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Tanzania - Zanzibar, Stone Town

This was the last week of our Tanzania holiday. You all travelled down the coast, making a stop at a spice farm, and went to Stone Town to explore for a few days. Stone Town is a really interesting place, even if the shop owners are a little pushy.

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Spice Tour to Stone Town

For the second night in room #9 we heard squeaking coming from the canvas walls, and saw some shadows moving along the edges. A rat fell on Shu's mosquito net, beginning a long night of mouse hunting.

Meike shouting at a rat

Meike tried shouting at them; Shu adorned a headlight and armed himself with his Canon; Grég took the gaffa tape to his hole the moment a mouse fell on his bed; and I poked the roof until the biggest rat of all jumped out for a flash photo: proof of our ordeal for reception.

Armed and ready for a rat hunt, and a rat

The whole event lasted from Meike's yell at midnight until 5am when a big something slammed itself into our window and awoke us with a BANG! It was either the biggest rat of all time or some kinda monkey, we thought. We hurried outside to find a bush baby climbing up the roof supports, looking back down at us with its big eyes.

I left for the beach at 5:40am. On the way down to the beach a few people asked "mambo?" (how're you?), but no one seemed to mind my answer being "rats!" I just kept to myself, ignoring the beach boys and photographed the boats at sunrise.

Fishermen heading out, and early morning sailing

I went for a last morning snorkel just off the beach to see a yellow puffer/box fish and an interesting shelled-thingy. Apart from the normal sorts of ocean animals, there was nothing outstanding but the water was warmer than normal - strange for 6am.

I sat at the top of the resort stairs for a while, spotting birds with binoculars. The white birds and black birds seemed to act as rival gangs. One black bird had a white feather in his beak. I think they were winning. When everyone got up at 8am we went for breakfast. This time the iced coffee was pretty nice.

Discussing rat discounts, and carrying luggage the African way

We packed and went to confront reception about the rats. I was very aggressive (but reasonable) and Meike was nice. I jovially paraded my photo in front of as many guests as possible before talking to the manager. He was a well-spoken man who handled our case very professionally - we got one night free via an 85 US$ discount to our food tab!

We hopped on the spice tour bus with the bikini girl (tentative name), who turned out being a German law student from Bavaria who was building a school in Kenya. She told the tale of her room being raided in Kenya by an armed group, where she lost everything but what she could cram into her bra: SD card, passport, credit card. She had a stiff drink, then came to Tanzania.

Ants on a vanilla plant, and our guide showing us nutmeg

The spice tour followed well-paced paths through a jungle filled with sample plants and trees. From green vanilla pods with busy little ants running up and down, we walked past red pineapple plants, smelt the leaves of an Everyspice tree, then chewed some cinnamon in a rainstorm (Shu ate half a tree). Cinnamon tree roots smell like Vicks vaporub. We then painted our faces and Meike's lips with red plant colouring.

Assistant guide cutting fruit, and Shu's woven hat

After the sun shower stopped, we had a fruit break. The guide's assistant cut and presented by everything from the tour, along with lemongrass tea w. honey, and one mixed spices tea. Interesting to learn that an Everyspice tree really exists. We bought some spices (expensive but somewhat like a tip) got hats, ties and frog necklaces, the went to the guide's mum's house (we assume) for a lunch of rice, spiced potatoes, green herb vegetables and dried fish.

Simple tasty lunch, and Stone Town streets

We drove to the Garden Inn (boasting "breakfast on the roof") then wandered into Stone Town. The crap-sellers were less aggressive and persistent than some beach boys, perhaps because there were more camera-carrying mzinga about. We strolled the giftshop-lined streets for hours until evening, then went to the foreshore for the nightly food market bazaar.

Blokes playing Zanzibar Bau, and waterfront food market

It rained and I couldn't find my raincoat, but we endured for Zanzibar pizza and masses of street seafood. People were yelling, trying to make a spectacle to attract tourists, while others pulled tarps over their food. It was a very pushy atmosphere. Shu was loving it. He met Captain Jack Sparrow (who offered pot) and we met Mr. Bean (who's boat went by the same name apparently). We had a whisky disinfection and went to bed.

Stone Town

We woke up early after a rat-free night and had breakfast on the roof. After that we slowly made our way to the markets, where I bought far too many spices and some red bananas. The most impressive part of the markets was without doubt the meat hall. Behind counters on both sides were people slamming their axes into half-dead animals, while on almost all the counters one person was sitting or sleeping next to a skinned cow head. We did a few loops through it for the full experience.

Browsing the spice market, and a dude sleeping on the butchers cutting table

After that we hit the souvenirs shops of the town, fighting off people using the word "welcome" to order us into their shops. We found a cool little workshop where Shu and we both bought a Bao game for a lot less than in the other shops, and had cheap lunch in a local place before we dropped off our purchases at the hotel.

Sitting outside a woodworking shop, and souvenirs made from shells and car tyres

Shu was eager to meet up with Blue-eyes and Freckles so we spent some time having a drink with them. When they had to leave we explored the art gallery in the old fort that had lots of cool stuff, and the artist in there told us a lot about his country. Grég bought a painting of a Masai lady - not cheaper than elsewhere, but we had a nice conversation.

Dude painting precariously from a window, and the old fort artist in his studio

After a packing stop at the hotel, we went back to the food market that was only just starting. Since Shu had to leave, we had some soup that was already available and toured back to the hotel to see him off. We went back or some more Zanzibar pizza and banana chocolate desert that evening before going to sleep.

A seafood stall, some kids jumping into the harbour, Zanzibar soup, and our last group photo

Departing Stone Town

Although all our tummies needed rapid relief during the night, it was another calm night at the Garden Inn. We had some rooftop breakfast with pineapple and ONE banana, then walked towards the supposed fish market.

Walking the streets of Stone Town, and some frangipanis

On he way we met Mr. Dreadlocks - an annoying street souvenirs pusher, who for the 20th time called "hey, maybe tomorrow" after us - to whom Meike replied "Still no! No tomorrow!" to his offer of t-shirts. We also had a few tag-alongs (chatty guys trying to usher you here and there), and in the end didn't find the market.

Panorama over the waterfront, and town

We circled back, perusing the occasional shop. One place tried pushing a newspaper-necklace for 20k TSH, while his friend three doors down offered the same for 7k. We visited the museum which was open and airy but jumbled and a little confused. We had lunch at the local place again for cheap w. a Stony gingerbeer. A dodgey bloke tried ushering us to the restaurant and he talked to the staff - perhaps claiming he brought us there.

A scooter: the sure way to get arrested, and a lady carrying a basket through town

We hunted for some cushion covers for Grég, showered, and took a taxi to the airport. There was a little confusion about paying with mixed currencies, but it all worked out somehow. The duty free shop was selling the same stone turtles also sold at the expensive antique shop for far less money and with far less dust. Zanzibar antiques: highly suspect. 400 US$ padlock: unlikely.

Flying home

To home! (Sad face)