Day 10/11/12 – September 28/29/30 – Zanzibar

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.

Poacher police

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!

DSC01191 Serena Hotel Lobby Serena Hotel room

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It seems I have been spelling my name wrong all my life and it took a trip to Zanzibar to work that out!

Mr and Mrs Phip Holland

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.

Door 11 Door 10 DSC01188 DSC01185

Door 8 Door 9 Door 3 Door 4

Ros was immediately taken by the muslim influences and before I knew it she had converted!

Ros turns muslim Ros and Hukah

The old town was fascinating, full of winding alleys and seemingly no traffic regulations! Apparently the local geese were a real problem.

Sign - do not honk

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.

Suicide alley

Boat names were also a source of amusement:

Boat name 3 Boat name 2 Boat name 1

Boat name 4

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!

Freddys apartment 2

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.

Slave dungeon 2 Slave dungeon 1

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.

Christ Church catherdral

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.

House of wonders

The fort was used as a prison and government office amongst other things.

Fort 2

Lots of other beautiful buildings, mostly pretty run down, unfortunately, but a few gems amongst them.

DSC01220 DSC01215 DSC01228

DSC01234 DSC01237

Also a lot of very dilapidated streets and buildings

DSC01219 DSC01218

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.

Lipstick cinnabar

Another one shimmied up a coconut palm

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With every spice we tried we kept a sample in a little cone made of leaves.

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I was made to look a bit of a dick with a range of items made from leaves.

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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!

Dhow Dhow 3 Beach bar Beach music Crab Ros on beachSunset

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!

Hairdo 1   DSC01249

Loved some of the signs as well

DSC01233 DSC01214

We thoroughly enjoyed Zanzibar!

About Philip Holland

Celebrating life in all its forms.
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