After a really cool pilot gave us the goals for the World Cup final during the flight, I landed in Zanzibar, got my visa-on-arrival, and then haggled for a taxi. Funny enough, I had another “that’s the official price” moment that didn’t match the price chart, and I not-surprisingly got the right price after pointing it out.
I arrived at my hotel quite late, and the guy at the desk was SUPER nice. “Just sleep. We will do the paperwork in the morning.”
I was up early, had the free breakfast, and left my suitcase at the desk to explore for the day. I completely messed up when booking my flights, thinking I was arranging for more days but not counting the night aspect of the flights. I’d intended to be there for 2.5 days and now only had a day trip. Not sure what I missed, but I made the most of it.
The beaches were super beautiful, but I made the decision that I should explore and not stop to swim, so I pressed on.
Later in the day, I realized that not stopping in one place was actually a necessity. As soon as I stopped moving, someone would appear out of nowhere trying to sell me a guided tour or drugs–or both. I finally got so sick of these people that I would yell back at them, “NO! I DON’T WANT YOUR DRUGS!” That sends drug dealers running.
Next, I walked by the Mercury House. Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar, but this actually isn’t where he was born. His family lived in a few different buildings, and I tried to find a few of them. Most are not marked, and some no longer exist.
From here, I passed along the sea and the old fort before doubling back.
At this point, I turned into the small alleyways of Stone Town. They’re not used to tourists walking through here alone, and a schoolgirl in a burqa actually gave me a flower and then ran away giggling.
The road I’d been following ended near the tiiiiny natural history museum. It was so small that I didn’t think it was worth paying to go in, so I kept walking.
I stumbled on some really great buildings, some that need a little help standing up, the old sea wall marker, and veered back into Stone Town to try more alleys.
I really liked the small neighborhood mosques.
I was wandering aimlessly, and a downpour started. I followed some people running for shelter and stumbled on the slave trade museum, which I didn’t even know existed. This was a great spot to wait out the rain.
I think there was too much information packed into the signs. Trying to read all of it became exhausting just for the sheer volume of reading required.
After more aimless wandering, I made some intentional turns and got to this building where Freddie Mercury was born and then the post office where he later lived in the apartment above it when his father worked at the post office.
I did some more aimless wandering and then some getting lost without intending to.
I got lost following conflicting directions and bad info on how to find Joshi’s, a REALLY awesome vegetarian restaurant.
Not only is Joshi one of the friendliest dudes on earth, his smile transcends his poor English, and the food is unreal. For about $4.50, I had samosas, fried cassava, sugarcane juice, and this local novelty called Urojo. It has fried cassava balls, some soy meat, a mushroom gravy, fried onion straws, beans, peanuts, boiled potatoes, and coconut chutney. It was incredibly filling, super unique, and delicious as delicious can be. Unreal.
The sun had gone down at this point, and I walked back to my hotel to take the shower they’d promised (their own idea) I could take before heading to the airport for my late flight. The guy who’d checked me in the night before had a brother who’s a taxi driver, so he would pick me up.
Unfortunately, some other guy, not so nice, was now at the desk and told me there was absolutely no way I could take a shower, because that’s asking too much, since I’d already checked out.
After sitting around for 15min, I saw the nice housekeeping lady and asked her what was up. She quickly showed me to where I could use a shower and told me that rude dude doesn’t work there and doesn’t know how things work, he’s just a cousin of someone who needed to attend to a family emergency, and that guy was just holding down the desk for about 30min. My luck.
I had a good shower, headed to the airport, exchanged money (they gave me US $2 bills in my exchange!) and was off to…nowhere.
The Air Kenya flight to Nairobi was canceled, and the next one wasn’t until 3.5 hours later. I’d planned to crash at the lounge in Nairobi for my 5hr layover, but that would now be pointless, since walking the distance to where it is wouldn’t be worth it for my 1.5hrs layover, since I’d have to pass through security and walk super far. Instead, I sat around at the Zanzibar airport as the only non-employee for a long time. All I wanted was to sleep on my red-eye flights.
Finally, we were off.This entry was posted in Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar