Friday, October 25, 2013

Zanzibar: Stone Town (prepare for the gross factor)

Based on my Harlequin novels from 4-5 decades ago, I was intrigued about my Stone Town visit. I had done some research previously so I knew that there were some more popular markets in the town area. We started out at the Darajani market with our guide and it didn't disappoint.
If you are squeamish about raw meat or fish or you are particularly fussy about your health e.g. refrigeration, storage, flies, etc. then you should skip over the first part of this post. We had a walk through different parts and came upon the spice section where every spice we saw yesterday was being sold here - at about one third of the price! We didn't buy any but considered returning tomorrow morning before we leave for the airport to purchase some.

Darajani Market

(Unrefrigerated) fish stand in Darajani market

Fresh (unrefrigerated) sardines
Fresh fish

Meat section of market

Fresh bull horns

Vegetable section of market

Market baskets

Then it was off to tour parts of the town including a primary school ...

Primary school
... and the former slave market. Historically, Zanzibar was one of the main places in Africa for supplying slaves to the Middle East. I went down into the holding area which was partially below ground and the space was so small and the "windows" so narrow , that I felt completely claustrophobic and had to leave.

Anglican cathedral

Slave chamber below ground

Very small window in slave chamber

Very small window from the outside (more like an air vent)
Reminiscent of how slaves were shackled
Old car

Then we walked around many of the narrow streets (alleys) seeing how the locals live and trying to imagine what it must have been like to live here hundreds of years ago.

Symbols of Islamic and Christian religious harmony

Former meeting area
Zanzibari street

Apartment in Stone Town

Everyday life in Stone Town

Food vendor

Opulence of shisha room in the Africa House Hotel

Drying laundry in Stone Town

Scaffolding at the House of Wonders
Life looks hard in Stone Town but it looked less hard than some of the places we saw in Tanzania. Certainly, it was evident that life in Zanzibar was incrementally better than the mainland. I was told by the guide that Zanzibar is semi-autonomous from Tanzania and only really share an international presence. Otherwise, domestically, they have their own government.
Zanzibar looks different (less romantic) from what I had imagined it to be from my Harlequin romance days of more than 40 years ago. Nevertheless, it has a certain charm that I found quite pleasing. Tomorrow completes our Tanzania/Zanzibar adventure but for today, I will enjoy the experience.

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