I am just a girl who loves reading and talking about books
There is so much to do in Zanzibar. There are tourist attractions, the prison island and a dozen more places to go. I didn’t get to do all that. I read about the places and that’s it. There was also the Zanzibar Film Festival that was going on when I was there. I planned to watch “ Nairobi Half Life” which was the only Kenyan movie featured but then again, I didn’t get to do that either.
Instead, I spent my 3 days on the island, lost in the magic of it all. I used to wake up promptly at 7am, have breakfast at the hotel. It was amazing breakfast consisting of fruits, juice, tea/coffee, cereals, break, mandazis, chapattis and some type of yoghurt. Kiponda hotel provides all these inclusive of their daily rate which was just 50 dollars for a double room. I remember it used to take me almost two hours to take breakfast since I wanted to try out everything.
The rest of the day was spent shopping, walking down the narrow streets, sitting at the sea front with a book; I was reading a thriller called “The Perfect Husband”. It was all magical and so perfect. My cell phone was not working so I couldn’t receive texts or calls but this was perfect since I could just relax and not worry about anything.
We (my brother was my travel companion) always had lunch at the Lakwam (sp) restaurant which is always packed mainly with tourists. The food is cheap, plenty and simply delicious. I had biriani almost everyday though.
The Evenings at Forodhani Park
Everyday from 5pm, I promptly headed to the Forodhani Park which is one of the most popular places to hang out in Stone Town. You get to sit at the park and watch the sunsets. It was a breathtaking view with the sky all orange, the waters sparkling in the lights and the atmosphere simply calm and relaxing. I got lost in those sunsets and at that particular moment thought of nothing else.
The activity around the park is also so exciting. The park is at the seafront right at the edge of the ocean. It is raised with stone walls so that you sit around the walls and watch the ocean below. Now the locals like to dive off the high walls and into the ocean. It is quite exciting to watch that. They would try to outdo themselves by doing flips and summersaults mid air and people around would start cheering. I saw kids do the same thing and simply stared in wonder and envy. Wish I could dive off a wall and do that. I also got the feeling that they were enjoying their lives. Imagine that, getting off from work at 5, watching the sunsets and enjoying a swim after that. How simple can life get?
Forodhani Park is also amazing due to the food stands. I ate there every single evening. At 5 pm, food vendors set up their stands and start selling all types of foods especially sea foods. There is also the sweet sugarcane juice that you get to watch as they prepare. There is also a Zanzibari pizza that I ate every single day. It only cost Tshs.2000 which is Kshs.100, imagine that. It was also very filling. Once you pick your food, you just sit around the park and enjoy the meal.
The atmosphere at the park is relaxing, the lights are magical. There is light from the moon and lanterns lit up all around the food stands. The park is normally filled with tourists so making new friends is so easy. The locals too are so friendly and I had some good company there.
I lived in Nairobi from 1989 to 2011 and then moved to Limuru which is near Nairobi. One thing I learned from Nairobi is never to trust people and especially strangers. Having been conned while trying to give directions to a stranger in town, I never even stop when someone asks for my help in town.
I went to Zanzibar with the same fears. I knew I had the word “tourist” bolded and underlined on my forehead and thought this made me a target for cons and thieves.
Sure enough, the forehead tag was there. The minute my brother and I got to Zanzibar, everyone could immediately identify us as foreigners even without having said a word. I had tried to blend in by wearing a long dress like most of the women in town but still, they just knew. Interesting enough, they could tell we were Kenyans, apparently by our walk, sitting and standing posture and teeth. It was very strange but each time, the locals were spot in telling our nationalities. Even at the Taarab hotel, I stood up to dance and suddenly the musician on the mic, switched to a Kenyan song and gave me a shout out. Interesting stuff!
Anyway, people in Zanzibar are so friendly and polite. They say hi “Salaam Aleikum” to everyone and offer you help even if you don’t ask for it. The streets in Stone Town are narrow like in Lamu and they all look the same, I kept getting lost. Each time, someone would shout, “ Shangazi/dada…umepoteaaa….haiya basi…unaenda wapiiii?”. (Yes that is how they talk, they have a drawl, they pull their words and especially the last vowel of every word, sounds like they are singing).Then they would give you directions or take you right up to the place where you want to be. Within a day, I started trusting strangers and I managed to get around the whole town each day by simply asking for directions and each time, I got help.
The tourists also stuck together. When we got to the Kiponda hotel, there were Americans, Norwegians, British and also Tanzanians in the same place. They gave us all the survival tips, told us how to get to different places and what to do.
I remember spending hours at the hotel lounge chatting with my new friends. We brought books, laptops and just sat around, hanging out at the hotel before heading out. It was an awesome experience.
Sleeping (hardly), good food, watching sunsets, making new friends, reading a good book, spending time with my brother, shopping, having fun on the beach is all I did in Zanzibar and couldn’t have asked for a better vacation.
I couldn’t rotate these two pics 😦 I took them at the beach though