BootsnAll Travel Network

Spice Island, Zanzibar.

With my tent in hand, I took a Ferry across the Zanzibar Channel (I don’t know if thats the actual name), to the island of Zanzibar. It was a slightly rough two hour, forty dollar (ouch) ride on a large commuter boat. The views were okay, but I was happy to be on dry land. The first thing that hits you are all the touts. These are the guys who make commissions by taking tourists to hotels, signing them up for tours, or being tour guides. They were also my initiation back onto the main tourist trail. As usual, a few guys fought for my wallet and a slightly older guy won, so he latched on to me. I am pretty used to this kind of stuff now and pretty much immune to the agitation. I told the guy right off that I didn’t need his help. Before, I would stand there and argue, virtually get into a fight before they would lay off. My mentality now is just to play along, but at least being straight forward enough to let them know that I wasn’t going to pay them a dime. So off we went with the guy thinking he scored it big with a Japanese tourist. Soon he would be able to retire, send his kids off to college, and possibly buy that new yacht that he was looking at. He instantly started guiding me to hotels and asking me which one I wanted to stay at. I told him that I didn’t want a hotel that I was just going to wander around as I had just got there. Hmph. So we wandered. He took me to a couple of hotels, but as soon as the receptionist saw the guy, I could see them recalculating the prices. After about an hour of wandering, I told him that I was just going to walk around some more and look for a place to eat. At that point he started getting a bit jumpy. Finally after some more wandering with me just doing the tourist thing, I decided on some tea and Chipatis. I told him that I was going to just hang around the place and wander around until the evening and then find a place. He finally gave up. I went and got some breakfast. When I was finished and left the little restaurant, low and behold, my little buddy was waiting for me just down the street. So we wandered, and wandered. Finally, a hour later he just said that all he was wanting to do was see if I wanted to arrange some tours. I had broken him. I explained to him that my first sentence to him was that I wasn’t going to buy anything from him. In mutual agreement, off he went, back to the docks to wait for the next batch of tourists. God I hate those guys.

Being an island, surrounded by fish pee’d in water, I wasn’t to thrilled to be doing anything. Zanzibar is one of those “must see” places so I had to see it. The old town, Stone Town, was my favorite aspect of the island. It was an old Sultans city who built it like what you would have seen in the Middle East. Buildings were all tall, side by side, with very narrow roads between them. A city of alley ways is best how to describe it. Amongst the buildings were old churches, a fort, and many mosques. The people were much more Indian than African, and the clothing reflected it with most of the population wearing the flowing gowns.

The only thing that really appealed to me in the way of sights was the large varieties of Spices that are grown here. Most were imported here, but a large portion of farming is adapted to these spices. A popular tour is a Spice tour. This entails loading up a bunch of tourists in a mini-van and driving to villages where the people harvest the spices on the governmental lands. We stopped in many fields and got to see where all these spices that we use in our kitchens actually come from. There was pepper, cloves, cocoa, and many more but I can’t remember them because I wasn’t paying attention because the local kids were distracting me. Fun over knowledge any time. The tour also was dedicated to the many types of fruit that was grown there as well. Most of the fruits were indigenous to the Virgin Islands, so now too much different there. Still, when they took us to the sampling place where they had a table with all the different fruit to try, it was pretty damn good.

Next on the agenda was the “must see” beaches of Nungwi on the north coast. A two hour drive and we were there. Of course the touts were there and I actually was about to go back to Stone Town because of them, but a kid working in a shop helped me out and called his friend who had just opened up a new resort. He got me a good deal for $10US versus the inflated $25-30US the beach resorts wanted. I ended up staying for two nights, but it was miserable. The beach was nice, white sands, torqouise waters, but besides the beach there was nothing. I was pretty happy to go back to the city.

A few more days in Stone town checking out the sights and eating seafood every night on the sea wall rounded out my stay.

Another expensive ride back to Dar, and I was on my way.

Back in Dar the heat was still there so it was one night and out. Off to Arusha, home of Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti.

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