Zanzibar Stories and Tips


Sunset at the beach Photo, Zanzibar, Tanzania

By the time we arrived in Zanzibar, I had already taken many photos from the plane. The most popular objects were the meandering wadis, and the mountains of Oman. Zanzibar—by the word of Andersch "the last reason to live"—is a famous piece of German literature and a symbol of beauty and hope (according to Anke). The real Zanzibar is stepping out of an airplane into the typical tropical weather. The air is heavy with humidity. For people who are not used to it, seems like you have to overcome a physical obstacle to start walking, something like walking into a wall (exaggerated a bit). Crowds gather in the airport with everybody queuing for their bags at exactly the same spot. Since there is only one table available to place the bags, it was chaos. A fee of $50 for the visa allows US entrance into this symbol of hope and beauty. Paradise is not free anymore.

We successfully shook off at least 20 taxi drivers and found our way to the dalla-dallas. Basically, a dalla-dallas is an unfurnished open-sided van with benches that can seat an unknown number of passengers. At the end I think there were almost 20 of us in the dalla-dallas. It was difficult to breathe. Stone Town is built on a triangular peninsula of land and consists predominantly of Arab architecture, with a blend Indian and European architecture. Stone Town itself, being the capital of Zanzibar, is bound together by an intricate network of narrow streets and lanes. You can even see neighbors chit chatting from one window to another above the busy streets. The town with its narrow passages would have great potential if only restoration was not unknown. Next to the sea we find rows of stalls offering grilled seafood and sugar cane juice. Well, the trip looked like it was soon turning into a gastronomic tour after all… Getting stuffed with grilled seafood and drunk (literally) on sugarcane juice. We headed to the port to see available options for going to Dar es Salaam. We get held up looking at the kangas (two-piece colorful scarves the locals wear) and then hand painting. We went to the local market, ate some mangoes, watched the sunset (it was breathtaking), and ready to go back. Off we go to the Spice tour in a dalla-dallas through the spice plantation. I am reminded a lot of Malaysia, while Anke is impressed by the spice plants. Cloves, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, etc. Do you know the difference between a spice and an herb? Well, herbs are usually the leaves of the plant, while spices are made of other parts like the bark or fruit of the plant. Lunch is in one of the plantation villages, by the local ladies. Local spiced rice… delicious. A vegetarian curry sauce and local spinach…See, I told you we would have a gastronomic experience.

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