Very long day today – saw these anti-poaching rangers head off first thing in the morning, which is encouraging, then left the hotel at 9.30 for a day of travelling – to Lilongwe in Malawi for a refuelling stop and then on to exotic Zanzibar.
We headed straight for our hotel, the Serena Inn, which used to be the Chinese Consulate in times gone by and what a lovely old building, beautifully restored!
It seems I have been spelling my name wrong all my life and it took a trip to Zanzibar to work that out!
A friendly lot, some of the first words we learned were the Swahili word for Hello which is “Jambo”, pronounced “Jumbo” and “Hakunah Matata” which means “No worries”. Like Aussies basically!
The first thing that struck me about Stone Town as we drove to the hotel was the number of very ornate doors – apparently a large ornate door is an important indication of your standing in the community. The spikes on many of them were to deter elephants being used as battering rams.
Ros was immediately taken by the muslim influences and before I knew it she had converted!
The old town was fascinating, full of winding alleys and seemingly no traffic regulations! Apparently the local geese were a real problem.
I was particularly keen to find Suicide Alley which I discovered on Google Maps, just near our hotel, but unfortunately street names seem to be a luxury no-one can afford, but I took a photo of it anyway.
Boat names were also a source of amusement:
Went on a tour of Stone Town in the morning – amongst the first points of interest was the house where Farrokh Bulsara grew up. You may know him as Freddy Mercury, lead singer of Queen!
We then visited the slave market where thousands of African men and women were chained and held in underground cells for up to a couple of weeks, living in their own excrement as their underground cells frequently flooded, before being sold into a lifetime of slavery. I was not aware of the crucial involvement of the explorer David Livingstone in finally forcing the local sultan to stop the practice. The next two photos are of the cells in which over a hundred at a time were forced to live while awaiting their sale.
When the trade was finally closed down, the Anglican church constructed a cathedral on the site, with the altar located right above the tree where the slaves were tied up and whipped, known as the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral.
Our tour continued to the House of Wonders, constructed by the Sultan (originally from Oman) for holding state functions. It was called the House of Wonders, because it was the tallest building in Zanzibar, it was the first to have electricity and the first to have a lift. The Sultan also offered to pay for a clock for the Christ Church Cathedral as long as its steeple was lower than the clock tower on the House of Wonders.
The fort was used as a prison and government office amongst other things.
Lots of other beautiful buildings, mostly pretty run down, unfortunately, but a few gems amongst them.
Also a lot of very dilapidated streets and buildings
We also visited a spice farm about half an hour out of Stone Town, where they grow, curry, cloves, cinnamon, lemongrass, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla, turmeric, ginger and a range of other spices as as well. One of the staff there demonstrated the use of one of the plants as a facial decoration.
Another one shimmied up a coconut palm
With every spice we tried we kept a sample in a little cone made of leaves.
I was made to look a bit of a dick with a range of items made from leaves.
Finally in the evening we went out on a dhow to a small sand island about 30 minutes from Stone Town and watched the sun go down – beautiful!
At lunch that day I spoke to the waitress and asked if I could take a photo of her hairdo – she said it took her two hours a day to organise the braids – amazing!
Loved some of the signs as well
We thoroughly enjoyed Zanzibar!