From Malawi to Zanzibar my cultural senses are being put into overdrive. Another slice of Africa to explore!
I've taken 5 days out to see another part of Africa and to 'write my thesis'. I hear you all laugh but I have been semi productive so far! 3 more days to go so time will tell!
I write this first bit sitting in an 'office' in the heart of Stone Town, Zanzibar. A predominantly Muslim community with a mix of indigenous Africans , Arab and middle eastern / Indian influence. It's like something out of the movies. Sitting in an office with rickety old chairs. Dust piled high. Men of importance wheeling and dealing inside and out of the office. A hive of conversation. None of which I understand. Do I need to understand?! The mix of languages and culture on an island of its own cultural significance makes my heart swell with excitement as well as nervousness. Very different level of 'angst' compared to my last 18 months.
Eventually my tour driver turns up and escorts me to a van parked under a wooden window shutter that had 2 sparrow like birds sitting on it. Totally Cinderella!
We then drove (at speeds not quite legal or safe) to pick up other people for the tour and our tour guide Muhammad. We traveled up the only hill on this side of the island to the spice farms. Honestly the best thing I've done in ages. A meander through the jungle to come across fresh turmeric, cardamon, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, oranges, grapefruit, star fruit and many more. All of which we could eat fresh. Amazing! The tour was finished off with spiced rice, tomato and coconut Veges and local spinach. So full of flavour - I am going to experiment with my rice!
I returned back to town via local bus as I was only doing the half day. I recouped and headed into the township to wander through the streets and find some happy pants. I was absconded by an older man who wanted me to see his spice shop. I said I'm shopping so he showed me the streets and then I went to his spice shop. Love the back alleys and the finds!! I need another suitcase so I reigned it in and kept to the schedule!
Back to the hotel and told myself I have to write for an hour so I did. Shower had and headed to find seafood! Amazing! Fish, prawns & fresh calamari with masala spices and vege! Taste bud explosion!
Finished off my taste explosion with a Nutella Zanzibar pizza at the night markets!
Back to the room to read. Drink fresh mint tea and dream of tomorrow’s adventures!
I woke the next morning with excitement of the Stone Town tour that was to ensue!
My brain hurts from cultural overflow. I did a 3hr walking tour this morning that went through the history of the island, the slave trade, the various sultans & cultural nuances specific to Zanzibar.
We meandered through the local food market where I saw the largest bananas I have ever seen. No that is not a euphamism! Seriously these things were as long as watermelons and fat like giant courgettes (zucchinis). We then went through the fish market where the stench wasn't as bad as the meat section. I would've become a vegetarian if I had to go through there!
We wandered through various streets, soaking in the various characters of Stone Town. The mix of women and men of Muslim faith as well as the children coming back from Madrassa was a hive of activity and I felt so very white! Watching the children with their small change bartering for sweets was like something out of a an Arab movie. I keep waiting for action to occur. I am so stereotypical and have watched too much Homeland or something!
The peaceful nature of this island doesn't begin to describe it. I'm less fearful here even compared to Malawi which is strange.
The old slave market threw me a little bit. To see where people were captured and held and to hear of their ‘worth’ with it only ceasing in 1873 sent shivers down my spine. This David Livingstone was a bloody legend! He was like the Nelson Mandela of his time only white and Scottish!
We went to a variety of buildings that were owned by Arabs and decorated in interesting architecture . I was absorbing every inch! Around every corner there was something else to absorb. Walking tours are underrated and given I had a private one just me and Muhummid he earnt his pay and then some!
After 3hrs or so I had a quick bite to eat before being collected by my driver and taken to Matemwe on the far north east coast to Azanzi Beach Hotel. Paradise! The room I'm staying in is decadent. I am completely in another world! White sandy beaches, cocktails, Maasai men on the grass - I have entered another time. Another cultural haven. Perfect writing environment.
Another hour or so of writing was completed and now lying on the sand soaking up the wind , ready for the next few hours of dinner and more writing.