First, excuse my english, because its not my native language
My friend works at an airline and as a benefit he can get huge discounts for flights to all kind of places, and a benefit for me, he can bring a friend. It is a bit complicated, but we got the tickets to Zanzibar (Tanzania).
So we planned a lot of details, what would we do there, where would we stay and all the small things, so it would cost as as less as possible, because we will be in Africa for crying out loud and it was a bit scary at first, because it was our first big trip with no involvement of any kind of travel agency.
We decided to go there in November because it was low season, less people, and everything is cheaper. Ok I wont get into details. Time to tell the real stuff now.
So once we arrived to Zanzibar airport, I was a bit shocked because I saw a little house in the middle of the jungle and a weird way there. that was it. Kind of cool, I have never seen anything like that before:) So we got out of a plane, went into the house and stopped by the door by the airport guys to get a visa. while we were standing there, it started raining. And, offcourse the airplane started its engines, and blew all the rain into the people who were standing and waiting in line for a visa. A lot of people were frustrated with this, but I liked it, It’s hot as hell, and raining, and someone putting water on me? Why not!?
After about an hour we got our visas, and headed to the baggage claim. Another adventure:). We walked into a room and we saw a few tables which looked like a u shaped fort. and shortly a truck came next to the room. A few guys were taking out the luggage and dropped it on the desks, or handed them to their owners. When I saw my backpack, I had to shout out “MINE” to get it, but the guy that carried it felt “macho” and asked for a kiss from me to get it back. So I gave him a kiss on the cheek.
The next step was getting a cab. We walked out of the airport, saw a lot of guys offering a cab. There were too many drivers so we chose the one which looked the most reliable, and I think we read some stuff on the internet and that’s how we decided who to pick. We were not disappointed. While we were getting to the car, a local man grabbed my my roommates bag and carried it to the car. and then asked for money. My roommate thought it was just a good gesture, but nothing is free when your skin is of different color there.:) (just heads up – i am not racist or any kind of intolerant).
The drive from the airport to our hotel was about an hour so we took the opportunity and asked the driver a lot of questions about the Island, all I remember was “do not speak to beach boys”. I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to meet new people, and it is an island after all, so where would you meet people other that the beach? But afterwards someone else explained that the beach boys the taxi driver was referring to was the guys who sell “stuff” on the beach. I hope you know what “stuff” means:)
While we were driving from the airport, I was watching the view all the time. It was more than awesome. Beaches, jungle, local people, schools, villages, rain ,sunshine, the nature looked completely different from Europe. Well offcourse, because its Africa! Then I realized that all the places in the world are different. Not only Oak trees, cows and skyscrapers.
By the time we reached the hotel in Jambiani village, It was mid day and it looked like no one was there. I suppose they had siesta or something.
So we fount the reception. The guy was really nice, and repeatedly saying “Welcome”. Sometimes it meant “You’re welcome”. I wish I could be able to express the accent he was saying it with. Its priceless:) Also, he missed a few front teeth. Realy nice guy!
Is so we settled in the room, and decided to take a look around. The receptionist advised that we should not go outside the beach territory, because we could get attacked, unless we were walking in groups or with a local guy. But for the first day the beach territory was enough. The hotel house was on the beach itself, so we did not have to go far to see the water. Beautiful. The feeling is priceless when you are there. I want to go back. And I think I will once I go through all the continents (3 left). The food was perfect. Everytime I go abroad I try to eat as much seafood as I can (we dont have a lot of it in Lithuania). Imagine fresh shrimp, or a squid or anything!! I just love it!!!
Another day we just decided to chill on the beach. I forgot to take my book, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. They had a chill place with books from all around the world. People just left their books for others to read. I I found some pretty cool stuff there. So I hang for a while in my hammack and read.
Then, in the afternoon a local boy showed up offerring to swim with dolphins. So we went for that! And, again, it was absolutely awesome.
We took a boat with a few other tourists and headed for the place where the dolphins usually “hang out”. It was hunting time for them, but we got to see them from a quite close distance. I think i forgot to mention that I went there with my roommate who was so excited when he saw the dolphins that he forgot to put on his snorkeling mask before he went to the water. It was very funny when he tried to breathe underwater without the mask and came out of the water all confused and coughting (I am an evil person so I laughed a lot).
We stayed at the hotel for 2 nights. The second night electricity was cut off in the whole coutry, so I decided to go play pool with the locals in the hotel lounge and got drunk with them. Then stayed up all night talking about how is it like to live there. I remember they talked about education, money, and how hard it is to survive there. They had temporary jobs in hotels and as taxi drivers, they are from Tanzania, not the island, they work 7 days a week and when they get vacation (every 2 years maybe) they go see their families for 2 weeks and then get back. People who worked ant the 2nd hotel were working long hours. I used to see them working when I woke up, and they were still working when we went to sleep late at night. Imagine? 7 days per week, looks like 18 hours of work. People in what I call paradise work this long for pennies so the tourists would be happy. And these people still seem happy. I could not imagine that. Actually I found out that Zanzibar is not a part of Tanzania. It is a sepparate country with its own president. That was quite new, because some of the locals say it belongs to Tanzania, the others say it doesn’t.
Ah, one more thing. while we were talking with the locals, we heard a scream from one of the hotel rooms screaming AAAH AAAAH very loud, and a girl came out screaming for help. We went to help her. She told us something was moving in the trash bin in their room and they think its some sort of a rat or something. So the guys checked and found nothing. But they looked really scared and kept on screaming. Well, they didn’t find anything there, but the screaming was very funny:)
So while I was getting drunk with these local people, one of them said he was my taxi driver from now on and he drove us to another hotel the next morning. He even suggested that we go check out the jungle (Jozani). My now ex-roommate loves monkeys so it was like paradise for him, because zZanzibarhas these monkeys called red colobus. I don’t really like monkeys, but I enjoyed the jungle. Took a lot of pictures with my phone, but still it does not reflect the view and the feeling you get when you are out there..
So we got to the second hotel in Kendwa. We got a room with air conditioning (!!!). The only confusing thing was that you could not buy stuff for cash there. You had to tell them the name of your room. Our room was called “MAFIA”. Its a cool idea to name the rooms not by their numbers:) So when we were about to leave, we did not know how much we owed them, and laughed that if our money would not be enough in the end – we should run:) then i decided that i was not a good runner and leg this idea go:)
So the second hotel was a little different from the first one. It had air conditioning, a safe for your stuff. This was more of a place to party at night and lay at the beach at day, but I decided only to use the night stuff. So the first night we got very drunk because we found out that they had a happy hour from ~5PM. So why not? the next day was hard offcourse, so I slept until the mid day, and then decided to tale a walk along the beach. The view was perfect. Did I mention that Zanzibar is a paradise? No? Well, it is. It has everything I need. White sandy beaches, blue clear water, dolphins, and smiling people.
There were quite alot of people at the beach bar, so I made some friends. Mostly the bartenders, but it was good for me. We played a little game where they gave me fruits and I had to taste and guess what it is. They gave me fruits which I don’t even know exist.. So that was enough for dinner, and then they made cocktails for me from these fruits. I have never tasted anything like that before and after that trip.
Later that night, after my roommate went to sleep, I got ALOOOOT of attention from the bartenders. One of them proposed to me, another one “complimented” me by saying “you’re so white”. And the third one asked me to go “for a walk on the beach” with him. I said “lets go!” (thinking we’d actually go for a walk), but when I went to my room to the bathroom, I forgot that I was supposed to go and went straight to sleep. The poor guy was waiting for me on the porch long after that. He was angry in the morning that I din’t come out:) he said he was calling my name outside. I didn’t hear a thing:)
The next day we went to the Prison island to check out the turtles. You can see their size in the photos I took. Some of them are 250 years old. They survived a lot of human crap I would say.. Good job turtles!
When we were walking around the prison island, we saw a boat full of tourists. It was completely overloaded, we though it would turn over and sink, but it didn’t, so that was good for them:) I don’t remember much of this, but the turtles were cool! One of them was sleeping, so I put my hand where its head would be and stroked his head softly. It slowly pulled its head out of its shell and enjoyed it so cute!
Ok so the third and the last hotel we went to was in Stonetown. The capital. It’s where Freddie Mercury was born. This was more like a town, had interesting architecture, we saw a lot of mosques there, and one church. and the mosque signs were put higher so people would know that there are more muslims there than christians (it’s weird, but ok).
The hotel was a bit further from the actual town area, and we were not very pleased with it when we arrived. If you ever go there, start there, and then travel along the island.
We came a little early there and the staff was not prepared for it so they asked us to wait for 2 hours. so we went to look around.
It looked a bit like after war, I think the tide had just flown back. Not much to say, we just walked around and talked and remembered the places we have been before. So we came back to the hotel, and the room was shortly prepared. When we came into the room, we started laughing hard, because the guys prepared it thinking that it would pleas us, but actually, it didn’t at all. When we entered the smell of toilet freshener “gently” touched our noses and we started sneezing. So, off course we opened all the windows and went for a walk again.
We didn’t stay at the hotel much, because the next day we wanted to check out the town.
I don’t remember if we had a map of Stonetown, but when we got to the actual town, we were going in circles for a few hours until we met a guy from Kendwa just walking down the street and shouting our names. That was cool, he showed us around, even showed us his apartment. He had a coop for chickens in his hall (it was an apartment building).
We went into this church where they used to hold slaves, and saw how cruel people could be. It really does not fit in to my head how people can sell other people, or how they can hold women and children in a 15 square meters dungeon.
The tour guide of this church introduced himself as Morgan Freeman, and actually he looked a little like him too:) not much to say about the church, you can google it if you want, i think its the only church in Stonetown.
I hope you like my story about Zanzibar, I want to go back soo bad that I am going to cry right now in the corner.. Meanwhile check out some photos i took there.
Hakuna Matata a Zanzibar!