A Travellerspoint blog


An archipelago of Tanzanian islands

sunny 96 °F

The first band of light crept beneath our heavy curtains this morning as the day began in Zanzibar. And then we heard horns blaring --- and whistles blowing --- and people shouting -- and backup signals beeping and wheels squealing. Oh my, this is not the gentle port on the Indian Ocean that we remember. On one side of our ship it is; to starboard small dhows glide gently as they drop their graceful sails; to port (our side) MAERSK SEALAND containers are piled high, some open, some empty, some being offloaded. Chaos abounds. The hopeful day laborers (think Matthew 20) squat beside the shipping containers calling (yelling) out their availability. Those employed grab huge sacks of rice and cement, bicycle tires, even a commercial fridge, and pop them into their trucks. Now the trucks are loaded and ready to go --- but every avenue of departure is blocked, and that’s when the beeps and whistles begin. Adding to the uproar were troupes of teenage dancers and musicians pounding out strong rhythms and inviting us to dance with them (here Fernando, our cruise director, joins the troupe).

Such disorder, near pandemonium, was scary in Mozambique where vendors followed us and shouted at us. In Zanzibar, the hubbub feels electrifying, alive, African. The vendors here are charming; one spent much time sharing his shell collection without making a sales pitch. And when we asked the price of a particularly beautiful specimen, he told us: $2. We didn't bargain!

We spent the afternoon at the Spice Plantation, smelling leaves and roots and seeds of cloves, nutmeg, curries, cardamom, cinnamon. Our charming guide would have his aides crush a plant into our hands and then make us guess its identity. Pretty easy with #1: lemon grass and #2: ginger root, but as the heat grew and the smells abounded, our olfactory senses froze on overload. What’s more, daubs of local oils and creams were put on our arms : hibiscus, vanilla, ylang-ylang – so we felt like a perfume shop. Hope eventually became overcome with heat and aroma, so her guide brought a chair and carried it through the woods for her, stopping in the shade when there was something to be noted .... like the lithe young man who climbed trees and picked coconuts.

Finally we visited the ruins of Maharubi Palace, built in the 1870's by a Sultan of Omanwho came here on weekends. He had 99 concubines at Maharubi, so we don't think his weekends were very relaxing. After a tea stop at the lovely Serena Hotel, we settled down with a beautiful sunset.

Posted by HopeEakins 05:24 Archived in Tanzania

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Hi Hope. Your lovely flowered skirt fits the scenery, but it is not wilted, as you appear to be. I hope that you feel better in general

(don't post)

by Seabury

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