Stone Town, Zanzibar: (Day 14) Dec-24-2013

Debby Makes A Silly Face During Our Ride to Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
I woke up early, again--7:00.  I sat beach-side waiting for breakfast to open at 7:30.  After re-packing my bag and settling my tab with reception I joined the others on the bus.  We were on our way to Stone Town by and were trying to be on the road by 10:00am.  After a 1-2 hour ride we should be able to check in at our rooms and take tour of Stone Town.

Hotel in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
We got dropped off at our hotels and about half of us decided to take the Stone Tour tour.  We met in front of our hotel only 5 minutes after getting to our rooms.  The hotel was very interesting.  It was built on a hill and there were these long catwalks that went every-which way--all supported by tall wooden stilts.  Our hotel was on the beach, though I never went down to the water.  The pathways were quite extensive, going from my room to the bar/restaurant and back again took no less than 10 or 15 minutes and involved a series of 60-80 steps, each way.  My room had a/c, a fan, many power outlets, a clean bathroom, a king sized clean bed, a TV, and a patio deck.  This was by far the nicest place I've stayed in over the last 3 weeks.  The rooms were $63 dollars apiece, but Nomad gets a 'heavily reduced' rate.

The Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
The tour started after a short ride from our hotel, The Ocean Side Hotel, when we were dropped off around the corner from the fish market.  The smell was unavoidable.  The first thing that I had noticed was the how everyone was dressed.  Long story short, very religious (Muslim).

Fish Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
The people didn't seem as eager to see us, however the others in the group didn't seem to notice/agree.  Perhaps I got this feeling because we were largely ignored--the locals were just conducting business at the market and seemed to have no interest in tourists.

A Beautiful Door in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
We walked through the market and through some famous parts in Stone Town--The slave trade building, the only 2 churches in the city, and a few other places I can't recall.

What I enjoyed the most was getting the cultural aspects of day-to-day life, not so much the buildings that were somehow related to something of historical significance.

I never really enjoy these things.  Even in Cambodia, when I was at S-21 and the Killing-Fields--learning about the events affected me more to me than my presence at the empty school building that had been used as a prison.  Same could be said when I was in Israel.  We ended our tour at the famous restaurant Africa House.  Many of us discussed our evening plans on the balcony.  The group was planning on coming back in the evening to watch the sunset from here.

Just Outside Slave Trade Building in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
Back at the hotel I watched some national geographic on the TV.  It was a show on Africa and the host was some British guy.  He was trying to make his adventures sound dangerous by calling out the 'poor construction' the house he was staying at and said that a lion could very easily rip it apart and eat him.  I can't stand these types of shows--the types that market themselves as educational but really only offer a sliver of educational value.  They are just like their reality TV counterpart--over dramatized smut packaged as something else.  The producers are more interested in their Nelson ratings than of the content.  I slept at a campsite along the South Luangwa NP where lions, only a week earlier, had wondered into.  I felt safe...the second night at least.  The show was about how lions in the area of Southern Tanzania had turned its focus on hunting human.

At my hotel, while watching TV, I also tried to shop on Amazon.  The internet was so slow that it took 2 hours to place one order.  I felt bad for missing Christmas and New Years with Kelly because she was not happy about being alone for the holidays (and boy did she make sure to emphasize that every moment should could)--so I had wanted to get her something sweet.  I got her a gift package with 4 types of marshmallow peeps (chocolate mouse, gingerbread, and chocolate chip cookie...).  I hope she saves me a few since I've never seen anything other than the original sugar-coated marshmallow type.  I also got her some black currant syrup--she loves that stuff when mixed with hard cider.

On the Balcony of Africa House in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
I hadn't eaten a large breakfast, but had skipped lunch and was now starving.  I had no time to get a snack so I ordered a beer for the calories alone.  I drank it quickly and met the group at 5:45 to catch a taxi to Africa House for the sunset.  Our taxi never arrived and most of the others just sat back waiting.  A couple had said, "This is Africa, mate" and they just figured it would come eventually.  SO ANNOYING!  I went out and asked one of the security guards at our hotel if they could take us.  He said $20....I negotiated him down to $8 and he seemed to comply.  I hoped into a car, along with 3 others.  The others in our group followed suit...I am Scott, herder of the sheep.

Africa House in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
Our driver spoke almost no English.  As we arrived at our destination he tried to ask for more money.  There was some type of argument but I shoved the money in his direction and told our small group to just leave and that the language barrier alone made any communication fruitless.  They agreed and we quickly exited the van.  We had a drink at Africa House and the rest of the group came about 15 minutes later.  The sunset was disappointing as the cloud coverage prevented a clear view.

I smoked hookah with Vincent and Debbie and then left for the food market, by the water, with Divya and Cara.  This market was the the highlight of my far!  This market was like a food market like you find in South East favorite place in the world.  Venders lined the area with all types of food stalls.  There were 4 or 5 main types of vendors, and vendors of the same type didn't differ from one another too much.  There was the fruit vendor, meat vendor, candy vendor, pizza vendor and sugar cane juice vendor.

Night Food Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)

The fruit vendors had dozens and dozens of different types of whole fruit.  You could buy pieces or entire fruits.  We had some jack fruit, which is a very unique tasting fruit.  It's a resembles a combination of pineapple and banana with an almost rubbery texture.  We also tried a fruit that resembled the taste and color of sweet potato, but had the texture of a baked potato--really weird.

Night  Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
Meat vendors had so much variety.  They had dozens of skewers (chicken, chicken masala, lobster, shrimp, prawn, beef, tuna, blue marlin, barracuda, octopus, squid, etc.)  They had entire octopus tentacles the size of large pickles (I had one, it was very tasty, but very chewy).  I also had a blue marlin skewer (one of my new favorite fish), and a barracuda.  They had crab claws and whole crabs, casaba, grilled bananas, garlic naan, coconut chapati, and so much else.  I also tried the chapati, naan, and chicken at one of the vendors stalls.

Night  Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
The Pizza vendors sold these 'Zanzibar' pizzas that were like crepe-sandwiches.  They started with a ball of dough the size of a golf ball and stretched it out into a very thin pizza crust.  They had a lot of filling options and then to complete the masterpiece they folded the 'pizza' edges onto itself and put it onto the grill.  Cara ordered this, I had a few pieces--delicious!

Zanzibar Pizza in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
The sugar cane vendors served a drink which was made right in front of us.  They took an entire sugar cane and passed it through a hand powered press, which caused the plant to shed its juice.  The juice was collected into a large bowl which had a large ice cube in it.  This juice was then drank raw.  Divya ordered a small cup for 500 shillings ($0.33) and we took three straws.  It was very natural tasting--similar to pineapple juice.

Juicing a Sugar Cane in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
The candy vendors had a bunch of candies I had never heard of.  They didn't have any solid chocolates, maybe becuase the heat would cause them to melt?  I bought two things, both were similar to kit kat bars...just more wafer and less chocolate.

Sugar Cane Juice in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
We sat down and enjoyed our meals.  Dozens of stray cats cover the area--they were so cute.  Most of them were white/red, but a few were grey.  They really made me miss Dexter.  I have been having such a great time, but every time I am doing something new I wish I was able to share my experience with Kelly.

I watched some boys jump into the ocean off of the platform about 15 feet up.  It was quite a feat watching these guys get back onto shore.

At the Night Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)
We walked to Africa House to pick up Debby and Vincent, who were just finishing up their dinners.  We were looking for a cab back to our hotel--we needed space for 5 people.  We asked someone on the street and he said he'll find a ride--then he sprinted away looking for someone/thing?  After a minute we saw him sprint across us to the other part of was about 10:00pm at this point.  He came back in his friend's car about 3 minutes later.  We told him $8 and he complied.  We were driving in a direction that was not familiar and some of us were confused.  I said "maybe he's planning on taking us somewhere else".  I thought I had said it quietly but he said, "this is Zanzibar, not Nairobi, it's safe worries, I take care of you".

There were empty beer bottles in the back seat of the SUV we were in.  It was clear that this was his friend's car and that neither of them were 'taxi' drivers.  They took us to the "Island View Hotel".  We had told him we needed "Ocean View" and he asked the hotel guards where that was (it was just down the road).  When we arrived at the hotel we gave him 12000 shilling (which is $8 if you use the standard 1500/$1USD rate).  He argued with us saying it's 1650 shilling for the dollar.  I knew he was trying to screw us so I just told him, "Ok, that's fine, how about I give you $10 and you give us 3300 shilling"?  I was essentially using him as a bank with amazing currency conversion rates.  He said "Ok".  Divya took out $10 and was about to give it to him when I told her to keep the money until he had the 3300 in change.  He came back from the van and said "give me the $10" and after some back and forth he said I keep the 3300 as a tip.  We went back and forth for a while and he was getting upset.  I told him he did not deserve a tip and that he was a thief.  He essentially told me that we'll run into each-other again and that I will be sorry...clearly and empty threat...but still!  Divya finally gave up and got back 3000 shilling, so we did end up paying $8, which is a MORE than reasonable cost for the 5-8 minute car ride.

When I was back at my room I realized I had lost my key and had to purchase a new one at reception.  $30...Shit!.  The replacement keys didn't have numbers on them so Sadie (the guy at the front desk) had to walk back with me to my room and test out a few dozen different keys.  On the walk back, which was at least 5 minutes, I asked about his day.  He had told me his best friend's mother had just died and that his friend couldn't afford a plane ticket back to Dar es Salaam to go home.  Once I got back to my room I washed my face and then met Cara, Vincent, and Debby at the restaurant's bar for a drink.  I  had a Krest, which is a Coca-Cola branded soft drink similar to Sprite but a bit more sour...I really liked it.

In bed I watched the latest Harold and Kumar movie.  I finally went to bed a bit after midnight.  What a day!

Enjoying Some Octopus at Night Market in Stone Town, Tanzania (Zanzibar)