Mambo Jambo- greetings from Old Stone Town in Zanzibar (Tanzania)
We are back to Old Stone Town after having two days in Nungwi, a beach resort on the coast. The turquoise sea was warm and the white sands stunning. It was a great break from travelling and packing down tents. We had a super king bed which was luxury.
I went for a parasail with Kelly, dangling from the back of a boat on a rope 200 metres long. What an amazing view of the island. Ian went for a snorkel to a small atol, but he will share his experience shortly. We arrived in rain after a very interesting trip to a spice farm. We got to sample many different spices and see how they are grown. We were given a variety of fresh fruits to try, some more delicious than others, and they made us hats, necklaces, rings and bags from flax. We all looked very grand in our finery.
Rubbish lines the roads and fills the rivers and gutters. Everything is either in disrepair or abandoned. Motorbikes, push bikes, cars and Donkey or Ox drawn carts all vie for space on the pot holed roads. Horns are honked to get people and animals to move aside. Sitting in the front of the bus was a life changing (actually underwear changing) experience. Ian noted he would not be able to save me should I be propelled through the front window. Safety belts are for girls (if there were any)!
Had a walking tour of Stone town today. It was very interesting. We went into an underground cavern where they kept the slaves and visited the slave market. All very gruesome and cruel. Had a wander through the fish market. You can imagine what the smell was like in the heat and with hundreds of bodies milling around - not to mention a variety of dead fish, octopus, squid, shell fish and of course flies.
We spotted a car washing business. They reverse the cars down to the river (a patch where there is no rubbish) and proceed to wash them. Very enterprising.
Tonight some of our group leave for another part of their trip and a few newbies have joined us at Zanzibar. Tomorrow we leave the island and do our first leg of the trip to the Serengeti. I am guessing access to internet may not be available, so family don't panic if you don't hear from us.
Hmmm, USD25 for 6 1/2 hour snorkelling trip, lunch included. This is me, Thirteen of us meet to go. No introductions from the crew, just a few grunts and a command 'come.' We clamber on board a 9 metre dhow that I swear was over a 100 years old. The yamaha motor complete with it's own T shirt (no idea why), took a number of pulls to finally start. No briefing and away we go.
Few lame jokes about the boat but it was only to be a 45 minute trip to the atoll. After 15 minutes we are out past the reef with no atoll in sight. The skipper at this stage has gone on top of the open cabin roof and has nodded off. Becky comes to sit next to me near the front, as the smell of the spilt petrol fumes was overwhelming. She politely informs me that she could hurl at any time. At this stage, we are in a moderate swell that eventually builds to 2-3 metres. I keep glancing at a young canadian guys watch and work out that we will be at the atoll in 20 minutes. We are now side on to the swell and waves are smashing against the side of the boat.
Because the boat is 100 years old and made by the locals out of local trees, water seeps through the sides with every swell that hits. The waves are now crashing over and we are all wet. Fortunately, it is sunny, hot and the water warm. Becky points out that there is a significant amount of water between the hull and the deck, which we can see through the numerous gaps. Libby, who is a weak swimmer, asks me if I thought the water was increasing. I assure her it was not as I quietly noted it was definately increasing over a 10 minute period. The young canadian guy asked for a life jacket. They were filthy and strewn about the deck. Jo from our group, passed him a jacket which literally disintergrates as he hands it over.
At this stage fear is building in the passengers. Someone asked how much longer, given that we are 30 minutes into a 45 minute trip. The response is "about an hour." It seems the boat time quoted of 1.5 hours was not the total, but the one way trip. At this point, I seriously contemplate taking a poll of who has had enough and then declare a mutiny and order the crew to take us to the nearest shore. We are at least 6kms off shore in a heavy swell. I then start planning my strategy, if we were to go over. "Do I have a go for the shore, or try and float and wait to be picked up." All but 3 lifejackets were useless. I was later to learn that all others in our group had been planning their strategies too.
Fortunately the swell turned to a chop and the atoll appeared in front of us. The snorkelling was average but I swam in the best water I have ever swam in. Clear, aqua and warm!
We came back under sail, sticking close to the shore. Shaken but not stirred! No tip given by anyone! Really looking forward to Serengeti.