Hakuna Matata!

Zanzibar Travel Blog

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Amazing.

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.

  It was amazing!  I had forgotten how wonderful coral sand beaches are... fresh pineapple, passionfruit, papaya, coconut, etc. for breakfast, beautiful snorkeling, fun sand crabs, hot tide pools, great times!

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.

  Long story shorter - it was a long wait cuz the tide was out, the wind was not fishing-conducive, and we only caught one fish per boat - but it was an experience!  The water was amazingly beautiful, and we sat just above it in these trimaron boats (yeah that's right, I can't remember their real name), twice as deep as they were wide, and had a fun time sailing.  It was strange to see the fish we caught - the same ones you see snorkeling, which just felt strange... like you should be taken pictures of them, not catching and eating them...

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.

Isaya, our Masai warrior guard
  He was great fun!  He rambled on to me in Italian and I understood about five words, but he was so excited!  We also had fun bartering and looking at carvings, though I will not be sad to go the rest of my life without seeing another teen selling sunglasses or nuts.

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.

Being delayed from our fishing trip, Kaji and I played with some kids from the village and taught 'em a little English.
  He was still incredibly intimidating at that point, so that was interesting.

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.

Snake killed by Isaya
  We watched about 10 Masai dance and chant, which was pretty hardcore, and then stayed up all night on the beach.  It was a laid back but very satisfying New Years.

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.

... Fred and Kurt - who lost most of their stuff, handled it very well.  Kurt walked off the train with only a pillow and a drum he'd bought left to carry.

Other than that spell though - a wonderful Zanzibar holiday!!

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Amazing.
Amazing.
Isaya, our Masai warrior guard
Isaya, our Masai warrior guard
Being delayed from our fishing tri…
Being delayed from our fishing tr…
Snake killed by Isaya
Snake killed by Isaya
Buying bananas while the train sto…
Buying bananas while the train st…
Adorable.
Adorable.
Pat, Kaji, Leo - All dressed up fo…
Pat, Kaji, Leo - All dressed up f…
Kaji confused because yes, there i…
Kaji confused because yes, there …
TIA: cows crossing the beach.  Mer…
TIA: cows crossing the beach. Me…
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Gorgeous rainbow that went over bo…
Gorgeous rainbow that went over b…
Fish (didnt dare try) and possibl…
Fish (didn't dare try) and possib…
Remnants of greatest chicken ever …
Remnants of greatest chicken ever…
This little girl was standing back…
This little girl was standing bac…
Awaiting Freds giving.
Awaiting Fred's giving.
YAY!
YAY!
Antonio is on the right - my Itali…
Antonio is on the right - my Ital…
The view from Amore Mio
The view from Amore Mio
Me and Laura - post dolphin swimmi…
Me and Laura - post dolphin swimm…
Hilarious Monkeys
Hilarious Monkeys
Climbing amongst the mangroves
Climbing amongst the mangroves
Laura dancing with the funky ladie…
Laura dancing with the funky ladi…
A spacious trip on the public tran…
A spacious trip on the public tra…
Laura, Tim, Rhys - Dolphin Day
Laura, Tim, Rhys - Dolphin Day
Fred, Kurt, I - Dolphin Day
Fred, Kurt, I - Dolphin Day
Pat, Kaji, Leo - Dolphin Day
Pat, Kaji, Leo - Dolphin Day
Biggie and Sayidi
Biggie and Sayidi
Zanzibar
photo by: tirsomaldonado