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Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 26, 2011-Zanzibar

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Zanzibar waterfront

Flying north from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania the captain came on and said, “We are now crossing the border from Zimbabwe to Mozambique, Malawi is on the right and Zambia is in the distance to the left.”

Those names were evocative of Africa. Despite the fact that we had been in South Africa since April and we’ve been to the Durban city a few times and to the bush on safari twice, it was just then, for the first time, I really felt it was Africa.

And Dar Es Salaam felt like Africa too. I sat back in the taxi on the way in from the airport and watched the African scene slide by: a long four lane road, crowds of people waiting at each corner for buses or shuffling along or riding old bicycles on the dusty path where a sidewalk would be if it wasn’t the third world. We crept through intersections with broken traffic lights and lots of honking cars and bounced over broken pavement into the city where the Holiday Inn was a refuge. Later we walked to the ferry terminal and were mobbed and jostled by ticket sellers. Dar Es Salaam was a jungle.

But the next day we managed to elbow our way onto the ferry to Zanzibar and there the pace was slower. We pushed out of the crowd at the ferry landing and walked down a narrow alley to our hotel in an old mansion in historic Stone Town and they gave us a glass of watermelon juice to refresh us and cold towels to wipe away the travel dust. The room was up three flights and it had a four poster bed with mosquito netting and a ceiling fan which rotated lazily. We looked out from the balcony over the roofs of the UNESCO heritage site with buildings dating back hundreds of years, back to when the Portuguese then the Arabs made Zanzibar the center of the East African slave trade and the Sultan of Oman moved his capital to Zanzibar. We heard the mullahs calling the faithful to prayer but other than that Zanzibar was quiet, particularly when compared to the bustle of Dar Es Salaam. We thought we’d like it.

Walking in Stone Town

It was just a short trip out of the country to get new South African visas but we made the most out of our three days in Zanzibar; we walked every alley and street in the ancient Stone Town and photographed it all. We shopped for a Persian carpet, but there were none except in the museums, and coffee beans, which we found in the market where we bargained with the shopkeepers and finally bought two kilos for a good price. We even found our way to a dark and smoky bar one evening and listened to a band play late into the night.

Stone Town

And then it was over. We took the ferry back to Dar and flew back to Richards Bay on Tuesday, landing in a violent windstorm and thankful to make it down safely, and now we’re back on Wings.

It was a good trip.

We'll post the photos in a few days.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Richards Bay, South Africa

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