Zanzibar Culture

Stone Town was the colonial capital of ‘the spice island’ unfortunately since Tanzanian independence 50odd years ago none of the many splendid buildings, balconies and arches have been maintained, painted or even cleaned, apart from the beautiful intricately carved doors (it’s famous for them). When this place falls down (and I’ll give it 10 years tops!) the doors will be all that is left.

Still despite it’s rough and ready feel, we wandered the narrow alleys, browsed the stalls and shops but made sure did not partake in the food on the hawker stalls of the night market (one risk too many me thinks) and generally enjoyed the slightly scary, slightly amusing Afro/Arabic mix.

If you’re ever here try the spice tour, the Shwartz spice rack contents in your kitchen almost certainly started out here and it was more interesting than I expected (that’s the tour not your spice rack), plus you can buy handfuls of vanilla pods, nutmeg and cinnamon for a couple of quid.

Next, Jambiani village to start the beach bit, we arrived via what is locally know as the main road – in reality it’s the gaps between the buildings, there are more cows, goats & chickens than vehicles!

We crash on the beach for 4 days and do nothing. Our laziness is interrupted hourly by the local kids…

“Jambo, jambo, pen for school?”
“Jambo, jambo, chocolate?”
“Jambo, jambo, football?”
“Jambo, jambo, t-shirt?”

This is one of the poorest places in the world, tourism is helping but apart from a couple of places on the island the big hotels and big money has not arrived – just the back packers, the kids are entertaining if not a little persistent.

At low tide the water recedes almost 2 miles, the local ladies come out to harvest the farmed seaweed and collect coconut husk pinned under rocks overnight. We walk out amongst them past stranded fishing dhows and make for the rock pools nearer the waters edge – there are many crabs and little fish around but for the bigger stuff a boat trip is required to get out to the reefs.

Next stop the attractively named Dungwe.
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