Travel Journal

Zanzibar this is for Stephen

(Tuesday 25 January 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 157-9 1/7-9/11
Actually the first class section was comfortable and the sea wasn’t too rough or the boat wasn’t that fast. In either case, we made it to Zanzibar without losing weight. The port was a bit busy and we slid past immigration without showing our passports. Even though Zanzibar is part of Tarzana, you are still suppose to go through immigration even for domestic voyages.
We decided to try and get a room near the ferry dock rather than in Stone Town so we checked a few before settling in at Funguni Palace which was a good place run by a really nice man. We signed up for a spice tour the next day and replenished our meager cash at a nearby ATM and Julie did laundry. Very exciting! We talked to a local Chinese restaurant owner but the food didn’t look very appealing there so just had cheap sodas. Across the street we fared much better at the Falling Show which had good, reasonably priced food.
The next day we left for the spice tour. Our guide’s English wasn’t that good and we strained to understand him. Fortunately we were familiar with most of the spices and could fill in the gaps in our communication. It was very interesting seeing the plants that the spice came from. I didn’t know that vanilla beans and pepper where actually from a vine. I got to try Jack-fruit for the first time, although Julie had it often in the Philippines, and really liked the taste. I don’t think I’ll plant a Jack-fruit tree though as they are rather large.
The tour was for six hours but only the first couple dealt with spices. After a salty lunch, we visited a hamman made for the sultan’s wife. Not sure I mentioned the Arab influence here on the island. It was controlled until the 1960s by Oman I believe before it got its independence and joined to form Tanzania with the mainland whose name escapes me which had gotten its independence from England who was administrating it after Germany was relieved of it colonization of the land after WWI. Anyways, after that we took a quick look at the slave cave that was secretly used after slavery was supposed abolished in the 1880s (don’t hold me to that date) by the Arabs. The cave is next to the beach which we spent an hour or so at before returning to the hotel.
Speaking of Zanzibar’s independence, their independence day is Jan 12th but after asking around town, there does not seem to be anything special going on and the Dhows boat race that is normally held in January apparently is happening next month. The Dhows are an odd looking sailboat used by the locals and there must be some advantage to using this type of craft but the reason escapes me.
That night we went to the Forodhani Garden, which is where the local congregate around dusk and buy street food and chat watching the ocean and sunset. Julie supervised the making of our cane sugar drinks and we snacked on several local foods. The food was good and there were no ill effects afterwards.
We changed hotels to another that offered free Wi-Fi. I felt bad because the owner of the first was such a nice guy but this blog must be posted! I was finally able to update through Kenya at least. The new place was more expensive but was clean and had an excellent breakfast with homemade chocolate cake of which I had five pieces! We spent the day exploring Stone Town and stopped in to visit the Anglican cathedral which was interesting and the slave quarter that survives below an adjoining building. There is also an excellent monument on the ground erected to depict the horrors of slavery. We also got a chance in our wanderings to view some of the famous Zanzibar doors. They are made of heavy wood and often outlast the buildings.
Julie rested while I visited the old fort which the Portuguese built during their brief tenure on the island. Not much too it now other than shops selling art work and trinkets. Next I visited Beit el-Sabel which is a Sultan palace converted to a museum which gives a history of the island.
The next morning we boarded the ferry back to Dar so we could collect our airline tickets to Madagascar and arrange bus tickets to Zambia. I had sent an email to the travel agent to inquire about the standby which we were still on and that we would be there on the twelfth to pick them up.

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