Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventures, Adventures and… Adventures

This last month and a half has been one of vacations. In late December, I decided at the last minute to go to Zanzibar (an Indian ocean island off the coast of Tanzania) with a group of friends for Christmas.
We (PC friends and I) took a bus from Kigali (capital of Rwanda) to Dar es Salaam (capital of Tanzania) at 6:00 a.m. on Dec. 19th. But we weren’t to arrive until about 3:30 p.m. the next day. At around 10 p.m. “sleepy time”, the road became a bumpy dirt road making it very difficult to sleep. The landscape was beautiful and very African looking. After arriving in Dar, we took a boat that evening to Zanzibar (2 hrs). We arrived in the Stone Town, a beautiful city that I’ll describe later.
The electricity was out on the entire island due to the explosion of a transformer (or something). I found a cheap hotel with a generator and unloaded. I met with two friends that night for dinner. We walked aimlessly along the ancient winding streets only to come across a park on the sea lined with dozens of tables lit by lanterns and manned by men in chefs hats. Big eyed and curious we walked up to the first table. “Welcome, please take a look”, the short charismatic chef said in his charming African accent, “as you can see we have the freshest shark that is cooked by our amazing chef, and octopus, crab...” he continued to list the types of seafood that lay on the table for a couple minutes (there must have been 20+ varieties to choose from). We ate like kings and sipped on delicious fresh squeezed sugar cane juice.
The next day we stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient palace. Went to a beautiful beach and walked out to sea only to get our feet scratched. We came back bleeding a little but still satisfied. We also got to see a Taarab band (traditional Zanzibar music that basically sounds middle eastern except the lyrics are in Swahili). We wandered around the streets of stone town admiring the elaborate doors that had been carved out of wood with large elephant stopper spikes sticking out. The streets were tiny and dark. The electricity was supposed to come back before christmas but it never happened but we had a great time still. Our group did a secret santa gift exchange for christmas which we spent at a friends house in Zanzibar and on the most beautiful white beach I’ve ever seen. I guess we had a white christmas after all! This time we walked in the water again past the seaweed farms trying to get to the tide which was hundreds of feet out. We didn’t make it before a friend was stabbed by a sea urchin and then stung by a jelly fish almost simultaneously… so we went back satisfied just to eat mangos on the beach.
I left the group to return to Rwanda a little early to begin my next journey. The bus ride back was pretty rough though. Conclusion… Zanzibar is incredible. It is literally a mix of Africa, the Middle East and India all in one. By far, it was the most unique place I have ever seen.

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