Written by nofootprint on 12 Nov, 2009
Spice TourThis was wonderful tour and a great value at 13.00 per person. We were picked up at 9:00AM and an hour later with the bus crammed to capacity we were on our way. There was no AC and we were thankful for windows!!Our guide…Read More
Spice TourThis was wonderful tour and a great value at 13.00 per person. We were picked up at 9:00AM and an hour later with the bus crammed to capacity we were on our way. There was no AC and we were thankful for windows!!Our guide was excellent and very knowledgable.Some of the spices we saw growing at the Spice Farm wereLemon Grass used for Chai Tea.The Bixi Plant with red fuzzy flours that produces a die used in Tandori Spice.Custard Apple which we later sampled and found it to be delicious.Ginger the wild form as well as cultivatedDorien is a strange fruit that smells bad but tastes a bit like pineapple and banana.Vanilla Vine – I was surprised to learn that vanilla is actually a vine in the Orchid Family. No wonder its expensive , it has to be fermented for 4 days.Coves- these are actually a cash crop that are government controlled and exported.Green Pepper vine – this was another surprise ,green ,red and black pepper are all the same plant at different stages.Casova Plant which has roots that are used for chips as well as making TapiocaCinnamon Tree – it is the bark that gives us the wonderful cinnamon sticks we know well. It can be harvested every two weeks.At the end of our farm tour we have a chance to buy some spices and sample some exotic and wonderful fruit.Mangapwai Beach ( North West of Zanzibar)Before ending our Spice Tour day trip we are taken to the beach . WE walk down steep steps to get to the beach. The water is clear and warm and the beach is actually an old coral shelf. Before heading to the beach we there was aoption to visit some slave caves . We declined ,however. The beach stop was a hour . We didn’t know it was on the tour so didn’t have our swim suits. A typical local lunch was served at the farm . We sat around on a plastic mat and enjoyed a pretty good lunch of spicy rice,curry and flatbread. Close
Written by nofootprint on 11 Nov, 2009
We are ready now for the bustle of Stone Town . The 4 nights on the beach gave us the rest we needed but its time to start exploring. The hour or so drive was interesting and took us across the island to our…Read More
We are ready now for the bustle of Stone Town . The 4 nights on the beach gave us the rest we needed but its time to start exploring. The hour or so drive was interesting and took us across the island to our hotel in the middle of old the old city center. We had to park on the seafront and walk the short distance through the maze of winding streets to our hotel. City TourWe paid $40.00 for two for 2.5 hours. Seems a little expensive for a walking tour and we think a few middlemen were paid in the deal. We paid at the hotel and had no receipt. Our guide,Babou, did a pretty good job though once we got used to his heavy accent.He led us through the old and often dirty maze of streets of Stone Town.We enjoyed seeing the children playing and the locals going about there lives. Some shops were closed due to Ramadan but I managed to find a couple to poke around.We had a chance to take a look at some of the famous carved doors of Zanzibar. Babou explained the meaning of some of the carved symbols .We saw one door with chains carved down the side. This meant the owner of the house was in the slave trade business.Our walk took us past St Joseph’s Church . This was a Catholic Church built in the 1800’s.One of our more interesting stops was at the old slave market . This was a horrifying page in history. We saw two dungeons where as many as 80 men ,women and children were held for 3 days with no food or water awaiting there fate. Shipped from here to points all over the world and if they survived their journey the cruelty continued. There is a sad little monument out front depicting a family chained together.Today the Anglican stands on the site. The rather is worn and dirty marble foor in front of the alter is in red white and black marble ,meant to depict the horrors of slavery. Also there is a wooden cross taken from the tree where Livingston’s body was found. It’s a shame the Anglican Church doesn’t provide more funds to maintain such an historically significant building.We next visited the People’s Food market and believe me its not for the faint of heart. The fish market section is stinky, loud and bloody. When we were there they were dragging a large stingray across the floor. They didn’t welcome pictures here either. The meat market was just as gruesome . I preferred the spice market. It smelled much better.House of MiraclesIt was the first to have lights and running water, hence the name . Today it is a museum. There are some items on display as well as some story boards but for the most part it is a barren structure inside. Outside is a lovely park like area where there is an open food barbecue area after sunset.Our walk took us past Tiker House. He was the infamous slave trader. Today his house stands in tatters and is inhabited by the cities poorest of poor.We were excited to see the house that was the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. He actually lived here until he was 15 years old before eventually moving to England. There is a Mercury’s Bar and Restaurant that was unfortunately closed due to Ramadan.A short walk from here we see the Old Fortress. It really is mostly a ruin and just a walk by. The walls still stand and in the courtyard area are several souvenir shops where venders aggressively harass us to buy.Although we historic is very compact we were pleased to go on the walk with a guide. We only had a few nights here and it gave us a really good overview. Close
Written by nofootprint on 15 Oct, 2009
We flew Precision Air to Zanzibar from Kilimanjaro Airport. Despite our apprehension our plane left on time! We had read some horror stories of lengthy delays and numerous cancellations but we have only good things to say. It was a nice flight with good service.…Read More
We flew Precision Air to Zanzibar from Kilimanjaro Airport. Despite our apprehension our plane left on time! We had read some horror stories of lengthy delays and numerous cancellations but we have only good things to say. It was a nice flight with good service. We were even served drinks and some cashews even though it was an hour or less. We’re not used to that in CanadaOur drive was waiting when our flight arrived and a short hour later we were at the Langi Langi Beach Bungalows in Nungwi Village. We noticed the change in weather much warmer and a welcome change from Arusha. Lots to see on our short road trip. Zanzibar is really another world from mainland Tanzania.Even though Ramadan is in full swing there are merchants everywhere, lots of little rustic stores selling everything from soup to nuts. Lots of poverty though and "no littering" is unheard of here. This is a very Muslim island and traditional dress is the norm.Our hotel is located oceanfront. It is a strictly BYOB, so every evening we tae our wine and sit on the oceanfront patio and enjoy the sunset. The underwater lights along the pier, give us a good view of the fish adding to the magic.Last night we had fresh tuna made with a tomato and eggplant sauce with lots of spice. It was pretty tasty and also inexpensive at $25.00 for two.This morning we thought we’d abandon the pool and take a swim in the beach. The water is a gorgeous turquoise colour that we hadn’t seen since Thailand and as warm. I was first in. I took a short swim and felt some sharp stings on my arms and torso. Turns out it was a jellyfish sting. A waiter from a nearby restaurant saw my distress and gave me some vinegar to apply. It really did work. In actual fact it was not that bad and the sting went away fairly quickly. What disturbed me more was the garbage I saw further down the beach. There are lots of bottles and plastics in the water. Even though it was cleaned up in front of the hotels, tides have a way of moving things about and I really didn’t like the idea of maybe stepping on a broken bottle. As it is Ramadan , the holiest season for Muslims we were surprised that many of the shops and restaurants are open. Prices are less here than in Arusha. 1.5 liters of water is less than a dollar. 500ml of local beer costs about $1.50. That’s at the local liquor store. The liquor store is a small shop that for most of the day is locked ( due to Ramadan) . No fears however, all you have to do is knock and the door is opened. Lots of cold beer and wine and whatever else you would want. Its all crammed into a 10x10 foot room.Bond Street ShopsThere is a narrow and winding lane that leads up from the beach with shops on both sides. Each shop carried many of the same things, wood carvings, beads, cotton wraps and paintings. We really liked the paintings. We watched one artist at work on about 10 paintings at once . First sky then sunsets, etc.They are colorful however and not expensive. We thought they were on canvas but closer examination revealed they are actually on cotton. Some are quite lovely and we ended up buying four animals designs for our grandchildren. They roll well and are easy to carry. I also bought some lovely malagite beads and earrings. Legend says if malagite is worn regularly it will improve mental alertness. Humm not bad for $10.00 On our third evening our hotel manager, Selly, surprises us with a free upgrade to an ocean front room .So this evening we watched the sunset over the ocean from out hotel balcony. We love our new digs. It’s huge and gorgeous room. Just as we were thinking about dinner, one of the staff arrived and invited us to a traditional Swahili dinner compliments of Selly. We had fish with a green peas curry, coconut potatoes and wonderful fluffy flatbread. Dessert was a type of donut with ice cream . Selly-man told us it is tradition that during Ramadan people invite guests from far away to share the evening meal . Tonight we were the chosen lucky ones! Close
Written by nora_yusuf on 21 Jun, 2006
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…Read More
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.
Written by Safiri on 12 Oct, 2004
Zanzibar is the world's main supplier of cloves, a little nail-shaped spice that gets embedded into hams, or stuck into oranges to be hung on Christmas trees. Cloves are grown for export on Zanzibar, but the spice plantations also grow a vast selection of other…Read More
Zanzibar is the world's main supplier of cloves, a little nail-shaped spice that gets embedded into hams, or stuck into oranges to be hung on Christmas trees. Cloves are grown for export on Zanzibar, but the spice plantations also grow a vast selection of other spices -- cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, vanilla, turmeric, and chilies, among others -- for local use, and as a tourist attraction.
Tours of the spice plantations can be arranged almost on every street corner in Stone Town. We booked ours through our hotel (Mbweni Ruins -- see my review) with the agency run by the charming Mohammed Ali the Second. The daytrip for six cost about $10/person. The price included hiring a van, a driver, and Mohammed himself as the main guide; we also ended up hiring a local guide named Juma on the spice plantation (another $10 total).
The tour was a gentle walk through farmed fields and light forest. As we went, we stopped every 10 or 15 yards to examine a new tree or shrub. In each case, Juma would take out a pocket knife and cut a piece of whatever the plant produced: bark from the cinnamon tree, seed pods from clove trees, fresh oranges, etc. At the beginning of the tour we were given cones made out of banana leaves, into which we dropped the fresh spices; the aroma that accumulated as we walked along smelled like something between a candy store and a Victorian fantasy of Christmas -- deliciously sweet, rich, and complex. We kept the banana cones and their contents for as long as we stayed in Zanzibar, and at the end, they still smelled splendid.
The walk through the plantation was pleasant in itself, with its rustling woods, sunny fields of taro plants, and occasional glimpses of birds and butterflies, but the spice tour was also remarkably informative. I'm fond of both cooking and gardening, so I'd known that vanilla comes from the pod of an orchid and that cinnamon sticks are actually rolls of bark, but I hadn't known that nutmeg is actually the central nut of a larger, inedible fruit, nor that fresh mace -- which is a thin, hard membrane around the nutmeg -- was a brilliant hot pink.
We had two official guides, but we were also attended by a flock of little boys who climbed orange trees to cut down oranges (the best I’ve ever eaten) and cut pineapple leaves and palm fronds to make us little souvenirs (banana-leaf jewelry for the women; palm hats and neckties for the men -- very funny-looking when we were all dressed up in a row). One older boy of about 15 climbed up a 100-foot coconut palm to cut us down ripe coconuts; he sang on his way up in a strong, clear voice, and then shimmied back down the tree to cut the coconuts open for us.
I would have expected it to be awkward to be attended by so many people, but it was actually very pleasant. The guides were very well-informed, and Juma in particular, as part of the farming community, was able to give us a real sense of what life on the spice plantation was like. The children were very friendly and eager to practice their English (which some of them spoke embarrassingly well); they were also quite ready to laugh nicely at my bad Swahili. The banana-leaf hats were silly and touristy, but the overall feeling was of having really met some interesting people.
The tour had no moments of shock, nothing spectacular, but it was very pleasant indeed, and something impossible to duplicate elsewhere - and it's the only tour I've ever taken on which I was pleased to end in a shop: a palm-thatched stall selling little packets of fresh local spices. I bought $40 worth of spices -- a huge volume which would have cost at least twice that at home -- to take home as presents for all the cooks in my family (and of course for myself).
Written by Marianne on 28 Feb, 2004
Stone Town was built by Indian and Arab traders in the 18th and 19th centuries. It reminded me very much of an Arab Medina with its warren of alleyways, its minarets, mansions, latticed balconies and beautifully carved doors.The streets are too narrow for cars but…Read More
Stone Town was built by Indian and Arab traders in the 18th and 19th centuries. It reminded me very much of an Arab Medina with its warren of alleyways, its minarets, mansions, latticed balconies and beautifully carved doors.
The streets are too narrow for cars but they are full of pedestrians, bikes and motorbikes. Contrary to what guidebooks made me believe, it was not difficult to find my way. The old city is quite small and compact, and sooner rather than later you will find yourself at the sea front or in Creek Road, the boundary between the old (tourist part) city and the residential area full of grey, concrete apartment buildings.
I was rather disappointed with Stone Town. All guidebooks praise it as one of the best kept secrets in the world. I had high expectations also because it was declared a World Heritage Site. Now that I have been to Stone Town I know that Fez in Morocco, or Aleppo in Syria are far more mysterious and exotic.
True to say there are some beautifully restored old houses. The Emerson’s and Greens Hotel on Hurumzi Street is one of them. It was an old Zanzibari Mansion, a mixture of Arab and Indian influences. The rooms are luxurious, have high ceilings. You will sleep in a traditional Zanzibar four poster called Semandari. The rooftop restaurant is a great place to enjoy the sunset while you eat a multi-course dinner. Room prices start at $150.
All together we stayed in Stone Town for over a week. In the end I was a bit fed up with the eternal ‘Jambo’ hello in Swahili. When we first arrived it sounded friendly but soon we realised that ’Jambo’ was equivalent to ‘spend your money on any of my services’, because stopping and saying ‘jambo’ in return will inevitably land you up in a restaurant, shop or transport.
There are not enough things to see in Stone Town to justify a stay longer than about three days. This is a recognised fact because otherwise why would tourists be shown an alleyway where big spiders have their webs?
Written by Marianne on 01 Feb, 2004
There is a plea to tourists on the notice board: "Please sign the petition for a better surfaced road to Nungwi". And indeed the road is bad. The irony is that there used to be a tarmac road and some vestiges are still there. But…Read More
There is a plea to tourists on the notice board: "Please sign the petition for a better surfaced road to Nungwi". And indeed the road is bad. The irony is that there used to be a tarmac road and some vestiges are still there. But it must have been many years ago that it was in top condition. So what happens with the money the tourists spend? The road is wide enough but the surface is appalling; in fact, it’s non-existing. It’s uneven and severely potholed. Vehicles even at low speed are engulfed in a cloud of dust, which settles on everyone and everything. The villagers have to use it to get to the stand posts to fill their drums with water every day and sometimes twice a day. There is heavy traffic. Big trucks carrying two or three huge water containers, 3000 litres, the water supply for the hotels. It is a daily supply. Each hotel has its own truck bearing proudly the hotel’s name, or not so proudly after all.
And I wonder if this is responsible tourism? I’m not convinced. Tourists have decided to come in great numbers, but the infrastructure can’t cope. At the entrance to Nungwi village, there is a dump, which is clearly full of hotel waste: crushed water bottles, biscuit wrappings, and all sorts of consumer goods. Most tourists don’t see this when they are transported across it in their shuttle buses and only few venture into the village across the dump to buy from the locals. It was no surprise to me that the locals are not very friendly towards the tourists. Most of the staff in the hotels is from Tanzania or even Kenya. The tourist money does not go the Zanzibar economy.
I haven’t investigated what diving does to the coral reefs and marine life. Every day tens of boats, occupied by 10 to 15 divers sail to the diving spots. Most of them care for the environment and don’t touch the corals. But there are many divers, day in and day out. This cannot but affect sea life.
Hopefully, the Italian property owners who are building a 100-room hotel in Kendwa are concerned about the environment and take sufficient precautions. When the hotel is fully booked, the population of Kendwa will have doubled; this is not outweighed by job opportunities, as the locals will not benefit. The bulk of this Italian money will go the first world economies.
So may be it is better to stay in low-key budget accommodation owned by locals. But with more upmarket hotels and tourists who like to be pampered and can’t go without luxury, these small hotels are doomed to fail.
I have travelled a great deal in many developing countries, but I have never seen this type of irresponsible tourism on such a large scale.
Written by greghuntoon on 14 Sep, 2006
Every time I have left the confines of my own culture and stepped into another, I've been greeted by culture shock in the wake of a sickness or injury. When I stayed out on the Hopi Reservation 9 1/2 years ago, it was sickness that…Read More
Every time I have left the confines of my own culture and stepped into another, I've been greeted by culture shock in the wake of a sickness or injury. When I stayed out on the Hopi Reservation 9 1/2 years ago, it was sickness that woke me up to my surroundings. Nine months later, when I arrived in Zanzibar, it was the double-whammy of strep throat and two ear infections only days before falling ill with malaria that gave me a quick taste of homesickness. Five days of hallucinations and pain were enough to show me how stripped I was of all that was comfortable to me. I'd never been that sick in my life, and it happened here where I barely knew the language and had not a single person who I knew for longer than 3 weeks. No Western medicine to be my safety net, and at the time, no spiritual life to lean on with faith. It was probably the single greatest shock of my life after birth (which I'm guessing was kinda jarring).
My shock finally showed up yesterday afternoon on the beach as I twisted my back in a game of soccer with the boys. I didn't think that it was that bad, and so I stretched it out to the best of my ability and headed into the water for a little swim. The swim felt quite nice on the back, and that was the last time I felt comfortable.
So, I'm now officially "just too old to be playing soccer with the boys," says Salwah, the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter in the family. She gives me a hard time about my Swahili each day, and last night I think a part of her was happy that I'd hurt myself because she had new fodder to throw at me. It's funny, and man, is it nice being around people who force you to laugh at yourself. They mean me nothing but goodness with their witty jabs, and even though laughing hurts, it sure is soothing to the soul. They were the same way when I had malaria so many years ago, only then I remember feeling mildly offended that they could laugh while I was laying there dying. Man...
I can be such a dramatic boob sometimes, and while this pain is rather bad, it's just not so bad that my outlook needs to change. It is forcing me to look at a lot of things, hence the culture shock. It's a gift: a mirror. What do I get to learn from this? It seems this experience is planting me firmly in the moment.
Culture shock shows us about imperfection, and how good it is to know that. I am learning about my own imperfections, those of my culture, and, this time, the imperfections about Zanzibar as well. Right now I see how romantically I've held Zanzibar in my memories, and it's so much nicer to see it clearer, with its faults alongside its beauty. I am learning so much on this trip that I never learned before. Perhaps since my Kiswahili is not as good as it once was, I'm getting a chance to ask some things in Kienglish that I never had the chance to before. For example, I am learning about the Qu'ran everyday, a knowledge that provides so much insight into my family, as they live a rather devout Islamic lifestyle. I'm not attempting to lose myself in another language and culture anymore, but rather to see new things in the reflection.
I am always striving to get better, and using the perfect ideal in any situation as the mountain to walk towards. But really, it's where I stand right here and now where the view is best and the clearest. I always think that I can see clearer and farther looking to the future and to the past, but I tell you, it's so much clearer looking and examining the current moment, especially when one is nearsighted like I am. Hindsight may be 20/20, but it views something which continues to grow in distance each second...the here and now is always so and, as such, can always be felt, tasted, seen, and heard. Now can always be experienced without a lens.
Today, I'm in pain, missing home a little bit, and generally just a little off kilter. But you know, I'm right here, feet planted in a place where the sun explodes in the evening and the rains wash the land as day breaks. I can feel the moment more strongly now than I could yesterday before this little mishap, and so for that, I'm now washed of any regret about hurting myself. My feet are going to be up for a couple of days resting, but shit, I need to do some reading and writing anyhow...
Man, is my Kiswahili bad; or, as Marshed told the guy behind the counter at the Bureau de Exchange today, "anaweza kusema Kiswahili kizuri, lakini hawezi kusikiliza chochote," which basically means "he can speak Swahili well, but he can't hear a thing." It is so…Read More
Man, is my Kiswahili bad; or, as Marshed told the guy behind the counter at the Bureau de Exchange today, "anaweza kusema Kiswahili kizuri, lakini hawezi kusikiliza chochote," which basically means "he can speak Swahili well, but he can't hear a thing." It is so true. My family definitely speaks much quicker than the rest of the folks I meet around town, and couple that with a good deal of leftover jet lag and adjustment and you get a guy who says, "Sorry, could you repeat that again more slowly please?" Even still, I think that I have a pretty good ability to make conversation, especially with the beginnings of conversations, the pleasantries, which can take up to a couple of minutes in Swahili, seriously.
"Hello. How are things?"
"Good, and you?"
"Only peaceful. How's it?"
"Cool for sure."
"And your health?"
"Everyone is well, and yours?"
"Ahh, everyone good, but brother is sick."
"Malaria or what?"
"No, not malaria, just a cold."
"Ok. So what are you doing today?"
"Nothing really, but I think we're going to go play soccer later."
And so on and so forth. It's not so different from our own meetings...perhaps it's just that it seems to happen with so many more people. These are the conversations that come up with just about everyone that you know. It's not something that is reserved for your closest friends, as we might be used to in the States. Everyone is related here, and I don't mean that quite as literally as it sounds. There are so many friends, and friends of your siblings, and your parents' friends children, etc. It's pretty cool to see so many people in and out of the house sharing food, conversation, and laughs.
My brothers had me rolling today; we were laughing so hard, I think I did my stomach workout for the day. They are big movie fans, and it's so funny to hear the quotes that make them laugh, not to mention how great it is to hear a Zanzibari imitate Mel Brooks from The History of the World or Brad Pitt's gypsy-speak from Snatch. It's too much. I had to leave at the end of Snatch tonight, 'cause I can't wait too late to walk back to my place at night - it's not really safe apparently. I don't envision anyone taking a chance with me, but I've heard some pretty messed up stories lately, so I returned earlier than I wanted to. Now I'm going to try to sleep with the workers building the apartment complex next door all through the night. It's 1am, and they're still going strong.
Good night neverland...
It worked. I surprised the hell out of my family, and then they returned the favour by smashing all ideas I had of having functional Kiswahili. It was so commonplace to walk back through the doorway, into the central courtyard, up to the front door,…Read More
It worked. I surprised the hell out of my family, and then they returned the favour by smashing all ideas I had of having functional Kiswahili. It was so commonplace to walk back through the doorway, into the central courtyard, up to the front door, and in to great my family for the first time in years. Eight years to be precise.Marshed was a small, intensely bright and hilarious 14-year-old when I left, and he has grown into a tall man with a deep, bellowing voice - he was changed so much I didn't even recognize him. Zahor, the brother closest in age to me is 27. We get along quite well, and I'm quite happy that he is home for break from university. Shinuna looks exactly the same, so much so that I kept looking at her to make sure that she'd aged since I left - hard to tell. And Maryam au (or) Chachi (mom), as she is called by her children, has the same spiritedly spirit watching over her flock. Her children are the world to her, all eleven of them.After about 10 minutes of conversation, we were all clear that it's going to take a couple of weeks before I can sit in the midst and understand all of the words flying to and fro. Fortunately, the family is very well educated and all speak multiple languages in most cases including English. So, when I need clarification or explanation due to depleted conversation skills, I can ask quite easily with little problem.Last night was the fourth night of ZIFF, the Zanzibar International Film Festival, and so we went down to the Old Portuguese fort to check out the shows. Films were playing in the outdoor amphitheatre, and a large stage with a dhow behind was decked out for the music. We saw an American Jazz band called Apex USA, and then a couple of different young Zanzibari groups: the first was a dance group that was pretty good, mixing hip-hop, Brazilian, and East Afrikan styles together quite well; the other, a four-man rap group throwin' rhymes in Kiswahili. This is a celebration which needs to include ankore at some point in the near future (http://www.ankore.com/ for those of you who don't know). All of this under the Southern Hemisphere stars made for an incredible return to Zanzibar.Speaking of the return, I can't wait to get you all photos of me flying co-pilot on the six-seater I decided to take out to the islands yesterday. Francois, the South African pilot, flew us through 17-20 knot winds (I have no idea what that really means beyond being really damn turbulent), and landed us safely at Zanzibar Airport about two hours after I arrived in Dar-es-Salaam yesterday. Kathryn picked me up at the airport with her friend and driver Senga, a large young guy who was quite nice. I'd upload the photos now, but I fried my battery charger, and my phone charger all in one fell swoop - I thought that I had voltage protection on my goodies, but apparently I did not.Today, I'm moving all of my stuff over to the house and will start to nestle in for the next few weeks. I'm helping Kathryn and her NGO on Saturday (NGO being non-governmental organization, and her's specifically being ZAPHA+ which is an organization that works closely with delivering Zanzibaris living with HIV and AIDS anti-retroviral drugs, food, and care). Besides that, I don't really have many plans. I'm supposed to meet up with this cat Mahmoud who works with helping the street kids in Stone Town get off of drugs, and am going to see what I might possibly be able to do to help him out.The pace of life is slowing down, and I am just trying to sit still as I wrestle my way back into my skin. My memories are fading away as I run down the streets of a past which grows more dim the more places and people I encounter from the past. Was I ever even here? I remember the smells, the rain, the heat, the damn Indian pied crows, and the beautiful Zanzibari smile and laugh, but the memories are dissipating and being replaced with the here and now. I'm so glad, because my memories are full of pain and at other times also cast in a very romantic or idyllic light. It was a very difficult time in my life when I was here last, and while some of those memories will probably take awhile to leave, I can already feel some starting to leave and allow room to heal a part of my soul that I believe could only find remedy here.With that, and a hungry stomach about to search out some fish and rice, I leave you all to a great day... Close