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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Zanzibar: Spice Tour, Stone Town

We did a spice tour but I don't know the name of the plantation. I went to one when I was in Indonesia so this was again familiar territory.
The guide gave us a young breadfruit to taste but I've never eaten it young and raw so I didn't taste it. It's not usually eaten raw so I am not sure why he was giving us to taste. It's like tasting a raw plantain. Not anything like the cooked version. The pictures below speak for themselves. After the tour we saw a demonstration of climbing a coconut tree. Then it was off to one of the tents to taste some fresh fruit. This was a prelude to the spice counter where vendors were selling several spices in overpriced packages. Yes we are the proverbial tourists who will pay for the overpriced spices just because....
All together we spent over USD $100 in spices.

Young breadfruit 

Bling-bling (sourie)

Black pepper

Bird pepper

Tree scaffolding
Young cloves

Fresh turmeric

Cardamom flower

Cardamom flower
Village house
Candy man Abbi

Village house

Village house
Coconut trunk bench

Mud walls of hut

Fresh nutmeg (with red lacy mace)

 Sunita the STAR (fruit)

Cardamom flower

Villager collecting wood to sell

Young pineapple

Lemon grass
Donna enjoying some coconut water

Flower girls

I think this was an engagement!

We arranged with our taxi driver Ali to drop us off in Stone Town so we could have lunch and then he would pick us up at 2:30pm. I suppose there was no point in going back to the hotel to hope for a fare so he waited for us right where he dropped us off.

Wiring in Stone Town
Then it was back to the hotel for a swim and for Donna and Donna to have some lunch (shopping kept them busy during lunch).

Donna and Donna enjoying some pizza poolside

My big toe providing evidence that I was poolside

Another glorious Zanzibar sunset
We had a little siesta and headed to the sports bar for dinner. Dinner took a long time coming - even longer than the usual 45 minute wait as we were becoming accustomed to. When it finally arrived, the server must have misunderstood what we ordered because there were 7 dinners for the 6 of us and we had actually only ordered 4 to share. I felt terrible but the meals were so huge that 4 was enough for all of us.
Very shortly after the server took the food back to the kitchen, the cook came out and asked if there was a problem. We said there was no problem except that the server misunderstood our order. He apologized profusely and said that the server was new and his English was not so good. Better than my Swahili but not good enough for serving. It was an eventful night to say the least.