First off, let me start off by apologizing for not writing earlier!
You would not believe the state of some of the internet cafes we have frequented, virtually impossible to even load one page, let alone update a blog with photos.
I made it safely to Gulu, Uganda, a few days ago and am excited ready to share about my adventures over the past two weeks. Later this week I will post the Kilimanjaro blog!
It is absolutely amazing, what can happen in the span of two weeks. I met Abe, Joseph and John in Nairobi early July. We spent a couple days in Nairobi, and then hopped on a plane to Zanzibar, the most stunningly beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on.
As the plane lowered onto the island, I was amazed and in complete shock of the beauty of the island that we were about to venture onto. The way that the endless, clear ocean melted into the clouds gave me a sense of calm and kindness. Is it true, am I really talking about an ocean in this way, this sappy? YES, I think I am. Absolutely unbelievable. I’d like to say our entrance was just as serene, but that was near impossible with the hassle of pushy customs officials, ambitious taxi drivers and other needless characters wanting to assist us.
We were finally able to bargain one driver into the price that suited us and headed on our way to the Flamingo Hostel, a 4 story, crumbling yet beautiful building with a 4 person room, complete with mosquito nets and Swahili chatter from outside, for $10 per night, including a delicious breakfast on the roof! A-okay with me! Once we took a short rest, we ventured onto the cobblestone streets of Zanzibar.
Reminiscent of Morocco, I felt comfortable fairly quickly. Upon entering a Muslim culture, I find that a smile is often the best ticket around the city. Shifty eyes behind burkas turn into humble, kind ones when you choose to greet this way.
The seemingly endless alleyways of Zanzibar are a maze, wide enough to hold a donkey cart. The smell of wood smoke and spices, sights of barefoot children chasing each other and mopeds zipping around every corner make it absolutely amazing. Our walk was stunning.
Around one corner, I peeked into a classroom of elementary age children reciting lessons from the Quran, around the next, a shoemaker hammering away with his tools at leather he got from the cow next door and teaching his knowledge to a young apprentice.
Venturing further down the alleyways proved successful, as we stumbled into a beachside bar complete with Kilimanjaro beers, views of wooden sailboats, and our new friend, Dula, who owned one of the sailboats. Dula, a rasta, who lives on the beach 365 days a year, takes people out to Prisoner Island daily, to see the 100 year old tortoises that live on the island.
That night, we headed to the openair night market, a place where Stonetown locals and tourists gather to barder for dinner. As you approach the market, it feels similar to the Indian market we visited in Nairobi, with millions of different vendors attempting to convince you why “my food is the absolute best, madam!!” “I have octopus, eel, squid, samosa, falafel! Come here, madam!” After about 20 minutes of walking around to the different vendors stands, we realized they were all almost identical, and started haggling to a final price for dinner. We gathered our choices, and went to sit on benches by the ocean to relax and chow down before watching the world cup match.
The following day, we woke up fairly early, ate a nice breakfast on the roof, and met with Dula, who showed us around the spice, animal and fish market. What smells and sights! Busteling with activity and action, we swerved in and out of rows of stalls selling various items. I found the chicken market the most interesting. You enter, scope out the best live chicken, request its death, watch it be put in a vat of boiling water, de-feathered, and take it home to…enjoy!
“The Chicken Stand-off”
After our time at the market, we headed to Kewnda, a beach town in the north of Zanzibar. It took about 45 minutes of driving in our taxi to reach our destination, a stretch of beautiful beach bungalows.We decided to stay at the cheapest option (clearly, ha), in Le Toits de Palms. The accommodations were definitely worth $12, and $12 only a night. The mice, who ate our chocolate, and the hermit crabs walking across the cement floor were good roomies. Yikes.
Taking home fish from the day
Sunset in Kendwa
New friend, KD, in Zanzibar
Bike on tree
ENO hammock lounging
washing in Indian ocean
scared of getting bit by the tortoise
AND! to get you exxcited about the next blog post, here is a picture I took from the plane…