways dodging speeding motorbikes and street touts, lined by worn out crumbling buildings, all with absolutely beautiful huge wooden doors. We went to the Night Markets to sample the fresh seafood. Fisherman Johnson was very entertaining and described absolutely everything he had to offer, then went and found a beer for a couple of us from a bar and found us ‘V.I.P seating’ which he dusted off for us….we later noticed we were sitting next to prostitutes haha. The food was amazing and I had a fresh lobster skewer for $2, squid, barracuda, calamari…..so much. It was nice to take our minds off the humidity for a while. Also they have these pizzas but they make them with egg mixed in, they are like a pizza omelette and they are so good!!! It’s worth going to Zanzibar just for that. More drinks on the beach at Livingstone’s.

This brings me to last Saturday (only a week to go).
A big group of us did the Stone Town Spice & Slave tour. It was such a great day and only looking back I realise how much variety was packed in. We stopped at a few sites in Stone town, the Old Fort, House of Wonders and Dr Livinstone’s house from before he set off on his expedition (Livingstone is very highly respected in Zanzibar for his role in the abolishment of the slave trade), we drove by Freddie Mercury’s childhood house (he was born and lived in Stone Town until around 8y/o) and the went into the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa. The cathedral was built on the site of the old slave markets, with the alter built on the spot where the whipping post used to be. Here the slaved were whipped, and their sell price would depend on the amount they cried. We went down into the slave chambers and just 15 of us were cramped and stuffy, but 70 slaves would be left there for 2-3 days without food or water, thinking that any who died were too weak anyway.
Then we stopped at Darajani Markets….fishy, but fun wandering off down the side streets which are so full of character. We drove inland to the spice & fruit plantations and were taken around on the tour showing us which part of the plants the spices came from. The aroma around the place was lovely. Also got to try all of these fruits….have you tried Durian? It is FOUL! Apparently it tastes delicious but even if you don’t sniff when you put it in your mouth, the scent comes through and it is like bad foot mixed with any other bad smell you can think of and was with me for the rest of the day. It still makes me shudder thinking about it. We went to our guides friends’ house for lunch, all sat on the floor in a little concrete room in a little village of half ruined concrete homes. Then drove up the coast to our destination, Nungwi on the North Coast. I met some very interesting characters along the beach, Captain Dolphin and Captain Computer Error were just a few. “Captain Computer?” “No, Captain Computer Error”. A few of us headed a bit further down the coast to Kendwa for the big beach party which was a lot of fun. There were plenty of “Maasai” guys there which was funny seeing them try to pick up and see some girls swoon. The next day was torrential rain, which was a nice excuse to sleep off the cocktails and get a massage. Had the most delicious fresh king prawns on the beach for dinner watching the sunset.

On Monday Jess, Jayne and I got a taxi down to Matemwe on the east coast. The taxi ride was so funny and it was great to be able to have a laugh with the driver and his friend along the way, although they didn’t speak any English and we know just as much Swahili. They dropped us off at some beach bungalows on the beach (my big $16 splurge) which was the easiest bargaining of my life. “$60 for room” “”Can you do for $50?” “Ok Cool, Hakuna Matata”. Matemwe is a fishing village and the walking down the beach there was so much to see. To the left in the water and on the shores women picking and drying seaweed, and to the right men building fishing boats. We sat at the Bob Marley shrine of a bar for a drink and were wondering where everyone was, then noticed it was only 10am. After having our door kicked in for us when the key wouldn’t work by Bob Marleys biggest fan, we arranged to go out on a fishing boat when they finished for the day. We didn’t realise at the time but out room was right next to the fish markets. We sure noticed the next morning. The boat took us out snorkelling at Mnemba Atoll which was beautiful. So many fish, also a sea snake and massive bluey/purple jellyfish. It was worth the scary boat ride over as the water was pretty choppy the boat tipping so much that if our elbows were on the edge the would dip into the water. We were actually at the stage of discussing what to do if we flipped, but “Hakuna Matata”, sometimes I wish they WOULD worry. Something about me and boats in Africa always has me on edge! After some more amazing seafood for lunch and dinner we skipped the stoner bar and had a few quiet drinks in our room.
We watched the sunrise over the beach in the morning which was so pink and after Jess got a slight electrocution from out light switch we got a Dalladalla with the local ladies down to Stone Town. (since we splurged on accommodation we thought we’d save the $8 taxi ride and get this for $1.50). It was worth every cent haha. It was so funny, a dalladalla is like an open sided van, with a lower roof so you have to crouch, and at one stage we counted 27 people squashed in, plus the money man hanging on the back. It was priceless to see peoples’ faces as they got in, see Jayne first and do a double take at the Mzungu, then see me and Jess squished at the back and do another double take, then laugh. Arriving in Stone Town nice and sweaty we got the ferry back to Dar es Salaam.

Waking at 3:15 to pack up tents and leave at 4am was a real wake up call that we were back on the road. And a 15 hour drive day. We drove through Mikumi National Park on the way to Malawi and saw some more wildlife. Yesterday (Thursday) we crossed into Malawi and stopped at Chitimba Beach on the shores of Lake Malawi. What a gorgeous country and the reputation as the nicest people is well deserved. I know I am going to spend a lot of money here on woodwork as the carvings are just beautiful and most things can be personalised. I would come back just to buy more!
Ok so now you know literally everything, minute to minute of my last couple of weeks.

Posted by neerg_08 03:37 Archived in Malawi Tagged town lake safari zanzibar stone tanzania malawi crater es serengeti ngorongoro dar nungwi arusha kendwa salaam matemwe chitimba mayara Comments (0)

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