You’ll have to bear with us for this post. After ten days on this island we have what we are calling total “beach brain.” We have little ability to think properly anymore, and it’s just too darn hot to try or even care! So it may be more like a bunch of rambling rather than an organized entry of proper writing.
Village Of Nungwi
We made our way to the other side of the island ( both to the northern tip and the eastern side) a must do if you come to Zanzibar. We first stayed in the village at the Northern tip called Nungwi. It is known as the party place of the island. We were here during a slower tourist time so it was fairly quiet. Although we did see some people start up as early as 10:30am with their drinks!
There was a building on the middle of the beach that was made of two giant wooden boats with a bar in the middle of them and seating around it. It blasted out what we would call African techno rap into the wee hours of the morning.
The water and beaches are stunning. White, silky smooth sand and turquoise shades of water are in view for miles. Our place was right along side the beach. It was so relaxing. It was basic but clean. We had a bed, mosquito net and ceiling fan. What more could you need? Of course there was the bonus of a million dollar view. This was all for the whopping price of $35 a night. It is better than the Caribbean, more beautiful, way less tourists, has great food and is a fraction of the price!
Other experiences in the Nungwi area include repeat music, I think they only have a few CD’s here that are burnt and shared throughout the tourist areas. I don’t know how many times we have listened to the same songs. Some popular music is the Backstreet boys, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain, Enrique, and Nsync. We have also heard lots of wonderful local music too.
We had the power go out for 20 hours while in Nungwi, and then had no water as well. It was just like camping.
Experiencing The Range Of Ethnic Food
We were a bit concerned about what there would be to eat here, especially being vegetarian. We have been so impressed with all the food we have eaten. It is very flavourful, well presented and fresh. Just about everywhere has real wood burning brick ovens to cook pizza and other dishes in, it is so tasty.
We have tried some very interesting dishes. Jack had a pizza with cheese, dates, raisins, candied cherries, pineapple and banana. It was really good. We have tried a few kinds of fish such as Talapia, a white fish. We also tried Chunga a larger white fish similar to Tuna. As well we have had fresh grilled Tuna which is no comparison to a can. We have experienced many different Indian dishes like spiced vegetables and rices with many flavourful sauces. Interesting sodas we have had are ginger beer, a few exotic fruit fantas and some unique martinis. If the martinis have any juice in them you watch it get fresh squeezed right in front of you.
We went to a local Turtle conservation place. They have two types of endangered turtles like Greenbacks. We got to put our hands in the water and feel the shells and the limbs and heads of the big ones. We hand feed them seaweed. They had small turtles that were only a few months old. We picked the babies up and were told they liked the back of their neck scratched. The pond had a large fish that we were told has incredible eyesight. The guy would throw a small piece of fish through the air and the fish would see it before it even hit the water. It would dart to it with lightening speed and razor precision!
The days generally consist of getting up and showering, only to get sweaty again within minutes. Breakfast, lounging around, etc. Lunch, more lounging, then we go back to our room to shower again and get ready for dinner. Dinner is a slow event, sunset watching, maybe some conversation with other travelers, etc. Then back to the room again and sometimes shower for a third time!
Then you try to sleep, some nights are better than others depending on how hot the room is. It isn’t uncommon to get up again in the night and have another cold shower! Oh how I crave a facecloth. I have not come across one yet, I guess they just don’t use them here.
A Tidbit Of Strange And Funny Things We Have Witnessed
We have seen many weird items used as motorcycle helmets here, if any are used at all. There seem to be a lot using one about two times too small for their head! It just kind of sits squished on the top of the head. We have seen hard hats used and baseball helmets, I guess they use whatever they can find.
Most people we have seen on a single pedal bike so far (four!) What have we seen being transported on a pedal bike, how about what haven’t we seen. Biggest item so far, a bed mattress, no joking!!!! We have seen vehicles go by where you could hardly see the vehicle it had so much hay piled on it and around it. Of course all the typical bus stories, people hanging off the sides, back, roof, etc.
We were shown how to play a great African game called Bao (pronounced like the bow of a ship) It is a fold out board made of wood. There are sixteen holes on each side, and usually coffee beans used as pieces. Too much to write about how to play, but one game can entertain you for hours. We have seen many men sitting around playing it in the afternoon. There are usually a few bills of money sitting around the game so obviously some betting goes on.
Funny things on info sheets provided at rooms we have stayed in. One place (and they are serious) “We do not hold responsibility if a coconut falls on your head”
We have been eating lunch and were visited in the restaurant by a rooster, and then a hen and her baby chicks. Attached to the back of the restaurant you could see into the owners home, where the chickens later strutted through! Numerous cats, kittens and dogs beg at tables sometimes.
Most money seen changing hands for one event. A taxi ride we got from Stonetown to the other side of the island. (about an hours drive) We got in the minivan with one driver and his sidekick in the passenger seat. We were asked to pay the passenger two thirds of the fare upfront. Then we stopped just down the road, the sidekick got out, gave someone waiting there some of the money, then the new guy got in, the old sidekick left. We then stopped again after a few minutes, this time at the new sidekicks house to get some supposed tourist paper work for taking us, he then gave a small amount of money to the driver with the paperwork. We finally arrived at our destination and payed the rest of the money owed to the driver. Things are so strange here!
We Check Out Another Beach Village Called Paje
We left Nungwi village after three nights and decided to try another village on the east coast of the island called Paje. Guess what, it had more white sand and more beautiful turquoise water! We met a very nice couple here, they are from Johannesburg in South Africa where we are headed to next. They have graciously offered us a night at their home, and to show us some of the interests in the area where they live. It’s very comforting to have someone to show you around when you are traveling in a different place.
On our first night we stayed in a place that ended up having no electricity in the room. We also had to keep a big bucket of water in the bathroom because apparently the water may stop while you are in the middle of a shower. The nightly rate wasn’t all that inexpensive considering this. We decided to look for something different.
We found a very nice resort. It had several sections of buildings. There were rooms on each of the two levels. The rooms were very spacious, nicely decorated and very modern. The bathroom was very nice as well. There is a central restaurant that had internet access as well.
A Moment That Has Most Deeply Affected Us Here So Far
While walking down the beach looking for a new place to stay. We were complaining about the place we were staying in for our first night in Paje. We could see a group of three boys down the beach. One was very low to the ground. As we got closer we saw his little legs were all but useless.
He still manged to keep up with the other boys. He shuffled himself along the ground with his hands to play a game of soccer with them. He was as happy as could be, it was like he was oblivious to the fact his legs didn’t work. There have been many other moments like this on the trip so far, and I am sure many more to come. After all is said and done I hope we can come away from our travels and just try to complain a little less about trivial things that come our way and remember how truly lucky we are.
Stuck In Paje Longer Than Expected Due To An Election
For most countries in Africa the same advice can be followed; it is best not to travel close to election time, during an election or after an election if their is political unrest. We thought we had done a good job of our research of Tanzania and avoiding their election. Apparently Zanzibar is a complex situation, it is sort of governed by mainland Tanzania, but yet still has it’s own separate election.
We found out things have got quite violent here in the past. Twenty six people were killed during the violence of the previous election of the island. It seemed some unrest was occurring again this time around. We were told it would be best to hang out in Paje for a while longer until things settled down. The activity in question was happening on the other side of the island in it’s capital of Stonetown. This is where we needed to get to to leave the island.
We were advised that because we were caucasion we could be a prime target for someone to make an attack on. This would cause immediate international news bringing media attention to the election situation, this is exactly what the protesters would want.
Well, it was nice and peaceful in Paje. We decided not to get too concerned. After all, could we be stuck in a better place? I think not.
Tip For Holes In Mosquito Nets
A great travel tip to mosquito areas. It’s so common for the mosquito net provided in your room to be full of holes. We brought along clips for holding paper work together, but discovered they are great for pinching together the holes in the net. They are the small butterfly clips you get at stationary stores.
Onto The Next Adventure
We will be spending a few more days in Stonetown and have made plans to fly from Zanzibar via Dar el Salaam on the mainland of Tanzania through to Johannesburg in South Africa. There a whole new adventure will begin I’m sure.