Don't stop me now, I'm havin' such a good time
26.05.2007 - 02.06.2007 26 °C
If pestering tourists was an Olympic sport Tanzania would definitely make the podium, India might pip it at the post but it would be one hell of a contest. After two weeks of people being friendly just because, Dar was a very nasty reality check. It took us the best part of an hour to shake the touts and to work out the best way forward which unfortunately involved going back into the feeding frenzy to accept one of the offers shouted at us as we came through the arrivals gate. Touts are one of the worst things about travelling but at the same time not much would get done without them. After weighing up the options we discovered it would only cost us a few dollars more to fly straight to Zanzibar rather than spending the night in dar and catching a two hour ferry. We allowed ourselves this one last splurge before committing to getting back to the shoestring budget we are bound to. We found a little place just on the edge of Stone town, dumped the bags and got busy getting lost.
After reading the LP in an effort to formulate some sort of plan for exploring the city it became apparent that there isn’t much to “see” in Stone town. There are a few sights, Freddie Mercury’s house (very disappointing – no shrine, no histograph, nothing but a t-shirt shop), a b-grade fort and the sultans house but in spite of these crappy sights the rest of stone town is packed with intriguing Zanzibarian life. Stone town is a maze of tight, high, disorientating alleys where life goes on. Kids go to school, donkeys haul carts of building supplies, vespas speed past and veiled ladies do their best to stay out of photos. One of the highlights was the hustle and bustle of the nightly seafood markets. We didn’t like it quite as much as the Maputo Market but it was still a fun night out.
My Uncle Robert (PNG Uncle not Copa Uncle for those who often get confused) has spent plenty of time in Africa and implored us to get to some live music whilst travelling through Africa. We had tried and failed miserably a few times, particularly in Mozambique where we were subjected to that Portuguese song that has been rehashed for ads and footy stars world wide way too many times, I call it “there’s only one Tony Locket” or the “one tone rodeo” song. I was sure our night out in Stone town would right the wrongs. We had heard about a big gig going on at the fort. It was apparently an Afro / R&B thing and it sounded like the place to be so we gave it a crack. It was supposed to start at 8. We got in had a few beers as the crowd grew then two guys started spinning some hip hop records. Not my scene but it was just the warm up so I wasn’t too perturbed. As the crowd grew we took our seat a safe distance from the stage. By 9 there would have been about 500 people siting in the forts amphitheatre waiting for the fun to begin. There was a group of fun boys going off to the right of the stage, doing their best P-diddy impersonations. I once thought there was nothing worse than white people pretending to be black. I was wrong, black people pretending to be black is way worse. After 2 hours of warm up music we began to wonder “is this it” but just as we began to loose hope the first act came on. The P-diddys went nuts. After 30 minutes we went to bed. Sorry Uncle Robert. We are trying hard but failing miserably.
Note: Funboys to the right of the stage
We also partook in the classic Zanzibar day trip, the spice tour. It was pretty cool to see the huge array of spices and what they look like before they get dried, crushed, filtered and jammed into those little masterfood jars. It was tempting to buy a few kilograms of cloves but common sense took hold and we managed to reduce the spend to a few gift size parcels. Who’s going to be the lucky recipient I wonder?? We had a mega spicy lunch and stopped off at a cave where slaves were held until there was enough to fill a boat. We also stopped off at Mrs Sultans holiday house. She wouldn’t let him sleep with his 99 concubines while she was in the Stone town palace so he built her a holiday house. He’s an ideas man.
Zanzibar’s other drawcard is her beaches. We decided on a small beach town on the north of the island called Kendwa. Most of Zanzibar’s beaches have been conquered by the 5 star set. Fortunately there are still some beachfront villas that don’t cost an arm and a leg and we found one that wouldn’t break our renewed shoestring vows. After a nice lunch and a swim we wandered along the beach until we reached the over water bar of the neighbouring 5 star hotel. It was nearing sunset and the temptation of a beer over the water was too hard to resist until we discovered that a drink of any sort would set us back 10 euros which is about what we paid for our accommodation. We wandered back to the povo end of the beach, which incedently has the same white sand, the same turquoise sea and the same stunning vistas, to our humble beach bar for a $3 cocktail. Luxury is overrated.
Soap Box time! I have two thoughts that don’t really fit in to the blog in a logical flow so I have dedicated this chunk to them.
1) I know Swahili was around thousands of years before the Lion King but I still think Disney must be held responsible for the unbearable overuse of the phrase hakuna matata in Tanzania. I’m sure it wasn’t uttered nearly as much before they popularised it with their touching cartoon musical.
2) At times I can have a shortish fuse. I have very little patience for touts that persist with the “Jambo Jambo meeester” after you have told them you’re not interested in whatever it is they are trying to sell. I have discovered that the quickest way to piss of a tout is to shoosh them, especially with the shoosh action of index finger over shooshing lips. Of course once they get pissed of you have to brace yourself for the hakuna matata that inevitably follows. Damn you Walt.
Our last day on Zanzibar we finally ran into the tail end of the wet season that we had been chasing north. We have had beautiful weather for pretty much all of our time in Africa but we finally got caught in a tropical downpour. In an effort to stick to the shoestring vow, for at least a day or two, we decided to catch the $20 overnight ferry rather than the $35, 2 hour jetcat, for a combined saving of $60. This unfortunately meant we had a long wet day to kill in Stone town before our 9pm ferry. I didn’t mind the slow day. Nat worked herself into a restless frenzy, which I found mildly amusing. We got into Dar in the morning just in time for the heavens to open again. We spent the day wandering the flooding streets of Daresalam, which is nowhere near as exotic as it sounds. After a 8 hour bus trip that should have taken 4 hours we arrived in Moshi. The better part of the next two days was spent finding someone to take u sup Kili. We finally decided on the 7 day Machame route Mauly tours (http://www.mauly-tours.com).
Next blog will be about either our triumphant adventure or the many philosophical and physiological reasons why we didn’t make it. Either way it’s going to be a cracker.
Wait till Biggus hears about this!
Lot’s of love,
Ev and Nat
P.S. For all the doubters out there (I know who you are) Kingos has kindly offered to set up a tote.
Apparently you stand to make a lot of money if we don’t make it to the second camp…..