Zanzibar has been so beautiful and relaxing. I could stay here for a very long time… if it weren’t for the men here. I have seriously never been hit on in such awkward ways. I think twelve year old Canadian guys have more game – I’ve taken to just pulling the French card and acting like I don’t speak English!
We spent a night and day in Dar before coming into Zanzibar – though it was nice to be back in a city, Dar isn’t the most picturesque. There are several old mosques and temples that were neat to look at, but for the most part, it was quite crowded and a little overwhelming after being in such small places for so long!
We were also a bit worried about being kicked out of our rooms.
After our night in Dar, we took the ferry across to Zanzibar. After travelling on crowded busses and trains, the ferry felt like a dream. There was so much room, they played Hollywood movies, the seats reclined… it was lovely.
And Zanzibar was a sight for sore eyes. However, when we first arrived and went through security, I opened my bag for the customs agent. He took notice of my toiletry kit and asked what was in it. I told him what it was (shampoo, face wash, deodorant) and he replied with, “And is it where you keep your gun?” I had no idea what to say, and the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “I’m Canadian, we don’t carry guns.” After checking my passport and seeing that I was in fact Canadian, he let me through. After that interesting incident, we entered Stone Town and just wandered the streets. I love the alleyways and the doors and all the ways you can get lost here.
That first night we arrived, we went to an outdoor food market, full of seafood, which I have been desperately craving. The seafood and tourists attracts hordes of cats – my mom would be so overwhelmed.
Our first full day in Zanzibar, we took a spice tour to see the spice and fruit farms. It was amazing – twelve US dollars included sampling all these different kinds of fruits, the transport, the guides, and an amazing lunch. And the smells of the spices were just unreal – the cinnamon bark and the cloves smelled like heaven.
After visiting the spice farms, we went out to a beach and relaxed. The water is so blue, and I love how warm the Indian Ocean is.
The following day was spent touring the city, walking through its markets, and visiting a few historic locations (unfortunately, pictures of the High Court were prohibited). The markets were so busy, and there was so much to see – spices, fruits, fish, meat, fabrics, etc.
We also visited the site of the old slave market in Stone Town – it was the last slave market in the world to be closed down, in 1873. An Anglican church was built on top of the market site, and in a slightly gruesome Da Vinci Code-esque twist, the site where the whipping post stood is where the current altar of the church stands.
The church also contains a cross made from a branch of the tree under which David Livingstone’s heart is buried – he asked, upon his death, that his heart be removed from his body and buried in Africa. David Livingstone was quite active in the anti-slavery movement in Africa, so there were a few tributes to him within the church.
Outside the church, there also exists a monument dedicated to the former slaves of Zanzibar.
Besides the Anglican church, Stone Town only has one other church, a Catholic one, as the population is 97% Muslim. This meant my shorts were highly out of place, so to avoid the “I like your short pants” comments that I heard a million times the first night we arrived, I bought a pair of light cotton pants. Who knew I would have to travel to Zanzibar to buy something akin to sweat pants?
We decided to head out to the east coast the next day to escape from the city for a bit. It has been so relaxing – such a great way to spend a few days after some hectic travelling. The island has a few species endemic to it – including the Zanzibar Leopard, of which there exists only between 10-15 – so we went to the Jozani forest to see one of the more common species to the island, the Red Colobus Monkey.
The island is also home to mangrove forests. We happened to get caught in a bit of a rainstorm while visiting them, but it luckily was over quickly!
The east coast also opened a sea turtle sanctuary (sea turtles are common off Prison Island, one of Zanzibar’s smaller islands), and I was actually overwhelmed at how pretty the turtles were. I knew they were cool from Finding Nemo, but they’re actually beautiful animals – their shells were so neat.
The sanctuary also had some tortoises that took a shine to me (or he was trying to eat my shoes, I couldn’t tell you). These guys were only around forty years old, but they were already so big.
That evening, we went down to the beach across the street from our hostel.
Being on the east coast, we didn’t get to see any proper sunsets (and I’ve been way too exhausted to even think about getting up for a sunrise) but it was still beautiful, and the sky was still touched with some pink.
We had an early night, as Julia and I were going on a snorkeling/beach trip the next day. It was amazing. The water didn’t even look real. It might just be because I love Africa so much, but I think the water was more beautiful than anywhere else I’ve seen.
That night, we went out for dinner with some of the other guests at the hostel, and walked along the beach to see the stars. They’re so spectacular here, and I’m slowly picking up on the constellations – I have the Southern Cross and Scorpio down. Today, we’re heading back to Stone Town for a few hours, and then flying to Arusha to go on safari in the Serengeti! I have high hopes for crossing my last Big 5 member off (still don’t have my leopard), and maybe wild dogs (send me wild dog vibes, friends).
Happy belated X-Ring Day to all my fellow Xaverians! And happy December, everyone!