A Travellerspoint blog

Day 17. Zanzibar- Stone Town

sunny 30 °C

Today we put in an order for a custom bag from Fahari. This is a store well worth visiting. Fahari (www.fahari-zanzibar.com) is an NGO and social enterprise that employs all locals who have been trained by the company. All supplies are sourced locally, when possible. We met an Australian volunteer who was running the store while the owner, Julie Lawrence, was away on holiday. She was absolutely lovely. ‘Fahari’ means ‘to have a sense of pride’ in Swahili. To date 54 Zanzibari women have received free training in textile design and manufacturing and Fahari employs a core team of 14 work in the shop full time, receiving a salary and profit sharing with Julie. I highly recommend a visit. I could have bought 5 bags in there, all one of a kind. They are a mix of leather, fabric and some have hand woven dried palm fronds (ukili) included. The buttons and accessories, including jewellery are often made of mother of pearl shells or cow horn found locally. We went into the back to see all of the leathers and to choose colours, which we did with their production manager. I admittedly was a bit overwhelmed but ended up with a bag I absolutely love. Below are two photos taken from their website.
Having had an interesting dining experience the night before we decided today we would try out something a bit more traditional- and by traditional I mean mainly that it was in a restaurant. We took trip advisor’s suggestion and found the Emerson Spice Café. Everything in Stonetown is called Spice something- the Spice tour, the House of Spices (the other highly rated restaurant by trip advisor which was closed), and I kept calling this restaurant by the wrong name. Well, it was delicious (once we eventually found it).
We hummed and hawed about coming back for dinner but considering we’d had a large three o’clock lunch we opted to instead head back to the night market for fresh pizzas.

Posted by Jmclellan 04:21 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Day 16. Zanzibar- Stone Town

sunny 31 °C

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.

Posted by Jmclellan 11:25 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Day 15. Zanzibar- Stone Town

sunny 33 °C

We spent our first day exploring Stonetown. If some cities are built on a grid Stonetown is the opposite. There are a few main roads but these are interspersed with small alleyways only large enough for a moped to squeeze through (and they heavily rely on you to move out of the way). We most certainly got lost a few times but we had no real plans or things we needed to accomplish so that was quite alright.

We largely had the same day time schedule our three days in Stonetown. Wander around, maybe have a few loose goals in mind. One day that was to visit the spice market. There are many advertised Spice Tours but with our experience in Africa we decided we should go and find the market ourselves without a guide. This idea was reinforced by the fact that on every second street corner someone was offering to take you on the Spice Tour. It did take us a while to find said Spice Market because it is in a region where market stalls sprawl for what feels like forever. We had gotten on the wrong side of the main road and so spent about an hour and a half looking in the wrong area of the market. The Spice market, when we eventually found it, was interesting- there were many, many stalls selling spices but they were all packaged. I guess I had thought they would be in large baskets like the rice and beans you see in other places. We saw someone packaging the spices and they were putting pre-sealed plastic packages of spices into an additional bag and adding the same label that every other vendor there had for that spice. It is definitely worth a look, and there is also the meat and fish market just outside of the spice market but you can stroll through, buy a few things, in maybe 30 or 45 minutes. Don did replenish his stocks of vanilla beans and they were much, much less expensive than the beans we’d had friends import for us from America, which had initially been grown in Madagascar. Beside the spices picture are small nuggets which are nutmeg. The outer, softer and more reddish tendrils are removed and used for tea and the whole nutmeg is ground into what is more familiar in North American grocery stores, ground nutmeg.
After the spice market we found about 10 guys in a row, all selling dates. We bought a bag full of hot dates (what a treat) and then some lychee from the vendor behind who was selling them off the back of his truck. The photos of the town below are from this particular intersection, which I would also describe at the ‘bus station’. The truck you see is one of the vehicles used for public transport around the country.
Tonight Don had made a reservation at a little place called Two Tables (because there were literally two tables). He had done so because I mentioned I was wanting to try whatever is local Zanzibarian cuisine. We stopped for drinks are Freddy Murcury’s bar (he was born in Stonetown) and watched part of the sunset. We then popped into a shop Fahari, which we had visited several times trying to decide whether we would each buy a locally made bag). We walked a long way to this little place at the end of a long day of walking and I was so relieved when we arrived. We did walk by several rows of toilets in the courtyard on the way in, seemingly there for storage. At this point I am wondering what kind of place we are eating at. We are greeted at the door and asked to wait for the other guests to arrive. We are left in the entryway, which was a bit like a room where you put all of your knick knacks that you want to keep but don’t know what to do with.
We are led upstairs to a table once four Germans arrived and I realize that we are having dinner at someone’s house. A really neat idea I thought, but then your experience depends a bit on the company. The Germans were quite alright- it was the xx woman who was a piece of work. She arrived late and was a chatterbox, incredibly opinionated (and in my opinion she was saying a lot that was not based on any real fact, only conjecture). She was incredibly confrontational with anyone at the table that spoke much. Her English was quite good- she was an architect of some sort, but wow, did we ever have a lot to fuel discussions after our dinner with her! You definitely meet all kinds of people when you travel! We didn’t really see much of the host. He brought in food and then was gone in a flash. We did see some of the people living in the house around- two little girls dressed in princess dresses (little girls are no different here than at home) and an older woman, perhaps his wife. The food was less exciting than I had anticipated. They, like many African regions, have a diet based largely on carbohydrates. A lot of breads; sweet biscuits, pita type breads, deep fried breads etc. They did serve a nice curry stew and I was absolutely stuffed when we left because they kept bringing out dish after dish. All in all a very interesting experience.

Posted by Jmclellan 07:00 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Day 14. Tanzania- Lake Manyara & Stonetown

sunny 25 °C

Today was our last day of Safari. Mom and Dad were headed to Cairo and Don and I to Zanzibar. We flew together to Dar Es Salaam, or known to those familiar with the region as Dar. We had one final game drive out of the park and encountered a huge Baboon troop and what Emme called a ‘wild’ lion. He is much darker than the lions we had seen the day before an apparently came into the park from the surrounding area and has now taken up a large pride and lives with them inside Lake Manyara Park. We also saw a very dark pigmented giraffe. This is akin to us having blond of brown hair- giraffes can range fairly substantially in colour from a lght yellow with slightly darker spots to the guy in the photo below who has dark brown spots on a light background.
Once we arrived in Dar by plane Don and I hustled to our connecting flight to Stonetown. We said goodbye to Mom and Dad, whose flight to Cairo was leaving the next day. Zanzibar, although part of Tanzania feels like a separate place, and in many respects it is. We had an airport pick up and easily found our way to our hotel (The Kenji Hotel, a small hostel style hotel) in the down town area. It was early evening when we arrived and so spent the rest of the day walking around town. We walked along the water front and watched what I think you could safely call dare devils or thrill seekers- teenagers who were taking running leaps off the edge of the pier into very shallow water. Don caught one of the boys mid-jump in a photo below and notice that there are people standing up in the water he is diving into. Yikes. But, nonetheless incredibly entertaining to watch.
As the day light faded the night food market came to life. Like Gambia people are hassling you to come try their food. Don tried to explain to one of the vendors that by hassling him so much he was dissuading him from buying anything. I think that information may have been lost on the vendor. The night market is a very entertaining spot and worth a visit. It is as you might expect filled with tourists but there are quite a few locals as well. The water front is clearly a big hang out in town and a good place to sit, watch the sunset, and people watch. Many food vendors are selling skewers with different types of seafood and meat. These are very interesting to look at (I’ve got one photo below) but we didn’t try any because we didn’t see any locals buying them (they were fans of the chicken and chips) and it was hard to tell how long they had been sitting there. I would have been more inclined to try them had they been cooking them fresh but they were only reheating. We strolled back to our little hotel and headed to bed.

Posted by Jmclellan 07:55 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Day 13. Tanzania- Lake Manyara

semi-overcast 25 °C

Today we headed out with Emme in search of the infamous lions known to climb trees, the flamingos we had seen the night before in Lake Manyara, and of course the ever infamous leopard (who is infamous everywhere because he is so hard to find). We headed out first to where the other lodge vehicle had spotted the leopard and eventually saw him on a branch in the shade of a tree. Such beautiful animals. He eventually wandered away from the road and out of sight so we continued heading in the direction of the park entrance where the road butted up against the lake to have coffee, check out the hot springs, and the flamingos.
During this season the lake water level was quite low and the flamingos were thus congregated in what shallow water was left, which was unfortunately for us not terribly close to the road. We ventured out into the lake shore banks where the hot springs were making us sweat profusely! Don did get some good photos of the flamingos and they are really funny to watch. They follow each other in a line and walk one direction then abruptly turn around and walk back in the direction they had come. We saw mostly the lesser flamingo, which is smaller and more pink than the greater flamingo, although their coloring is affected by their diet. We also saw pelicans mixed in with the flamingos.
On the nearby shores we saw a family of Ground Hornbills, two Klipspringers, a small antelope, and again the nocturnal Serval cat. This one was a bit less skittish than the one we had seen at Grummeti. The Ground Hornbills breed once every nine years, and in a group there will be only one breeding pair. They spend most of the time on the ground, making them easy prey, at least for humans. You can see why they are an endangered species.
Heading back in the direction of the Lodge we saw a Leopard tortoise on the side of the road. The Leopard Tortoise is one of what Safari goers call ‘the small five’. These are as mentioned the Leopard Tortoise, the Antlion, the Buffalo Weaver, the Rhino Beetle, and the Elephant Shrew. We spent some time at a small bridge watching Elephant, Kudu, and a Warthog come by for a drink. There was also fair sized Monitor Lizard nearby.
Almost back at Camp and we received a call from the other vehicle that they had spotted the tree Lions. This was certainly worth a look so we headed back out. On the way we spotted a hawk raiding another’s bird’s next and you can see him hanging upside down from the nest in the photos below. We continued on and found the lazy lions- it was by now late-morning and high time for the day time nap. They certainly weren’t doing much but it was amazing to see Lions in a tree.
On our way home we were again surrounded by a huge herd of elephants and saw some other animals including zebras and baby warthogs. We found dad at the lodge who had also seen the elephants. They had come right up to the lodge and the concerned staff had dad step away from his table near the rail where we met him for lunch when we arrived home.
In the afternoon Emme took mom and I and the lodge doctor, Caroline, to the local village where Caroline works when she is not busy with Lodge guests. This goes back to an earlier post where I mentioned that &Beyond does quite a bit to give back to the local community. If I’d have known about it in time I would have also gone to see the clinic near Klein’s. The lodge also brings in any generated food waste to feed to the village pigs. We met two lovely nurses who staff the clinic on a regular basis. I was really impressed by this little clinic, which was not only well stocked with supplies including antibiotics but also had quite a few posters advertising what I’ll call more ‘advanced’ health care topics such as the importance of family planning and offering those services. The nurses showed me their log book system, which while simple seemed effective at least in being able to track people over time (you really begin to appreciate the health care system if you live in a developed country where being able to track people over multiple visits isn’t all that complicated because everyone has a health card or ID. In many parts of Africa people have no ID and you find in some areas only a small handful of names are used. Thus, you will have 50 girls in a small community called Fatima and 10 of these will also have the same last name. Complicated). I was told that almost all pregnant women, at least in this area, have a prenatal visit and complicated pregnancies are referred in advance to the larger hospitals. This is a huge step forwards to what was the norm in The Gambia and it is really nice and inspiring to see that a basic, though functional health care system can exist in a rural part of Africa. Below are some photos of the clinic. There are two photos of the 'lab', an examining room, and the resting room. Included are also some photos of the 'top 10 diseases' and a flow chart to follow for labor.
By the time we got back to the Lodge it was time to head out for the evening game drive. We went out onto the Lake shores once again and drove over top of the dried mud to the hippo pools. They were crammed in so tightly I don’t think you could have fit in any more of them. We passed a herd of elephant heading into the forest for the evening.
Since it was our last night with Manyara the staff put together a road side bar in a dugout canoe. &Beyond is really great about putting something special together for you last night at each lodge and it really leaves a great impression. It was, however, so windy that at one point part of the bar blew over, glasses were smashed, everyone was laughing. It was great. We were at a beautiful spot looking out at the flamingos in the distance. We ended the evening with another nice meal outside by the fire.

Posted by Jmclellan 07:42 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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