First impressions of Zanzibar

Zanzibar Travel Blog

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The shore of the dolphin hotel.
I was a bit disappointed in the Hotel Mediterraneo because they were lacking in some comforts that I expected. The amount of mosquitos also made it somewhat uncomfortable, and I'm still suffering from multiple welts all over my body from bites and stings and other souvenirs in kind. But then we arrived in Zanzibar and having to choose a low budget hotel since accomodations at the beach run well over $200 and were all sold out this time of year, our party stayed at the Dolphin Resort or something like that. Man what a shithole! The manager was this totally cool Indian guy named Mr. T who would bend over backwards to assist you, but my god that place was a dump! It was on the opposite side of the island where the beaches were, and the opposite end of the island from the airport and city.
One of the coasts in Stonetown.
I was stuck in such a dirty and bug-infested room I almost cried. I ended up staying the night with Stefano while they sprayed my room and let it air out. The next day, I walked in to get something while they were sweeping away the dead bugs and there were literally hundreds of them all over the floor, it was terrible. By the time I returned to the Hotel Mediterraneo, I thought I was in heaven with their clean, cotton sheets (the Dolphin Hotel had linens that were made out of a cross between burlap and plastic), their expansive bathrooms, and their rooms free of the odor of daily bug spray.

This was an unfortunate example of the kind of trouble that you run into in somewhat unregulated countries. Ale and Mahimbo had booked us a nice hotel on the beach, and wouldn't you know it, the person who was responsible for the bookings changed our hotel or someone bought all the rooms for the next 3 years or something similarly ridiculous.
Italian restaurant in Zanzibar
Long story short we had our hotel changed 3 times at the last minute and ended up "in the bush" as Mahimbo said. Basically we were in the middle of nowhere. But Mahimbo and Ale also rented us 3 SUV's to drive around at our leisure and despite not being able to recognize one set of bushes from another and therefore getting terribly lost quite a few times, we managed to eventually find out way to the beach =)

This island is plus interesante. The people are mostly Muslim and if it is even possible, it was even more hot and more humid than it was in Dar Es Salaam. My recovered skin got another ass whooping and the irritations started all over again. Things are very expensive here, from taxis to accomodations, particularly aimed at tourists. The roads are relatively clear, and this is where I experienced the giddy awe of having children from villages run after your car screaming their welcome and excitement at any new face.
Wafaa and Best Man's adorable kids!
It was fabulous and heartbreaking.

Zanzibar is a militarized state so there were a lot of roadblocks set up along the major streets. I'm still not sure what they were looking for, but at one point, we took 2 cars out and both drivers Marco and Fabrice did not have their driver's licenses on them. Mama Mdoe and I ended up taking the wheels. She didn't know how to use an automatic and I didn't know how to drive on the left side of the road, but we both managed nicely and drove the rest of the way to the beaches and back. Marco got so scared when the policeman approached that he started sweating bullets and wouldn't roll down his window to interact with the officer. When the officer motioned at him to lower his window, he yelled out at Fabrice "It was a pleasure to have met you!" which made me crack up! His fears weren't unfounded as they can throw pretty much anyone in jail if you don't know your rights and the correct way of contesting offenses. It was such an interesting journey =)
jenn79 says:
Haha =) The most unfortunate part of the hotel stay is that we did not even choose this hotel! The lack of regulation caused us to have to choose a hotel we did not book, and we were actually switched a 3rd time to this one! =( Do a lot of research before you go and cross your fingers something bizarre doesn't happen.
Posted on: Jun 14, 2007
tirsomaldonado says:
I am visiting Zanzibar, hopefully the hotel is not that one! :)
Posted on: Jun 14, 2007
Chelsea says:
lol, i will remember to avoid dolphin hotel if i ever get to zanzibar
Posted on: Jan 24, 2007
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The shore of the dolphin hotel.
The shore of the dolphin hotel.
One of the coasts in Stonetown.
One of the coasts in Stonetown.
Italian restaurant in Zanzibar
Italian restaurant in Zanzibar
Wafaa and Best Mans adorable kids!
Wafaa and Best Man's adorable kids!
Coast in Zanzibar
Coast in Zanzibar
Cart and Donkey!
Cart and Donkey!
The coast in the other direction =)
The coast in the other direction =)
Zanzibar
photo by: tirsomaldonado