Old as a stone – Feb 2011

Stone town- Zanzibar

After one hour of nothing but sun and small boats in the monstrous sea that made them look like toys we were in Zanzibar. I have to admit I was impressed by my first ferry experience; it had three floors and it was also cosy and full of tourists sunbathing in the third level. It was my first time to see such a big number of white people.  I had been brought up in a village where the only white people I saw were the nuns in my nursery school which was run by missionaries. I especially remember one that taught us how to dance Macarena so that we perform in the annual parents’ day meeting.

Daring people

Daring people

The temperature here was a bit higher than in Dar es Salaam. We took a taxi and headed to Santa Monica Hostel. This hotel is in the slave market where the slaves were taken for sale from the mainland as Stone Town was easily accessible by sea.  The slave market was closed by Sultan Barghash in 1873. Later, the missionaries bought the site and built a church and Santa Monica Hostel was built for the teachers, nuns and nurses.

Unknown to us, It was high season two days ahead of the annual “Sauti za Busara” (Voices of Wisdom) music festivals which brings together singers from all parts of Africa to perform at Old fort for almost one week. This meant the hotels were expensive, full and those that were not they were booked. We got only two days and on the second third we were supposed to check out. How unlucky!

Sunset in Stone town Beach

We went to check for a place to eat and we found one close to the beach called Mercury named after the singer Freddie Mercury who was actually born in Zanzibar. The place is awesome with the best live band in Zanzibar every Saturday. You dance until dawn.  It is the perfect place to unwind and they serve a good variety of Swahili dishes and Mexican cuisine like burritos. It is one of the best places ideal for drinks while you enjoying the breeze and the live music. There is something about this place that kept us going back and back again.

I could not help but love the place. They have combined Swahili, African and Indian cultures. The old city is full of small streets with children playing and small antique shops. Shopping was an option but when I saw the clothes I could not help myself but shop. Only motorbikes and bicycles can be used in the small streets. Funny enough we got lost and found ourselves in the same place all the time; Zanzibar Coffee House. It was in this coffee house that spent most afternoons enjoying the delicious coffee, smoothies and milkshakes together with delicious muffins, cakes and croissants. The coffee house also has a hotel above the coffee house.

One evening after sunset we went to Forodhani (harbour) Gardens. This place used to be the old harbour of Zanzibar but they changed it into a garden and an open food market. It was full of people serving barbecued sea food straight from the barbecue, Zanzibarian pizzas and drinks.

“Fresh barbecued squid, fish, crabs, shrimps for you sir” one guy at the told us. Why do men always refer to the men and not to the ladies unless it’s something to do with beauty products?

Sea food and more seed food at Forodhani open food market

I paid some attention. After showing us all the food like a food tour guide I asked for a photo. It’s funny when a girl asks a man for something and especially with a smile they never resist.

“Yes, sure”

He went and lifted two pieces of some kind of animals God knows what and smiled for the snap and catcha! I got it.

“Thank you so much”

We took some of this food and a sugarcane juice and sat down next to the beach and started enjoying the food while looking at some crazy boys who were diving into the water.

The Zanzibarian pizzas also turned out to be great and different from the normal pizzas in terms of ingredients and preparation.

After two days we checked for a hotel called “The pearl” which turned out to be a nightmare and we decided enough is enough and the following day we checked for a furnished apartment. After a whole day such under the scorching sun and after moving from one house to the next looking for a house that was open; because most of them are like holes with a small amount of light, we finally got one in old town. I have to say it was really nice and for a house like this in Kenya you would cough out more than $1000 but it they were renting for $450 and no deposit. It was two floors, fully furnished with a kitchen, three bathrooms and three bedrooms and a balcony at the top with an extra bedroom and a chair and some seats. I could not wait to move in and there then we paid and moved in. The guy in-charge of the house is called Abdullah and anyway all the guides close to the Old Fort are always ready to help at a price. This was the place that we would spend one month exploring Zanzibar.

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