Going back to Madrid

Zanzibar Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 13 › view all entries

Today got quite nasty! Things until now went quite well, but when something goes wrong…. Disaster!

I woke up at 7:30am today, quite late if you consider that I have been getting up at 6am almost every day. I put on my bathing suit and went to the beach to do some jogging! Today I ran for almost 50 minutes! Impressed? Well right now I don´t feel my legs! ;) After my sport session I prepared all my luggage an went for breakfast. Our shuttle did not come to pick us up until 1pm, so I took my camera with me and I started taking my last pictures around the hotel. By the way, in 14 days I have taken 2000 photos.


I had everything ready (that´s what I thought) and went to meet the rest of members of my group.

I was quite sad to leave the hotel behind as my vacation was over L On the way to the airport we picked up other people from other hotels. Once we got to the airport we went straight to the Kenya Airlines counter to check in. After 15 minutes waiting in line I decided to check my luggage one last time. Camera ok, passport ok, labtop? Damn!!!!!! I forgot my labtop in one of the room drawers! Shit! I just started sweating like a pig! I told the group I had to go back to pick up my computer! The hotel was almost 45 minutes away from the airport but I just coud not leave it behind. My whole life was in my smal MacBook.  I started looking for a taxi and someboy approached me and told me to follow him. He looked a taxi driver but some minutes later, when I was already in the car I realise he was just a guy working at the airport driving his own car. Then we started negotiating the rate.


-i agreed of course. Until that day I paid 50US$ for the same route.

Then he asked me again about the name of the hotel. Then he realized the hotel was very far from the hotel and told me he could not take me there and that I had to take another taxi. My flight was leaving at 17:20h and it was 15:00h. Shit! I replied…. How much you want to take me there? He asked me for 50US$ per trip and I ended up arranging 50US$ round trip. But then he said he was calling another guy to take me! Damn! I was so confused and nervous that I just had no idea what was going on. Then we reached a rotary (the only one I had seen in Zanzibar) and there a young guy came over and they swapped! I told him I was in a hurry and that I had to be back at the aiport not later than 4:30pm. Shit! He was driving so fast going through villages, I felt as we were in a rally with so many obstacles on the way! All roads are made of sand and there was no space for three lanes. Well, he was driving in between both lanes! I kept sweating like crazy!...  For some reason I was more concerned about my labtop than by missing the flight…. On the way to the hotel there was 3 police controls, two of them didnt give us problems but the last one got us in trouble. The police stopped us and started talking swahili to the driver.  Something was wrong but I couldn't guess what was going on. Then we started driving again to the hotel. I asked him what  happened and then he told me that if we wanted to go through that police control again without getting a ticket and getting towed we had to give him 10US$... shit! That was totally illegal but it happens to be something very common in Zanzibar. Many police are corrupted!


We finally got to the hotel. I jumped out and went running to the reception.. I asked for my key room but they couldnt give it to me as somebody already checked in. Shit! Then thy called the housekeeper and ask her to check in the room. They found it! What a relief! Well, at least I had my computer!


We left the hotel and I swear I thought I was driving next to “Fernando Alonso (F1)”. Once we got to the security control we stopped and the policeman came to us and ask for the money. I took out a 10US$ bill and handed it to him. He let us go.


We kept driving, so fast it was really scary! It was already 16:25pm and the airport was 10 minutes away. As we were approaching the aiport…. Crash! The engine stopped working… shit! I couldnt think of anything else but paying him his 50US$ and keep running to the aiport. I reached the Kenya Airlines and nobody was there! I started yelling ant then somebody came to me. I told them I had to take the 17:20 flight and then he replied:

“sorry sir, the flight has already left, come back tomorrow and then we will try to find you a new ticket” and they left me there alone again.

I could not believe it! The flight took over before the time! I was in Africa, with only 70US$ (30$ kept for airport taxes) and 40€. I had lost all my connections to get to Madrid!Shit! I jumped over the counter and I went in their office. I offered money to help me but nobody gave me a hand. Then somebody heard all the conversation from out side the office and called me. He was working for a small travel agency at the airport and told me he would help me. He could get me a flight to Dar es Salaam but we had to try to change my ticket from Nairobi-Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam-Amsterdam. He started making calls and talking to people at the airport but the system was down and they couldn´t book any flights for me! The only solution was to stay overnight and fly next day!


No! I was going to miss all my flights and I had to work the same day I arrived to Madrid!. I told him to book me a flight to Dar es Salaam and from there I will try to get into another flight straight to Amsterdam, or making a connection in Nairobi. The ticket was 70€. Shit! I had to keep 30US$ to get out of Zanzibar´s airport and I just had 40 € and 70US$. No credit cards accepted and no ATM machines!


What the heck! Let´s get the ticket and we will see! I will tell customs everthing that happened! Then the guy from the travel agency came with a small blank paper and asked me to write my name and last name… that was my plane ticket! Then I met Melissa, an American girl who had to get to Dar es Salaam too. At least I had an adventure partner. To exit Zanzibar Airport you have to pay 30US$ in taxes but for some reason some guy guided us to the tinest airplane I had ever been to and we didn´t have to pay a dime (lucky because for the ticket I had to pay 40 euros and 40 dollars. In the plane there were only 4 passangers and the pilot. We sat just behind the pilot so we had an excellent view. It was the first time I got into such a small plane. If I was in Europe i would have been more comfortable doing this, but we were in Africa.


The flight was something I will never forget. By the way, I tooks some pictures I am attaching to the story.


Once we got to Dar es Salaam then I asked the first person I saw at the airport where was the KLM office. He offered to take us there paying a 5US$ bill (always tipping). Then he drove us there, as the international airport was 1km from where we landed. Melissa was with me all the time, as she had to follow the same process. At this time, I was still quite tense, as I was not sure if I could use my plane ticket. Then he took us to an information counter and they asked for our passports. The woman in the counter gave us a visitor´s pass to the airport and retained our passports (didn´t like the idea of leaving my passport behind). Then we got to the KLM office and there I found the most resolutive people in the whole trip. They tried different combinations until they found the best way to get to Madrid. There was an extra charge of 100€ but at the time everything was right as long as I could fly to Amsterdam. The plane would leave at 11pm arriving to Amsterdam at 7am. At 7am my plane from Amsterdam to Madrid was leaving so they arranged a booking for the 3pm flight. But they still gave me another option. They told me not to check in my luggage and then once I was in Amsterdam try to get into the waiting list for the 10 o´clock flight.


Well, things were getting better, at least I had a plane ticket to Amsterdam and I had already reserved a seat at the 3pm flight. Even better, I saw the rest of members of my group. There was something wrong in the Zanzibar-Nairobi itinerary and they also came to Dar es Salaam. We had a 3 hour wait at the airport but at least I felt more relaxed. Here is when the next problem arised. As I didn´t check in my luggage I had to pass the security line and go through the scanner. They saw somethig wrong in it, so they stopped me and made me open it. I forgot I had an envelope opener inside, wich of course is considered a knife. They did not found anything! Thanks God as it was a beautiful knife with a handle made of bones.  I wasn’t so lucky when I got to Amsterdam, as the security guys found it. The security guard asked me several questions and told me that if I wanted to take the knife with me I had to get out of the aiport and check in my luggage. But first I had to go a KLM counter and see if I could get into the 10am flight to Madrid.


The good news is that I am in the plane, getting to Madrid. The adventure has finished and now I am realising that my trip is over! Next year…. Mmmmm Argentina, India or New Zealand… I have 10 more months to prepare it!

margmack says:
What an adventure!
Posted on: Oct 09, 2008
IowAdventure says:
When things seem the worst...they usually work out..but not always the way we hope. Thanks for the details and suggestions. I may be asking you some questions later.

Posted on: Jun 10, 2008
jwilsonwsu says:
Dang! What a day! Glad you had a great time!
Posted on: Apr 02, 2008
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photo by: tirsomaldonado