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Zenzational Zanzibar (despite the rainy season)


View The African journey on Ofelia's travel map.

Some places have always had it in their name - Burkina Faso, Patagonia, Easter Island, Zanzibar- that slight exotic tinge that so makes me want to travel there. Zanzibar has always conjured up a fairytale setting of narrow cobblestone streets, ornate, heavy wooden doors with shiny brasshandles, women swathered in colourful scarves, brightening the narrow alleyways like peacocks, fragrant spices I've never smelt before. And for once, it was just as I imagined it.

We arrived to Stonetown late, and immediately decided to stay for a few days. The Polish Mafia was heading up north to the beaches the next day, but not before they introduced us to the foodstalls by the beach- dozens of vendors selling seafood snacks, samosas, kebabs, zanzibari pizza, sugar cane juice and spicy masala tea.

I was possibly most excited about shopping (OK, I was most excited about photography, but shopping was a close second), and after dragging Rich to all the possible shops to look at sandals, bracelets and fabrics, I told him the following day to go and do boys' things, and I'd go shopping on my own. Oddly enough, he decided to lock himself in the hotel room, and not come out while I checked out the local markets. Men, huh?

I really didn't do much in Stonetown- just watched the old-fashioned sailing boats, dhows, coming in from the sea after sunset, eating (lots of really good) ice-cream, drinking cocktails on a plush hotel balcony overlooking the sea, and getting lost in the winding little streets (whilst occasionally stopping to look at a bracelet, of course). It felt wonderful to have some unhurried time, and it almost felt like a holiday.

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We headed up north on a rainy, damp morning, with a vague idea of going to Nungwi where our friends were. We got a ride on a dala-dala, a new thing to me- half-truck, half-bus with an open back and bright plastic seats, full of chickens, children and firewood. Oh, and lots and lots of people. Beata and Anya were waiting for us, and after a big of haggling, we found a little guesthouse that suited my low bank balance, and we settled in.

The next three days were equally lovely and frustrating, the guesthouse being only half-built and therefore not having a reception, or any sort of a contact person anywhere in Nungwi. So we had no one to complain to when we discovered there was no water whatsoever. Teaches me to pay for a hotelroom in advance, I suppose...Despite of being able to only flush the toilet three times, and only washing my hair once under the weakest drip ever (all fours on bathroom floor, nevertheless), Nungwi beach was lovely. Possibly too resorty, but it had fine, white sand, turqoise water, and it didn't even rain very much. I didn't get my usual seafood-related foodpoisoning, which was an added plus. Rich might have malaria, though.

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As we left, the man supposedly looking after the guesthouse magically appeared, demanding money for the 3rd night which we had yet not paid for. I refused; after all, the deal had been that we would not pay unless the water was turned on (which it wasn't). It was, at least, a slightly amusing exchange, one of those where two people are just so far apart in what they're saying that no middle ground can be found. It was established that although it was agreed that we didn't have to pay unless water came on, we still had to pay, although the water wasn't on. Why? Because we had to pay.
We left with our token polish people, without paying, and arrived to a very rainy Stonetown where the haggling started all over again, now over the ferry tickets.

The rainy season has well and truly started. I am currently holding a one-way ticket to Mombasa, purchased this morning with an idea of "I'll get a first direct bus, wherever it might be going to", and watching the non-stop rain beat the empty streets. A sidetrip to Kenya seems appropriate, as anyone who spent their childhood listening to Finnish pop music knows, but I have fond feelings for Tanzania, and I'm sure I'll be back in no time.

Posted by Ofelia 02:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged backpacking

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