Zanzibar Travel Blog› entry 14 of 16 › view all entries
The six of us went to Zanzibar for 'holiday' as they call it. It was amazing!! It was made possible by a cheap train fare - which was cut in half when they gave us a student discount. We were excited until we got to Tanzania - a three day train ride later - and they wouldn't let us through the gate without specific student IDs that we did not have. We eventually got through though, after having missed the last ferry to the island, and the plane that we'd arranged for had taken off. We spent a night in Dar es Salaam, and took the ferry the next day. A group of 8 American Peace Corps volunteers were facing the same issue, and we stuck together that night as we hiked a mile or so w/ all of our rucksacks to find a hotel.
A crew of 9 of us - us 6 and three of the PCVs, Leo, Pat, and Tim (who later became Kaji) - found a cabby to drive us to the east coast and find a hotel - but soon a fight started between the drivers. Kaji, Pat and I broke out in song with "Hakuna Matata" and it quickly died down and turned over to laughter - one guy even tried to join in, though he had no idea what was going on. They speak Swahili, and believe it or not - Hakuna Matata is used in just about every single casual conversation you will have. Along with Rafiki (friend), and then there's "jambo" - hello - which is just so much fun! Needless to say we were singing Lion King songs throughout the trip.
We stayed at Twisted Palm Beach Bungalos - which was gorgeous, inexpensive, and had great food and friendly people.
We swam with the dolphins in the wild one day, which was INCREDIBLE!! I was about a yard away from them at one point, and followed the two as they played until the dove down and out of sight. We went to the forest, mangroves, watched a dozen hilarious monkeys two feet away playing. I made friends with a fishman Babu (Grandpa) Faros who was catching worms after the tide went out one day. We talked and he invited me fishing - and agreed to my 8 friends joining as well, so a couple days later we rented bikes and met him 8k away in Jambiani.
We went into Stone Town a couple of days, which was fun. I made pals with the Italian-only speaking Antonio, owner of Amore Mio - best gelato and spagetti bolognaise on the island and possibly all of Tanzania.
Christmas Eve, Laura and I walked down the beach and came upon Seven Tables Restaurant, and met owner/manager/waitor/chef/bartender Omar - who invited the team over for an all you can eat family style Christmas banquet - for only 10,000 tanzanian shillings, about $8. It was absolutely amazing!! We had octupus, calamari a couple ways, some kind of fish, chips/fries, curry, a wonderful salad, garlic bread, rice, veg, chipati... It was lovely! That night we slept on the beach, which was great fun until getting woken up by Isaya (or Some No in Masai) the Masai warrior, telling us to move back as the tide came in.
Masai warriors are the security on Zanzibar. They walk around with a spear, club and machete, watching over the grounds and no one dares do anything against them. They wear traditional dress, which looks like a red patterned toga, and a lot of shell jewelry and long braided hair (which the older men shave off). One night around the fire, which Isaya would dig in the beach and light each night, a guy translated for us (Isaya didn't speak too much English) as Isaya told us about killing lions and snakes. It was fascinating. Isaya said he'd only killed one lion, though another Masai we met a few times who patrolled next door had killed three.
New Years Eve we hung out at Evergreens next door, after spending most of the day in Stone Town.
The train journey back (thankfully we made the ferry - it was a very close call) had us all 6 in one compartment in second class, as opposed to Laura and I in one and the four guys in the other in first class on the way. This proved smelly, quite claustrophobic, and upsetting at about 7 in the morning the final day when we realized two rucksacks, a backpack, and my toiletry bag had been stolen during the night - from under the bottom bunks as six of us slept in the compartment!! We couldn't believe it, though our lock was broke and the train is amazingly loud - but still. We're down a passport, two study permits, and an Ipod for the big stuff, and two entire wardrobes, but it will be okay.
Other than that spell though - a wonderful Zanzibar holiday!!