Saturday, June 14, 2008

Zanzibar- an Island of Contrasts July 07

Well i didn't go as long as i thought i would as i couldn't handle all the Wazungus (white people) and the inflated price of everything because of their presence. But it was still fabulous. I ended up going with Abdalla, who is the electrician at the Jeshi and has done a bunch of work for us at the house in Mbande. Maybe you were all right and i will come back with an African Husband. (Don't worry mom i will try to restrain myself) We went to Zanzibar on the slow ferry and saw whales. I think they were false killers.

When we arrived in stone town Abdalla seemed to know every other person, so we got a nice hotel right away for a decent price ($14 each). The hotel had beautiful carved Zanzibar beds and looked out on to the crumbling roof tops of Stone town. That evening one of his buddies took us for a walk and then we went to a sweet club. I am embarrassed to say that this was my first real party night in Tanzania and boy did i need it. We danced all night long outside at this roof top club, that played all sorts of amazing music from Bongo flavour to Hip hop, reggae to taarab. It was truly fantastic.

The next day we went up to the North beachs to a little fishing village called Nungwi. What a strange place it was. One half is a very poor, very muslim village which seems very jaded by the tourists who come strutting through town wearing bikinis and spend loads of money but not on local goods. On the other side are these huge hotels stretching down the beach as far as the eye can see, with Wazungus everywhere as well as Maasai and Rastas trying to make a few bucks of them. The hotel was definitely pricier ($35 US for both of us) but the beautiful beach and decent room made up for it. The water was crystal clear unlike near Dar and you can see everything.

That night we went to a neighbouring town called Kendwa for the big monthly full moon party (the main reason we journeyed into this tourist trap). But it was well worth it. We decided to walk along the beach to get there and it was quite an adventure. First we tried to negotiate our way through all the hotels and ended up in this area where new hotels were being developed. The ground was extremely treaterous as it was on the side of a cliff and consisted of crumbling rocks and weeds overgrowing them so you couldn't tell where the holes were or not. We finally foud a spot to jump down onto the beach and had a lovely walk in the moon light. Of course we ended up walking right past Kendwa thinking it must be farther and had to back track for nearly 20 mins. It was quite an adventure. The party was awesome with all sorts of debachery going on. Crazy white kids doing things they would never do except in a country far, far away. Tanzanians trying to get into the pants and pockets of every other tourist in sight. Oh and there was an amazing acrobatics troupe. At the end of it all we caught a Dhow (boat) back to the hotel which ended up costing $5 each.

The next day as you can imagine after two days of partying we were exhausted and it was not pleasant trying to squish onto a packed truck to return to stone town. The one saviour of the day was the amazing meal we had at one of the hotel restaurants. I ate octopus and Abdala had Tuna, it was so good and despite the fact it seemed expensive it was $8 each for a meal you'd pay $50 for in Canada.

After a good sleep, we spent the day wondering around stone town with one of Abdalla's friends who showed us around. Stone town is truly magnificient. Beautiful stone buildings with intricate doors and windows made of hand carved wood slowly crumbling with the very evident poverty of the people who live in them. Such a contrast between rich and poor, new and old on this island. It is a shame there are some many tourists. But i am super glad i had Abdalla and Sabit so i could go into the less touristy areas and not get lost, as it is a most confusing city.

We returned on the night ferry which left at 9pm and arrived at 6am. It was quite the crazy ride as the full moon caused the ocean to be incredibly rocky. Also unfortunately late that afternoon Abdalla got word tht his brother had died that day. Which made for a very long and sad journey home. Life is like that here though, i don't think i have met a single person who hasn't had a brother and sister die, not that that makes it any less sad.

So now i'm at the jeshi trying to decide what to do, travel some more or go back to Mbande and continue my research. Sijui.

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