Trip Start Aug 31, 2005
77Trip End Aug 25, 2006
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A full day on rough roads and a ferry from the border to Mwanza. Then, the worst journey so far, a 30 hour bus ride across the country over dusty roads. We thought that we were sorted at the beginning of the journey - we had wrangled our way into the two best seats on the bus (at the front), the bus was full but not crowded, and we were told that we would be stopping for the night at the capital city of Dodoma.
Things turned to bad two hours into the journey when we stopped to pick up passengers from a broken down bus. We now had two bus loads of passengers on a bus built for one. They were everywhere - crammed in the aisles and behind the bus driver, and, all over us. Our comfortable seat for two now had 5 of us sharing it - Kirsty, myself, a mother and her baby and a 10 year old boy. Not surprisingly, our already rundown bus wasn't having any of it. Half an hour later a crackle went through the bus and we started swaying dangerously. It turned out the tyre had burst. We limped into the nearest town and the tyre was changed, and what do you know? All two bus loads then piled back onto the bus again. Not surprisingly, another half an hour into the journey, another explosion rocked the bus as the next tyre exploded. You would have thought they would have learnt their lesson at this stage, but no, the tyre was changed and we all boarded the bus again! This time we went a lot slower (no spare tyres left on board) and limped along the road. Meanwhile, Kirsty and I were cramped in our seats, hot and tired as night quickly approached. Things reached breaking point when the mother threw her baby at me to hold (she was sick of it at this stage) and the baby decided to piss all over me (babies don't have the luxury of nappies in Africa...). But toughened travellers that we are, took it all in our stride and somehow survived the night (and another exploding tyre) as we crept into Dar Es Saalam.
We arrived exhausted into the bus station 11 km out of town at 12.00 the next day and got a taxi and sped to the port for the 12.30 ferry across to Zanzibar. We made it by the skin of our teeth, spent the first half an hour wiping the dirt from our faces from the bus journey and then fell into an exhausted sleep.
First impressions of Zanzibar were GREAT. Zanzibar is a very conservative Muslim society and so there was the smell of spice in the air and lots of colour all around - just what I like! Unfortunately, being a major tourist destination, it was also incredibly expensive for poor backpackers like us! We walked all around town scouting the cheapest place possible ($10 per person), had a much needed shower, and then set about exploring the town (Stonetown) and food.
First stop - the food market where we got piled high plates with seafood and ice-cream in between refusing marriage proposals. The boys of Zanzibar are certainly charming and persistant. One fella abandoned his store and followed us home, insisting that he was in love with me! But all was in good order - the Zanzibarians (? is this a real word?!) were all very well mannered and took rejection well! A friendly wee island really!
The next morning, feeling well relaxed, we decided to partake in a little sea fun. We borrowed some snorkelling equipment, splashed on some sunscreen, and jumped on a dive boat Out to sea (finally!) we went!! And what a BEAUTIFUL sea it was - seriously think of your image of paradise and this was it. Crystal clear waters (just look at the photos if you don't believe me), blue skies and wee islands scattered about.
We jumped straight in the water and then spent 45 minutes snorkelling - loads of fish about and the coral was pretty cool too ("but nothing like the Great Barrier" KIRSTY). Unfortunately it turned out that the sun screen we were using was from a bad batch as we burnt to a crisp out on the water. But, these things happen. We were hurtin', but very glad to have seen some sun'n'water! (Excuse the naked bum photo!)
Later that afternoon, after a few false starts (and the non-appearance of a promised minibus) we hoped in another overly crowded dalla-dalla (pickup truck-shared taxi) and headed north to the beach of Nungwe.
We arrived and felt instantly at home - a backpackers hangout (but with more expensive prices!). We spent the first 3 hours traipsing all over the island trying to do deals on accomodation. We hard-bargained (and smiled) a man down to $10 each for a beach bungalow - as we later found out an extremely good bargain and settled down to enjoying our time in paradise.
We swam, ate and then hung out in one of the best beach bars I have ever seen. Dug out boats, lamps built into the sand, great music, loads of people our age (OK, so I exagerate, not many on the road are as old as us) and dancing South African girls - what more could we want! We chatted to other travellers, made new friends, dodged the girl-hungry-and-want-a-passport-out-of-Africa locals, and enjoyed the night.
The next few days were much of the same. Beach and sun by day, bar and skinny dipping with complete strangers at night. We even met one South African with his Speedo called 'Warren' around his neck on 'the naked boat'! I would go into more detail and post the photos (every episode has got to be recorded!!) but I know that my grandparents are reading this and I wouldn't want to shock them too much! Let me just say that it was great fun!
Oh yes, and we met the COOLEST religious guy I have ever met in Zanzibar. Peter is his name, religion, science, telecommunications, song writing and singing (amongst others) are his game. Our small group of naked-man-Sean, naked-canadian-Amber (remember her from the gorillas in Uganda? She turned up in Zanzibar too!), religious-cool-dude-Peter and Kirsty and I composed songs about our time in Zanzibar (I even have a recording somewhere...) in between food and drink and taking amazing photos of the island. Zanzibar really is a paradise in the true sense of the word!!
But alas, we were already over 3 months into our journey and only had 2 to go and had to move on. I made the executive decision that we would leave paradise and move on for Christmas - to Lake Malawi, the Southern African backpackers favourite.
And so, regretfully, we left Zanzibar on the 8pm ferry on December 22nd, Malawi bound.