Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The rest of the Zanzibar trip.

I didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to post while I was in Zanzibar as there was only one computer at our hotel, and some mangy children kept occupying it playing games. Where are the parents? I ask you. Where. Are. The. Parents.

Regardless, after my last little rant against Stone Town, things got better. It's always nicer when there are plenty of muzungus (translated literally as: "people from the sea" in Swahili, though it really just means white people) around as there are more people to distract the sellers from me. I did a little shopping, but I was a bit disappointed. A lot of the stuff in Zanzibar is the same stuff that you can get in Dar es Salaam - only it's more expensive because there are more tourists. And let's be honest - I think I pretty much bought all of the candlesticks/boxes/bowls/little human-esque figures that a person could possibly need the last time I was here.

I did decide to treat myself to a swanky dinner that night. There are two restaurants at the hotel I stayed at (Mtoni Marine Center, for those who might be curious). So, I went ahead and made a reservation at the "expensive" hotel. I put the word expensive in quotation marks because the shilling is doing particularly poorly right now, so nothing is really expensive in Tanzania. I had a lovely four course meal for US$21.05. Zanzibari food is extremely rich because of all of the spices (hence the spice island, right?) so it was hard for me to finish a couple of the courses. The best was definitely the slightly cardamom flavored creme brulee. I love food.

Let's see ... on Monday, I went diving for the very first time (outside of my open water dives, I mean). It is true that one particular boy badgered me mercilessly until I agreed to get my SCUBA certification, but I'm very glad I went ahead and did it after all. I did a double dive, which means I did two dives in one day with lunch in between. So, the day started with a lovely boat ride out to the coral reef. There were some snorkelers, some student divers, and five certified divers (myself included, she says while patting herself on the back). The diving instructor was very good, which made me feel pretty comfortable with everything. The only bad thing was one of the ladies kept swimming directly under me and really close to my fins, so I kept accidently kicking her in the face. This made me super paranoid because I thought I was kicking corals, and those matter to me way more than some asshole's teeth.

The coolest thing I saw was an octopus, curled up into his little cave. We could see a couple of tentacles. I saw many nemofish swimming around in anemones. Saw a blue spindly starfish, as well as a MASSIVE red velvety looking one. Saw a beautiful red snapper (prettier in the water, but tastier on my plate). Saw a tiny skate, one of the fish that looks like Gil from Finding Nemo, tons of the black and white striped angels, a couple of long nosed wrasses, a couple of the yellow and blue angels and the yellow and purple stripey angels. Hmm, what else, what else ... plenty of coral. Plate coral, brain coral, some bubble-y looking coral, some of the straight stick like coral. A lot of reddish looking stuff, but there was some bright blue tubey kind as well. (There were some little kids with us that were snorkeling, and they were monopolizing the fish book.) Oh, and there were some sea cucumbers and and and and


So, I liked the diving.

This morning, I just picked up a few last minute things I decided I wanted around Stone Town, including a beautiful antique compass that actually still works. I love that everything is so cheap in Africa! I also decided, at the last minute, the the idea of another three hours on the ferry pressed up against about ten million people was not my idea of a good time; nor did the idea of having to go down to the harbor and try to wrestle with the ferry people to give me a ticket on the fast ferry. Add to that that the kind people at the hotel could make plane reservations for me, and taking a plane is only twenty minutes for twenty more dollars ... I decided to take the plane.

If I thought the plane that went from Nairobi to Dar was small, my entire plane size scale has just been re-aligned. This plane (from Coastal Charters) held a mere 12 people. It also had a propeller - one propeller, right on the front of the plane. The pilot just turned around from the cockpit and told us where our life preservers were, and one of the passengers rode in the copilot seat because they accidently oversold the flight by one. No one checked my ID, though my luggage was scanned. The pilot asked whether we'd prefer to be let off in the domestic or international terminal at Dar es Salaam, which was rather nice of him I suppose.

And now I am back here. Hopefully I will be able to actually get some work done tomorrow, as I am flying to Ethiopia on Thursday.


  1. I'm glad you got the chance to go scuba. I went once when I was a kid and remember it fondly. Always wanted to do it again...

  2. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!