Day 183 Zanzibar Island : Dar-es-Salaam - Stonetown

Day 183 Zanzibar 

As a group we had decided that we wanted to catch the fast ferry over to Zanzibar.  The 2nd to last one left at 12:30pm and as we needed to be at the main ferry port 1 hour before departure, and knowing that the car queue for the south to north beach ferry was always over 1 hours wait (therefore a taxi out of the question), we set about ordering 4 bajajs (tuk-tuks) as these were let onto the south to north beach ferry as foot passengers ie on straight away.  Bearing in mind that this is Africa and wanting to allow for some contingency time, we booked them for 10am.  We were surprised (pleasantly so) when the 4 bajajs arrived on time.  We had all woken up at day break to pack our bags and stow away the rest of our worldly possessions along with the vehicles.  We were leaving them parked up securely at Mikadi campsite.  For TSH2000 per day (including electric hookup) this turned out to be a great deal and the vehicles were looked after and the electricity checked regularly.

a_DSCN0419 Tucked up in our tuk-tuks, we set off.  We arrived at the south beach ferry and waited for what seemed like a long time for foot passengers.  It was.  35 minutes later we watched the ferry set off from north beach but as it arrived at south beach it pirouetted gracefully in water and came in backwards.  And now?  Turns out the ramp was broken and all the vehicles were now having to reverse off.   OMG, we checked our watches, we weren't going to make the 12:30pm ferry.  Under normal circumstances I would be in a panic trying to resolve this.  Now?  No worries, this was Africa.  The 12:30pm ferry was probably going to be late anyway and even if it wasn't we would catch the next ferry (the slow one) and get to Stonetown just a bit later.  Finally we managed to get onto the ferry and we were off.  As predicted the 12:30 ferry was late and we had plenty of time to buy tickets and then wait in queue till boarding which only started at 1pm for a 1:30pm departure.  US$70 lighter and we were on our way.

Yesterday, Dickie and Claire had spent some time on the internet and calling various hotels and guesthouses in Stonetown.  They had eventually settled on one called Warere Guesthouse in Stonetown so we all decided that it would be a good idea as it was only US$35 for a double room including breakfast.  In terms of pricing in Stonetown this was quite reasonable.  Dickie ended up chatting to the manager, Jimmy, who promised as it was only a 5 minute walk to the guesthouse from the port, to prepare a board with our names and collect us from the port to walk us to the guesthouse.  Jimmy turned out to be an amazing bloke and an absolute diamond.

As promised, there was Jimmy waiting for us at Stonetown ferry port and we made our way to the guesthouse.  At first, the guesthouse looked like it was going to be a bit dire as the entrance is dark and dreary.  But turns out that as it is one of the original styled buildings, the darkness meant that it was always cool inside despite the roasting temperatures outside.  The rooms upstairs were clean and neat if a little old but the huge Zanzibarian 4 poster beds with draped mozzie nets, a working ceiling fan and a cold fridge made up for any tattiness.  The bathrooms with hot fresh water showers and flushing loos were clean and functional. 

We unpacked our bags, showered and changed and made our way downstairs looking for somewhere to have some lunch/supper as we had just snacked on the ferry on the way over.  Our first stop out was to book an island spice tour for all of us for the following day.  On the ferry on the way over to Zanzibar, we had read in Dickie's guide book that the recommended tour company to use was Mitu's Tour Company.  Turns out that by good luck and providence, this is where Jimmy took us.  For US$12 each we would be treated to a spice tour, a flavour tasting of tropical fruits, lunch, a swim in a secluded bay and a visit to a slave cave on the beach.  Good value.  So we booked and arranged to meet Junior Mitu the following day for a 9:15 start.

With our tummies grumbling, we made our way over to the Fodohani Square where there was supposed to be food stalls but found nothing.  So we continued on and went to the Africa House Hotel where there was purported to be good food and a great sunset.  Turns out both were correct.  The hotel was fabulously decoratedDSCN0426 DSCN0423 , the food albeit expensive was fantastic and the view of the sunset DSCN0427 from the lounge verandah was everything it was written up to be. 

We walked back to the guesthouse via the promenade front and all the food stalls that weren't there earlier had suddenly appeared.  The square was packed with them selling everything from starters through to seafood kebabs, goat mishkaki and fresh lobster to desserts of local Zanzibarian pizza stuffed with banana, nutella, chocolate chunks and covered in a chocolate hershey sauce.  Unsurprisingly we stopped for something to eat - we hadn't had dessert after all!  So a round of sweet pizzas and chunks of fresh watermelon which we ate with sweet juice pouring down our chins followed and we sat on the promenade wall, looking over the water, the sky filled to overflowing with stars and life was good. 

When we got back to the hotel, while Sonja and Natasha were tucked up in bed to listen to their next instalment of Harry Potter, Trevor and Ben hunted around for Jimmy (Jim'll fix it for you!) who took them through winding streets and passages to buy a bottle of wine and some beer for a nightcap on the roof terrace.  We whiled away a couple of hours till we began to nod off and went off to bed to await tomorrow's spice tour.