He is not as disreputable as he looks

Day 306, Monday 05 November 2012 – Dar es Salaam

Damn, I knew as soon as I wrote that good sleep was habit forming I would sleep badly and I did. No reason for it, bed was comfy, it was warm but not overly so and the night market food was still comfortably sitting in my belly.
We had breakfast on the roof of the Safari Lodge, the view was not spectacular and it was overcast and already humid – it was looking to be a sticky day. We were serenaded throughout breakfast by the voices of chanting children from the school next door.

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When we went to go out I couldn’t find my sunglasses in the room. I suspect I dropped them when the flash cards fell out of my bag last night – bugger ! I have managed to not lose those sunglasses for two years, they had some good memories, oh well.

Brett, Simon, Leonie and I went for a walk to the Zanzibar coffee shop.

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Just after we left the hotel I spotted a door that looked like it was worth photographing and swung my bag off my back to get my camera out. I had a sudden pain right across my chest and back and my first thought was “shit, I am having a heart attack”. I checked for other symptoms, no shortness of breath, no numbness – so decided it wasn’t anything immediately critical. I was in real pain but kept my mouth shut until we sat down in the cafe. By then the pain was just in my back and it slowly worked its way out over the rest of the day – a wee nervous moment!

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The coffee was excellent though. Possibly the best I have had in Africa 🙂

We reluctantly dragged ourselves out of the coffee shop and returned to the hotel to check out and store our bags in an empty room. Once sorted we were back out into the heat to see if we could find a working ATM that took Mastercard. It seems the one I found last night had been fixed, which was great news as I could then replace my nice expensive sun glasses with a pair of ten dollar Riy Dons, funnily enough the logo is quite similar to Ray Bans 🙂

We spent the next hour or so randomly walking the streets and alleys of Stone Town. It is a pretty cool place, old and run down, but still a living and breathing residential city. I did love the doorways – a lot !

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There is a great blue here that I just love, I am going to add it to my favourite colours list, along with Vietnam yellow – they are colours that will remind me of places I have visited.

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I loved the Girl Guide sign above this doorway into the old fort area.

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Laughed at this !

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We stopped for lunch at Green Garden Cafe, pizza and an avocado, ginger, mango and lime mocktail for me. Yum ! It started to rain while we were lunching so we hung around for a while waiting for it to stop as no-one had a jacket or umbrella or anything else remotely sensible.

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The rain hadn’t stop before we left. The streets of Stone Town were ankle deep in some places, I would like to think it was mostly fresh rain water, but God alone knows what we waded through.

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The eves from the shops on both sides of the narrow streets were not really built to allow anyone to walk under in the rain so there was a constant stream of runoff from the roofs pouring on heads and shoulders as well as the rain itself. It stopped when we were almost back to the hotel and we found others from our group wandering wetly around as we neared it.

I love this – they are football mad here, but not everyone has a TV, so this guy puts the results up, very cool, though obviously a Liverpool supporter.

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Once back at the hotel we had some time to kill so I went on a quick stroll aroud the immediate area, I found a nice little graveyard in the middle of the houses.

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And finally, another bicycle, right over the road from the hotel.

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We had a 3:30 ferry back to Dar es Salaam to catch so we walked over to the port at 2:45. I had a wee “oh shit” moment when I could not find my ferry ticket, I could have sworn it was in my pocket, luckily it was in my bag.

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The ferry was different to the one we came over on, it also appeared to be over sold and we were lucky to get seats on the top, uncovered deck. The ride was lovely though, mostly smooth for the whole journey, apart from a brief, light shower when we got on it was sunny all the way as well. The best news was it only took an hour and a half to get there, thirty minutes faster than the way out.

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Once disembarked, Brett hired a mini-van that was to take us to the harbour crossing ferry, come with us over the harbour and drop us at the campsite. The kilometre to the ferry took almost one and a half hours, but it was a quick ride over the harbour and back to our ever faithful truck. I think we all missed our home away from home.

It was after 7:00 and dark when we arrived. Fortunately the tents were still up from when we left three days ago and Ebron had dinner all prepared, so no chores pre-eating, yay!
It was the birthday of one of my fellow travellers so there was another Ebron special cake for dessert. Double yay !!

People jelous never win

Day 305, 04 Sunday November 2012 – Stone Town, Zanzibar

Another great night’s sleep, this sleeping thing is almost getting to be habitual. I am definitely not going to complain if this keeps up.

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I wandered up to the cafe to pick up a couple of pre-breakie lattes, they are not particularly good, but they are rare and it is the thought that counts! Breakfast was another leisurely affair, I ate plenty, just not as much as yesterday. I still took a post feed lie down before we had to check out of the room at ten.

Yesterday we all agreed as a group to stay here at the resort until 3:00 rather than head into a hot and humid Stone Town in the morning. We have most of a day there tomorrow to explore the streets, so a day off around a good pool in a sea breeze before the hurly burly of a busy city and then back on the truck was just perfect.

I spent most of the morning lazing by the pool taking the occasional dip as the fancy took me. It is overcast again today so not too hot to be outside, though my face did get a touch of sun burn. Lunch was another massive affair, it will be good to leave here, too much food !!
I took a quick final dip in the Indian ocean before getting ready to jump on the mini-bus back to Stone Town. Out of the water it was a quick stroll up the beach to the hotel, trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid the hawkers on the way.

The hawkers are a pain, they are hard to get rid of once they collar you and they collar quickly. I understand they need to make a buck and there is little other opportunity to do so. However, they are all over the beach rendering it almost useless. The beach is beautiful – soft white, clean coral sand, edged with a clear, warm sea. It should have sunbathers and swimmers all over it. We were all by the pool where we can relax unmolested – a real shame. There are gates and guards at all entrances to the hotel to keep the hawkers out, but not on the beach – I guess that is a good thing though.

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The bus to Stone Town took about an hour and was a pretty quiet affair, most of the people seemed to just sleep the trip away. Rather than glossy posters the hairdressers here have hand painted pictures, they are quite amusing – and I am leaving my hair till I get back to the UK.

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The bus dropped us off about one hundred metres away from the Safari Lodge Hotel which was down a series of alley ways. I am really looking forward to exploring them tomorrow ! It is very reminiscent of the old part of Barcelona, with narrow and twisty alleys through mostly crumbling old buildings. I loved that part of Barcelona.

Here there was very little grafitti, and though there are loads of bikes, none of them have been in a place where I can photograph them, so unfair!

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We unpacked and then all met in reception for a walk to a recently opened hotel where we had a cocktail on the roof and watched a rather uninspired sunset. It was entirely pleasant and all rather peaceful, unlike the hectic night market where we went for dinner ! I took a few pictures from the roof.

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My feet were a little itchy so I wandered off for a bit and walked around some of the streets surrounding the hotel. I found an ATM that took Mastercard but it was broken, damnit.

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I finally headed back to the hotel for the sunset and a beer.

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The night market is a food market, mainly aimed at tourists, but there were plenty of local people eating as well. It was also very cool. As soon as we walked in the gates of the harbour front park where the night market was located we were surrounded by the touts trying to entice us to their stalls. The entrance was hectic but once through the initial melee it was quite calm inside.

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The seafood did not really appeal so I followed our tour leader’s recommendation and went for a shish kebab, a hugely popular stall. While I waited for that I had a Zanzibar pizza, which is basically a pancake.

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They come with a huge variety of sweet and savory options and I elected for the popular Nutella and banana option. It was delicious, after the kebab I went back and had a chocolate, vanilla and banana one. I also tried a sugar cane and ginger drink, pressed directly from the cane, also delicious. I missed street food.

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After dinner we went to Mercury’s Bar for a glass or two. The bar is named after Freddy Mercury, the late singer from Queen, who was born on Zanzibar. As we left the bar Simon came out saying he had found a couple of Flash cards and handed them in at the bar. I instantly knew they must have been mine and sure enough they were, they must have fallen out of my bag when I got my wallet out. Lucky for me they were found, whew !