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    • Day32

      Boxing Day in Stonetown, Zanzibar

      December 26, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

      I got up early and packed my things for an early trip back to the historical Stone Town in Zanzibar. My foot was still getting the odd twinge of pain which I will have to put up with for a while. We got on the coach and headed back across Zanzibar through small towns and villages of breeze block and tin roofed houses and people waking up for another hot day's work. The Zanzibar countryside was green and lush after an unusual amount of rain which, luckily, we didn't see in Nungwi. Banana plants coated the roadsides for the whole length of our journey with palm trees rising up behind them. As we headed south it began to shower with rain, but by the time we returned to the agricultural university to complete our spice tour, the heavens had opened into a downpour. We were able to taste various fruits such as star fruit (very sour), passion fruit (texture of snot), jack fruit (mild sweet taste), pink grapefruit (sweet and delicious) and an orange. Next we tried herbal teas such as lemon grass tea which was lovely but ruined for me when they mixed it with vanilla. We also had masala tea which was lovely and spicy with the heat of ginger in it. We were also given a peanut type cake made with raw cane sugar which had a slightly unpleasant burnt taste to me. Then we watched one of the local men climb a coconut tree, performing some acrobatics about 20 metres up while also singing the proverbial Swahili song 'Jambo Wana' which has become a bit of an 'ear worm' on this trip - once you hear it, it goes around your head continually until you fall asleep. We then tasted the coconut milk fresh from a coconut which was lovely and apparently the hangover cure I needed yesterday. We also tried the coconut flesh which I found a bit tasteless and enjoyed less. Fortunately, the heavy rain that seems to fall more on the interior of the island than on the coasts, had abated by the time we got back on the bus to Stonetown.
      We checked in at the Safari Lodge Hotel in one of the warren of small backstreets that make up Stonetown. The hotel had an Arabic feel to it. Our local guide, Patrick, showed us around the town in the port area where there is an old fort built in the 1700s by invading Omani Arabs. He showed us where the food night market happens and the 'House of Wonders' where the first electric lighting in the whole of East Africa was installed by the sultan, We then had lunch in an Indian restaurant and then did some exploring. We visited the fort which has now been turned into an area for selling arts and crafts. It has an outdoor theatre. The tourist information centre is also situated in the entrance and the helpful member of staff told us about the ornate doors carved in wood without hinges and with metal domed spikes in the door. He explained that these were Indian style doors and the spikes would keep the elephants out in Imdia. There are also Arabic style carved doors in Zanzibar. We also visited the local music school who were putting on a concert of traditional Zanzibar music that evening. We then returned to the hotel to rest and get some respite from the intense heat of the Zanzibar sun. Stonetown is definitely a town of faded past glories, with the exception of the old fort, its buildings are in a very dilapidated state and the town is clearly very poor. I was perhaps expecting the legendary Stonetown of hundreds of years ago rather than the town of today.
      After a well needed rest and a cold shower, we headed out to find the old slave market museum situated where there is now an Anglican cathedral. It was about 4.30pm and the narrow streets were bustling with people and children returning from work and school. We walked past mosques with men chanting and praying. It was a fascinating assault to my senses as the Islamic people and culture are so different than in the west. We eventually found the old slave market and were given a informative tour of it by a helpful guide. He explained the horrific history of the slave trade in Zanzibar where 10000 slaves per day were sold in the market and twice a week. They forcibly removed from countries across East and West Africa and transported in horrendous conditions, often dying of disease or thirst on the journey or the packed boats. If they made it to Zanzibar they were kept chained in small chambers up to 50 per chamber all lying on top of each other. They had to toilet in a channel that was washed out by the tide. They also had to throw the bodies of those that died in there over three days with no water or food, into the same ditch to be washed into the sea. Those that survived that were chained to the 'whipping post's where they were wiped to see who were whipped to see who were the strongest and would fetch the highest price. The slave market was overseen and promoted by the Omani sultan and slaves were shipped to the Middle East. The men were often castrated to prevent them having offspring. The women were often raped and of they became pregnant they were killed to prevent them having the child. An Anglican bishop began buying the slaves to free them in the late 1800s which put him in conflict with the sultan who wanted the trade to continue. The bishop enlisted the Bristish navy to force the sultan to bring in the abolition of legal slavery in 1873. However, the trade continued illegally on a nearby island until 1909. An Anglican cathedral was built with the altar on the site of the 'whipping post' to commemorate the atrocities that occurred there for over 400 years. There was also a powerful sculpture in the grounds by a Swedish sculptor showing the African slaves in a chain that was originally used to real slaves. The museum gave more information about the trade. The whole experience was very upsetting but also important to see and learn about. We thanked our guide and gave him a good tip. Later, a very dapper old Zanzibar man with a big smile and declaring himself as looking like the actor Morgan Freeman, showed us some other aspects of the slave trade and said that he had been the guide of the Archbishop of Canterbury on his visit to the Anglican cathedral in 2007 - he was a great character and it was good to meet him at that point to lift our darkened mood.
      The heat and humidity was stifling as the evening approach and I bought a coke to try and quench my thirst and alleviate my dehydration from constant sweating. We walked through more narrow local streets to find our way to a rooftop bar overlooking the sea where we met our fellow travellers for a drink. I had absolutely no appetite for an evening meal due the heat. We walked over the the 'night market's which sets up every evening to sell food from many food stalls near the port area. It was buzzing with local people and life. I managed to buy a 'pizza' of prawns, avocado, onions and assorted vegetables which was then pan fried more like capatti than a pizza. It was tasty but I struggled to force it down due to my lack of appetite. Lauren and rushed across to the school of music as we were already late for the performance of traditional music by the students of the college. We were met by a bright young man who studied music at the college and dreamed of continuing his studies in London. He showed us to where the performance was happening and we sat down on steps as most of the chairs were already taken. The traditional Zanzibar music had a strong Islamic influence and was wonderful to watch and listen to. Two female singers performed in turns with a band of maybe ten players on traditional instruments played behind. One of the women singers was a wonderful singer and a quite mesmerisingly confident performer, bringing members of the mainly white, tourist audience up to the front to dance with her. As the music continued, the more I felt immersed in the musical style and cultural roots from which it comes. It was a wonderful experience and both Lauren and I were very happy we made the effort to go to it. Despite my early disappointment at the worn and faded glory of Stonetown, as the day progressed, I appreciated more and more the fascinating and vibrant islamic culture of the place. We returned to hotel, slightly relieved that we had managed to find it through the warren of streets, and I got another cold shower and settled down for a difficult sleep under the mosquito net, in the oppressive Zanzibar heat, the ceiling fan whirrimg and my foot twinging with an urchin spine stabbing pain every time I turned over.
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    • Day22

      Zanzibar Spice Farm

      February 21, 2018 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      Once upon a time, Zanzibar was known as Spice Island. The spice farm is a project to maintain that history. They grown pretty much everything from nutmeg to pepper to lemongrass to vanilla, cumin, coriander and more. The last slide is Mr. Butterfly who climbs a palm tree in the traditional African manner. He served us all coconuts, from the milk to the meat. And he sang a song welcoming each nationality, using both Swahili and the various other languages.Read more


      hey I can do that ;)

    • Day10

      10. Tag Spice Tour

      September 27, 2016 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

      Ca. 20 Minuten Fahrt Richtung Norden erreichten wir eine Art Gewürzmuseum unter freien Himmel. Das Inselinnere von Sansibar ist ein riesiger botanischer Garten, in dem alle nur erdenklichen tropischen Früchte und Gewürze gedeihen. Sansibar wird auch als die Gewürzinsel bezeichnet.

      Es war ganz interessant. Die einzelnen Pflanzen waren beschriftet und man durfte riechen, schmecken und fühlen. Es roch alles viel intensiver als zu Hause. Besonders der frische Zimt, was ja im Prinzip nur Rinde ist, die zum trocknen gerollt wird. Auch sehr intensiv war das Zitronengras und Muskat. Es gab außerdem noch Kaffee (Rustica), Pfeffer, Basilikum, Chili, Ingwer, Kurkuma, Vanille, Nelken u.v.m. Neben den essbaren Gewürzen gab es noch Parfum und Seifen aus Yasmin und Aloe Vera. Man konnte das alles natürlich auch kaufen. Entweder direkt beim offiziellen Verkäufer oder heimlich etwas günstiger bei den Typen, die uns die Gewürzpfanzen zeigten. Wir entschieden uns für das zweite. Das war lustig. Ich kam mir vor, als ob ich heimlich Drogen kaufen würde. Dabei waren es nur zwei kleine Fläschchen Parfum.
      Am offiziellen Stand hab ich dann noch Zimt, Muskat und Chili gekauft. Vorallem die Muskatnüsse waren preislich hier deutlich günstiger als zu Hause.

      Nach der Gewürztour gab es eine kleine Show von "Butterfly". Es war ein echt witziger Typ, der eine bestimmt 20 Meter hohe Palme hoch geklettert ist und daraus eine riesen Show gemacht hat. Mich hat es aber eher an einen Affen, als an einen Schmetterling erinnert. Am Ende hat er jedem eine Kokosnuss aufgeschlagen. Die Kokosnüsse waren aber noch zu jung. Unsere gefundene hat intensiver geschmeckt. Die "Show" kann man sich auch bei YouTube anschauen, um einen Eindruck zu bekommen.

      Danach freuten wir uns auf unser Mittagessen. Wir haben eine Vegetarierin in unserer Reisegruppe und deshalb schon vorab gefragt was es geben wird. Es hieß, dass für jeden etwas dabei ist und es ein Buffet gibt. Ich stellte mir die verschiedensten Gerichte, gewürzt mit alldem was die Insel hergibt, vor. Schließlich sind wir auf einer Gewürzinsel und das Buffet hat pro Person 7$ gekostet.

      Wir saßen schließlich alle zusammen auf dem Boden und vor uns wurden die Töpfe serviert. Es gab traditionell Reis, selbstgemachte Pommes, Auberginen in einer Art Kokussoße und Fisch. Alex hat kurzer Hand beschlossen nicht mitzuessen, weil er ein paar Magenprobleme hat und weil es ihm zu teuer war, als er sah was es gab. Den Fisch konnte ich nach dem morgendlichen Besuch auf dem Fischmarkt nicht anrühren. Die Kartoffeln/Pommes waren nicht gesalzen, der Reis war fad, und die Auberginen waren auch nicht gewürzt. Außerdem war alles etwas verkocht. Meiner Meinung nach sind die 7$ völlig übertrieben. Ich war enttäuscht. Die Idee mit einem Buffet nach der Spicetour ist super, aber die Umsetzung hat nicht so gut funktioniert. Irgendwie wurden die Gewürze vergessen...
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