Today, Monday, we had ‘real’ jobs to do. We headed first to the Indian Embassy to put in my paperwork for an Indian Visa. I was heading to a conference in India a few weeks after this trip and as the closest place we could find an Indian Embassy in West Africa was Accra. There is a consulate in Dakar but you’d need to mail in your Passport, which I had avoided doing. There had been the additional glitch that in you applied in Dakar, the MRC would facilitate and for this you needed your valid Gambian residency card, which for everyone in the country had expired at the year’s end and it typically takes a few months to get a new one. All this in mind it was much easier to apply for the Visa in Zanzibar as a Canadian citizen. There are quite a few Indians in Tanzania an Zanzibar and Tanzania in fact has three Indian Embassies.
Our next real job was to find our transport to the Northern part of the island. We had wanted to take the equivalent of the Geli geli’s, the public transport system. As a note, in all the places we have visited in Africa the public tranport vehicles have a name that is the same worded repeated. In Gambia, taxis are Seven sevens (noe Eight eights because it costs 8 Dalasi for a fixed distance ride) and the small vans are called Geli gelis. In Ghana the vans are called Trot trots, and in Zanzibar Dalla dallas (which may mean dollar dollar?). I in no way vouch for the spelling of any of those names. Whereas a private taxi from Stonetown to the north of the island might be about 30 or 45 USD per person the Geli geli is about a dollar, and is way more interesting than a taxi. It can take more time but at each stop people are getting on and off, and chatting. If you have the chance you should opt for the public transport over the taxi because it is quite an experience. Do it a few times and it becomes no big deal.
We hit up the Zanzibar Coffee House, which makes really good coffee, smells good, but is mostly filled with travelers. This was one of the first buildings we had been inside and you realize that most of the buildings probably have these interior balconies that face a central open space. You look up and see the light coming down. Really nice buildings on the inside.
Unfortunately the town is getting run down but still has the vestiges of beautiful architecture. It would be a really outstanding little spot if some money could go into refurbishing the major buildings in the down town area. There certainly was charm to some of the side streets and I hope we have captured this in the photos below. You can wander forever in these streets and there is always a shop nearby to pop into or you can simply watch the people, the kids on their way home from madras, the women completely covered in their Burkas or head scarves (a major contrast to mainland Tanzania where it is mostly Christian). We did get caught in a heavy rain storm today (you can see the rain in one of the photos below) so we waited it out in various unusual curio and one beautiful woodworking shop (www.dhowfurniture.com) in the backstreets. We also stopped in at a small designer shop with beautiful African clothes and certainly meant for slim hipped, busty, tall, beautiful women (www.doreenmashika.myshopify.com). Doreen Mashika was born in Zanzibar, which is why her first store was opened there.
For dinner we headed back to the night market and settled on a guy making small 5 inch pizzas. We shared a few, did some more people watching, which included watching the young boys dive off the pier. A lot of people, tourists and locals were watching, and the large group of boys, of whom only a few are actually jumping, cheer and laugh every time one of them makes the jump. I guess it is a bit like you are a local celebrity, lots of attention, and so they keep doing it, night after night. We also shared some fresh squeezed sugar cane juice, which is absolutely amazing. The press in the night market photo the day before shows one of these manual sugar cane presses.