Friday, May 15, 2009

The Allure of Zanzibar

This week, between some heavy work and business, we took a short vacation to get off the mainland of Tanzania. We went to Zanzibar, the large island off the coast which is heavily Muslim, a former slave trade center for this part of the world, a former and current spice trade center, home to the famous Zanzibar doors, and a current tourist destination for pristine water, beaches, and much history and culture. We stayed in Stone Town, a city full of stories from past and present, and loved by many.

The journey was a big part of the fun in this trip! It was Sawyer's first plane ride, and what a ride it was! Here we are checking in, formal indeed. Then getting on the bottle rocket, here called an airplane. Our comfy little ride held a total of 8 passengers on the flight out, 12 on the return flight. Here inside the vehicle you see a full house. Notice the gentleman sitting just to the right of the pilot. The co-pilot you ask? No, just the last guy to board the flight and the only seat left available. The pilot did at least ask him to please not touch anything. JJ was quite frightened throughout the flights, really. But when I asked her to give me her best "freaked out" face, this is what I got...

When we arrived on the island of Zanzibar, we stepped off the plane and walked around somewhat aimlessly between other tiny aircraft looking for the terminal. But we were immediately distracted by a large mass of nice vehicles and a multitude of men in red uniforms playing what sounded like marching band music. In front of the band were some arches and a literal red carpet which ran up to some stairs obviously awaiting a plane to reach them. Then outside the airport in our taxi, we passed streets filled with schoolchildren waving Tanzanian and Iranian flags. We were told that someone of importance from Iran was coming for a visit, only minutes behind us. A vice-president or something...

Around Zanzibar and Stone Town we had a great visit, here taking in the weight of some heavy history, seeing a memorial to the former slaves and the rooms in which they were held awaiting auction. Most would go to Arabia, some to the west. We also were able to roam the streets, visit the markets, and tour some old and well-preserved homes, palaces, hotels, and forts. A spice tour and evening on the beach sampling fresh seafood (we had shark, blue marlin, red snapper, and shrimp, all tasty!) rounded out the trip. Here, a local Tanzanian climbs a palm tree to retrieve some coconuts, and mama and baby wear their fruit from the tour.

1 comment:

Ashlee said...

I loved Zanzibar! It's so much fun! I love the cobblestone roads & the old town and the beach. We stayed at a hotel near the town. I can't remember the name of it at the moment but it was nice and we were able to walk to all sorts of OPEN restaurants. I'm glad you all got a little vacation there. I brought back a Zanzibar chest from my trip there. I think it's one of my favorite souvenirs from my 2 years in Africa.

Zanzibar also makes me think of Patrick B b/c he'd sing a song, "Zanzibar, Zanzibar. You can't get there in a car..." I can't remember where the song came from.