Our first stop in Africa was Zanzibar. We landed in Dar es Salaam (the capital of Tanzania) early in the morning, and changed planes without leaving the airport. It was a long day but we were already jet lagged, might as well push through. We settled into our hotel in Stonetown. Everything is within walking distance: a bank, restaurants, coffee, beach and the night market. The island is beautiful.
The night market happens in a beautiful square on the waterfront, that was only completed last year. It even has wheelchair accessible bathrooms and a playground which is full of kids in the evening.
In fact lots of families come down to the night market to eat. Especially after Friday prayers at the nearby mosque. Only food is sold at the night market and there are basically three types of offerings: Zanzibar pizzas (which are more like a folded crepe with various fillings), meat and seafood on a skewer or stalls that sell drinks including freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. We spent a couple of evenings at the night market, once for our full meal and once for desert.
We also spent a whole afternoon trying to get our tickets for our flights to and from Uganda organized. We were going from Zanzibar to Uganda and then returning to Kilimanjero. But we had to make reservations with two different regional airlines in order to do that. You can make the reservations on line, but you have to pay cash for the actual tickets. This was a whole side show that we will tell you about later.
Dave went scuba diving one day and that was the day that Devin and Laverne visited a sewing school and gift shop that not only teaches those skills but promotes harmony between Christians and Muslims. Each class is half and half.
One morning Kasenya and Laverne hired a young man to push Kasenya to a fabulous coffee shop and gift shop near our first hotel. Turned out Rushin is also a tour guide so he also gave us a bit of a tour through the narrow alleys of Stonetown as well as the Central Market.
The highlight of Zanzibar was the Spice Tour. Its kind of a touristy thing to do and we hoped it wouldn’t be to lame. Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island so we didn’t want to miss this. We signed up for a private tour which took us out of Zanzibar Town to a Spice Farm near the research station. There are several spice farms nearby and no doubt much of their income is derived from tourists. But our tour leader was absolutely delightful and very knowledgeable. He would show us a plant and give us some hints. Then we would have to guess what spice it was. The Spice Tour was also nice because it got us out into the countryside and the Spice Farm was kept very much as it would be without the tourists. We followed dirt paths through the farm to see the spices being grown. Several families live on sight. The tour ended with a traditional Zanzibar lunch.
We also toured the ruins of a facility that acted as a refuge for escaped slaves. Although slaves were not taken from Zanzibar, they were shipped through Zanzibar. That same day we took a Dala Dala (a local form of transportation out to visit the slave caves which are rarely visited and quite remote. We had to walk the last km through town and by a beach. This was an awesome way to see some of Zanzibar which is not on the tour.
Next stop Uganda ...