Monday, June 6, 2005
It's still kind of a trip to be here. How was my weekend? Oh, the usual. You know, Zanzibar, stuff like that.
I wasn't really sure what to expect. My friend Meg was gathering people to go to Zanzibar for the weekend but I ended up being the only taker. It was a good opportunity to get there so soon after my arrival in Tanzania.
My weekend did prove that there are many amazingly beautiful things to see and fun things to do around here. I remember speculating about all that lay ahead of me in the months and weeks before I left. Now that it's all happening, it's interesting to see what is similar and what is way different. Zanzibar was similar but slightly better than I was anticipating. If you watch Casablanca, you have an idea as to how Stonetown is. Narrow stone streets. Arabic feel. Colonial era touch. Etc.
We stayed at the Tembo Hotel right on the water in Stonetown. Nice place with traditional Zanzibarian beds built with mosquito nets in mind. On Saturday we had breakfast at the patio buffet before heading out to Prison Island, a small island off the coast of Zanzibar that apparently never really served as the Tanzanian Alcatraz as it was intended. We went to the beach and negotiated a $25 all day price for the boat, the Sandra, and two guys. They were pretty cool, even better when they realized that Meg spoke Swahili.
The trip out took us about 25 minutes and we hit the island first before snorkeling. There are some tortoises on the island that are huge and old (150 years old or so). After goofing around a bit we headed out to the reef for the snorkeling. We were out for over an hour. SO beautiful. Have to admit that I’ve never done a whole lot of snorkeling.
We caught the boat back and hit the beach for a little bit of reading and chatting before our “sundowner” as Meg calls them. We went to the roof top restaurant (I don’t remember the name) for a couple of Kilimanjaro’s (beer) before dinner. I was able to take a couple of decent photos. The sunset was awesome and we sat amongst the tourists and expats talking some more.
Dinner was very interesting. It was in this Indian family’s house. I think it was called the Two Tables. You are basically sitting at one of the two tables in their house and you are eating whatever the lady decided to fix that night. You walk right through their living room to get to the tables. The family’s sitting around watching TV and just hanging out. Occasionally one of them is beckoned to help out with something. Otherwise, it’s just a normal evening eating dinner in an Indian family’s house while the mom cooks at the dad serves you.
We got up the next day and just sat on the beach talking and reading. It was so nice just to hang and soak it all in. After a couple of hours of this we packed up, grabbed a taxi and headed for the airport. Looking to come back here from time to time given that it's only a 20 min. flight.