NYE on the Spice Island

Zanzibar Travel Blog

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Ali T and a cinammon tree
Woke up 5:15am, packed up the stuff inside the tent, had a very speedy breakfast of pineapple, cereal and pineapple cordial, then set off to catch the ferry to Zanzibar, which departed at 7:15am. I slept most of the way on the 2.5hr trip. When we arrived we had to go through customs and immigration, fill out an arrivals card and have our passports stamped. Zanzibar still has a separate government and President than mainland Tanzania. We then took a minivan to our hotel Karibu Inn just off Kenyatta St (US$15pp/night in a dorm). As it was too early to check in we dumped our bags into a mouldy, musty, dark room on the ground floor. Most people cracked the shits at this point and refused to stay there (especially when they found out that tomorrow night everyone left in Stone Town would be either in a triple or dorm room, including the couples!).
Odin's pineapple leaf glasses
Jenni, Tammy, Bon and I didn't give a toss so we chose to stay. We wandered around Stone Town for a bit in the stifling humid heat and had a gelati, then met back at the hotel for a Spice Tour (US$15pp inc. lunch). First stop was lunch, which was pilau (spiced rice) and vegetable stew and a mango juice. It was really yummy. We then drove past Dr Livingstone's house on the way to the Butterfly Spice Farm. Our leader Ali T had the most hilarious South London accent when speaking English (which he had chosen for himself - he'd never actually left Tanzania), and the most hilarious phrases like 'porky pies', 'init', 'me julie' 'wicked' etc...rather like Ali G! We saw peppercorn, cinammon, pineapple (our guide made glasses for Odin out of the leaf), coffee, cassava (Jen had a necklace made for her), lemongrass, cardamon (stops farting and relieves toothache), cloves (numb the tongue), annatto (used for lipstick), vanilla pods, turmeric, nutmeg (gives hallucinations if too much eaten), breadfruit, ginger (potent aphrodisiac 'for comfortable times'), jackfruit (tastes like a cross between banana and pineapple), then finally ylang ylang (perfume).
Jenni's cassava leaf necklace
We then sat down and got to try 3 types of tea: lemongrass, masala and ginger. The first two were so yum! We also had some passionfruit, orange, pineapple and jackfruit. All were the best versions of the fruit I'd ever had - ridiculously juicy! We then had the opportunity to buy some spices from the shop - I bought lemongrass, masala and vanilla tea - unfortunately the masala was confiscated by Australian customs when I came home. We then tried coconut milk and actual coconut from coconuts thrown down from the top of a tree by a guy that climbed it using only a thick length of twine! The tree was at least 20m tall and was swaying in the breeze at the top. After that the women were presented with frog necklaces made from palm leaves, and the men with ties. We all each got a hat too - crowns for the ladies and fez-like hats for the gentlemen! It was great fun.
The crazy dude climbing the 20m palm tree to get us coconuts!
 After the spice tour we drove back to Stone Town and visited the site of the former slave market (TSh3500pp). For 400 years Omani and then Portuguese slave traders kept slaves on the island before they were sold at market then shipped to Oman, Seychelles, Madagascar and the West Indies. Trading started in the 15th century and continued until 1873, before finally being banned once and for all by the Sultan in 1907. Slaves were obtained by being sold by the chiefs of their villages, being kidnapped by force, or by being the loser of two warring tribes. In two damp, musty rooms underground the slaves were kept for two days without food and water to test them until they were sold at market (75 women and children in one room, 50 men in another). Before being sold, they would be whipped repeatedly to test their mettle.
Our palm leaf gifts
They would also be wearing ankle chains the entire time. How awful! A church now stands where the slave market used to be, and the altar is right where the whipping post used to be. Also in the church is Dr Livingstone's cross from where he died - he died from malaria in Africa and asked that his heart be buried there but his body sent back to England - the cross marked the location of where the heart was buried. We then headed back to our hotel and checked into our room, which had 5 single beds, 2 fans, 2 windows, mosquito nets, a desk and chair, a fridge + freezer, and a separate shower and toilet, so it was pretty good. Met up with everyone to go out for NYE dinner at 6:45pm, at Monsoon. I was most disappointed, as it was a set menu, 2 courses of which were seafood (which I don't eat), for TSh40,000.
This room held 50 slaves
Thankfully the non seafood eaters could order off a different set menu for TSh18,000, but I had hoped to order a la carte and was most unimpressed. Also, we didn't even get out of there until after 10:30pm, at which point I thought I was going to pass out from tiredness and heat exhaustion - it was stifling in there. Anyway, we went to the Africa House to have some drinks there and ring in the New Year. It was quite fun. I headed home at 1am.
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Ali T and a cinammon tree
Ali T and a cinammon tree
Odins pineapple leaf glasses
Odin's pineapple leaf glasses
Jennis cassava leaf necklace
Jenni's cassava leaf necklace
The crazy dude climbing the 20m pa…
The crazy dude climbing the 20m p…
Our palm leaf gifts
Our palm leaf gifts
This room held 50 slaves
This room held 50 slaves
Bons annatto lipstick
Bon's annatto lipstick
Memorial to slaves
Memorial to slaves
Zanzibar
photo by: tirsomaldonado