Tuesday, April 30, 2013

That Day We Were on a Bus ALL DAY!

Now, that is the title I had in my journal and although it sounds horrendously boring I have four and a half pages dedicated to it in my journal so let's see...

4:30am was slowly becoming our regular rising time and we were once again leaving our loyal base at Midlands Lodge. We were also getting used to spending more time sleeping in our converted jeep than any hotel room. Today we were heading all the way to Zanzibar driving from Moshi to Dar es Salaam and then catching a ferry to Stone Town and then another drive to our hotel. We'd probably be on the move for about 14 hours...

For the first three hours Dan and I were respective pillows before we stopped for breakfast, but nobody explained how to order or where. We ended up playing the Tourist Card and getting away with merely pointing at things if we wanted them. Back on the bus there was - not surprisingly- more sleeping. We were all pretty shattered even after a few near misses on the road before arriving in Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is very built up and modernised but it was so noticeable considering where else we have been and it was strange to see a skyscraper again.

When we arrived at the port we all had to hand our passports to Muskim so he could get our tickets, probably as dodgy as it sounds. Getting lunch was a challenge with a team heading out in the middle of a city with a large Islamic population during ramadan to try and get food. Even once they got it we had to eat it secretly which is quite a task at such a busy port. Eventually Muskim arrived back with our passports just in time for us to leap onto the boat to try and find some floor space. The boat was actually much fancier than I had expected with lots of seats and an air conditioned economy lounge as well as a first class lounge. Seating didn't really matter as even most of the floor was taken up as well. I didn't mind standing up on the upper deck as eleven hours on a bus was enough sitting for one day.

The two hours on the ferry sailed by (I couldn't help myself!) and we were greeted by the picturesque skyline of Stone Town. The calm was quickly interrupted by the havoc of the ferry landing where we had to fill out immigration forms and get a stamp in our passports - they obviously like to still classify them selves as a separate country but I won't complain, I'll take the extra stamp! Also you could skip the yellow fever certificate if you pass the officer some money under the table. Stone town has a pick and mix of buildings from colonial palaces alongside traditional Arabic architecture. Dhows were clustered around the coast as the sun was beginning to set casting a rose sheen over everything. Sunset also meant another thing - the Fondoni gardens food market came alive. Mainly a seafood market but filled with other culinary delights and the perfect dinner stop. Being a seasoned seafood lover I found the tandoori lobster surprisinly questionable and the scallops were like hardened rubber but the shark was amazing as well as the fresh sugar cane juice. The market is a feast for the nose but it can be a bit of a hit or miss for the other senses. Also like us you may think 13000tsh (~£5) is a good deal for two seafood kebabs but realistically 5000tsh (£1.99) is the local price. Alas, your eyes will always be impressed!

On the Tanzanian mainland there were hundreds of stray dogs but on Zanzibar there were hundreds of stray cats and kittens - apparently descended from those that were on cargo ships to control the rats. After dinner Muskim was taking us to "a really cheap liquor store" as promised but only after attempting three ATMs and experiencing several card swallowing scares - apparently it is common for ATMs in Zanzibar to just break on the weekend. We all went a bit crazy having been away from the toddy considering we were actually only drinking for two nights. For the first time a drive wasn't accompanied by sleeping and instead by nostalgic 90's music where we realised how young Craig and Stuart are.

Our hotel was called Kendwa Rocks and was made up of a group of bungalows that seemed pretty secluded on the beach but realistically there were a bunch of resorts all along the coast. Apparently we didn't get the rooms we paid for but this holiday had put me off luxury as I would just feel guilty now - so I was perfectly happy with what we had! There was a bar on the beach showing the Olympic's Opening ceremony which was in London and as soon as everyone else clicked on to the fact we were from the UK they aimed their looks of confusion at us - only to have them sent right back. I was wanting to stay up and see my dear Federer carry the flag for Switzerland but by the time it got to Laos it was already 3am so I headed off to bed - but not until a quick dip in the sea!

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