Monday, January 12, 2015

Zanzibar, Zanzibar

The day after our climb we headed back to Dar es Salaam for a night and then took the ferry to Zanzibar the next day.  The travel to Dar was pretty miserable and I had doubts about whether trying to squeeze in Zanzibar was a good idea, but once we finally got to the island all my doubts disappeared.  Zanzibar is truly a magical place.  We stayed in the heart of Stone Town, a part of Zanzibar city that is equal parts old European village and middle eastern town.  The island is 95% muslim so most of the children running around had head scarves and embroidered caps.  The island is semi-autonomous so we had to go through customs and get our passports stamped upon entry.  We spent our days in Zanzibar eating delicious food, riding bikes, snorkeling, going on a spice tour, and wandering the streets of stone town.  It was incredibly hot and humid, but we had A/C in our hotel room so we slept well every night.

The streets of Stone Town

Sugarcane juice with ginger and lime

playing dominoes and drinking coffee in the square

sunset on the water

Zanzibar mix! A delicious soups with falafel, fried potato balls, hard boiled egg, kabob, and veggies in a yogurt broth for less than $1! Yum.
 One day in Zanzibar we did two trips through the tourist office.  In the morning we went snorkeling and in the afternoon we went on a spice tour.  In total, we each paid $20 for the day.  This included everything.  Zanzibar is amazingly cheap.
Snorkel time!

approaching Prison Island for snorkeling
Prison island is so named because it used to be a quarantine location for people and ships on route to Zanzibar Island.  There is no one in prison on Prison Island now, but it is home to over 100 giant tortoises.  They were originally a gift from Seychelles in exchange for some rare Zanzibarbarian plants.  The oldest tortoise in the sanctuary is 191 years old!

but first, turtle.

and peacocks.
 On the spice tour we got to see and taste tons of fruits and spices.  Here are a few of the best ones:

Breadfruit. Our guide told us it is called breadfruit because when boiled the fruit is kind of like bread.

Turmeric.  Used as a coloring in curries.


Vanilla bean.

Jackfruit.  It is the largest fruit in the world.  These are still babies, but the big ones can be up to two feet long.

Nutmeg. The red stuff on the outside of the seed is mace.

Removing the is a really weird texture. Kind of like plastic.

The mace separate from the nutmeg.  Apparently the mace has a more delicate flavor than the ground nutmeg seed.

Harvesting cinnamon by peeling off the bark.  The wood is then used for firewood.  Best smelling fire ever!

A man climbing a coconut tree.  All he used was twine between his feet for gripping.  He then just used friction and leverage to climb straight up!
Visiting Moshi and Zanzibar gave me a whole new perspective on Africa.  These towns showed me that there can be functional places in Africa that understand tourism and offer quality services.  After a year in Mozambique I had the impression that all of Africa was like Mozambique, but that is definitely not the case.  It is easy to forget how young Mozambique is as an independent country.  The truth is that Mozambique has only been a country free of war since 1992. Visiting a more developed country in Africa helped me realize that Mozambique just needs more time to develop.  I can't expect Mozambique to be in the same place as Tanzania, a country that has been peacefully independent for 50 years.  I am hoping I can remember that as I face all the daily frustrations of living in Mozambique during my second and last year of living here.  I am part of the process of increasing development in Mozambique and I can't wait to come back here in 30 years and see how far the country has come.

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