So I got in to Dar on Monday, where I was met at the bus station by Domitila (YCI staff). We took a lovely stroll over to the Ethiopian Airlines office and got my ticket sorted out, and then we went to Subway for lunch. Oh yes, Subway. It was pretty much like the Subways back home, except they had Indian subs on the menu and the cheese slices came individually wrapped.
Later than night I met up with Megan and Lindsay, two friends of my friend Kate’s who are working with Amref. We went to a giant outdoor restaurant that hosted us and one other couple all night. Apparently it’s the place to be on weekends though. They played Garth Brooks and Michael Bolton on the request of one of their friends, who joined us after we ate.
I woke early the next morning and got on the 7:00 ferry to Zanzibar. The Ferry was really nice, although the in-voyage movie was Mr. Bones, which is basically Ace Ventura 2 without the part where Jim Carey crawls out a rhino’s ass. It’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. At the docks in Zanzibar I was met by someone from my hotel, the Princess Salme Inn. Although a little pricier than some, this place is pretty awesome. And frankly, I’m worth it. AC, a full bathroom complete with toilet and proper shower, queen sized bed, etc. All in an old Arabic-style building that looks to be made entirely of white plaster. And the staff has been great. And they have a fridge full of beer and pop on the honour system. And free wireless internet. And a rooftop patio where I received a free breakfast of eggs, toast, mango, pineapple, guava, banana, watermelon, and coffee this morning.
I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and took a little tour of old Stone Town. Saw the Sultan’s palace, the old slave market, the fish market, the waterfront, etc.
Last night I met up with some fellow Canadians at the hotel, and we went for dinner at Mercury’s, which is (supposedly) a Freddy Mercury themed restaurant right on the beach. There were a few pictures, but our dreams of eating seafood to the sound of Fat Bottom Girls were dashed.
This morning I ate my awesome breakfast and then went out for a half-day spice tour. It probably doesn’t sound as cool as it is. Basically, they take you into the forest and show you all the stuff that grows there. I think I’m missing some, but we saw: nutmeg, turmeric, vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, jackfruit, star fruit, black pepper, aloe, coffee, coconuts, lychee, ginger, lemongrass, and whatever the plant is that contains quinine. Cinnamon bark tastes just like cinnamon. It’s amazing.
We also found the plant that Indian women use on their foreheads.
Also learned that nutmeg makes girls horny (the guide’s words), and ginger makes men “very powerful”.
After that, they took us to an old bathhouse that the Sultan made for his wife back in the day. The story goes that she didn’t want him to have more than one wife, so out of spite he took 99 more to make it an even 100. So he’d send her off to the spa every week so he could play with his other wives.
We got lunch included (the total price was $15 for the day). They made us Pilau with curry and chipati. We then went to the beach, which was secluded and amazing. The water was really warm. White sand, azure water, palm trees, shells and coral everywhere, little outrigger boats moored further out. It had it all. And no sharks. It didn’t have sharks. So it was perfect.
Zanzibar is a pretty magical place, all-in-all. Before I left I had a chat with Susan, my program manager at Humber for about an hour. She mentioned that at night the sky seems so close that you can touch it. And after being here, I understand what that means. It’s dark purple after sunset, and it seems like it closes right in on you. It’s pretty cool.
Tonight, live music!