Snorkelling and chillin

Trip Start Dec 19, 2008
Trip End Dec 19, 2009

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday 10th August. After a woefully disorganised brekky where we got coffee last and the odd bit of toast but no utensils till we asked we packed and went for a walk in the old Stonetown area and found the House of Wonders now a museum. This amazing 3 story high colonial building( the largest old building in East Africa) was a former palace of the Ottoman Sultan and a British government centre in the past. The museum displayed a reasonable exhibition of Zanzibar's history and cultures which was very mixed with African, Arabic, Indian and other seafarers settled here in the 19th century. The mixture of Islamic religion with the African beliefs made for an interesting mixture. The views from the roof over Stonetown seeing the mosques’ minarets as well as churches and Hindu temples was fascinating against the turquoise ocean. The buildings were made from crushed coral forming lime and so were white but with decay grey and black aging and newer buildings made with concrete were collapsing around the town. This gives Stonetown a strange decrepit look with its Arabic style windows and arches crumbling away. After our wanderings it was really hot so we returned to the hotel where a group of us were getting a minibus up to the northern beaches. We arrived after an hour and a half delay leaving around 4pm and found our prebooked accommodation was right on a most beautiful beach area called Kwenda. The sand was white and the water brilliant turquoise with fishing boats called Dhows sailing along- a postcard picture at every turn. Our room was a double with bathroom so for 2 nights was great as we literally walked out of the room and were on the beach in 2 minutes. The area was well catered for with a few bars and restaurants. We arranged a snorkelling trip for the next morning by boat. We were in the same hotel as our Spanish friends and Kim and her French male friend ( who had travelled to Zanzibar as well yesterday) were in a better hotel next door so we all met up for sunset drinks. At the bar we watched the sun set on the Indian ocean which was very pretty and very fast, once the sun hits the water it gets dark really fast. I could see the Southern Cross in the sky which I always find reassuring as I had missed it in the northern hemisphere .Makes me feel less far from home which is silly as we are still so far away. There were lots of locals selling artworks and carvings in the little beach stalls but they were not hassling much so was a pleasant place to stay. We slept well after watching a DVD on the rooms TV which had no reception but someone had left a horror collection DVD in the machine so we enjoyed some free movies.

Tuesday 11th August. Our snorkelling trip was a full day trip so we set off in the old boat around 10am and sailed up to the more popular Nungwi beach area and picked up snorkelling gear. It is a busier area so we were glad to be staying in a more chilled out beach spot. We sailed on the boat for about an hour and a half and anchored near an island which is the marine reserve. There were about 20 passengers on the boat and Wayne was first in the water as was feeling a bit seasick and getting wet is the remedy. The snorkelling was stunning as the fish life was prolific and so so colourful. The tropical fish we in numerous colour and the coral was beautiful on the reef with purple corals and rainbow coloured fish. Also I saw red and bright blue long legged starfish. We spent about an hour in the water and the sailed to another island spot where we had lunch of BBQ’d fresh tuna and rice with some fruit. Very nice. It was scorchingly hot by midday and all were protecting themselves from the sun with varying degrees of success as most got some sunburn somewhere. I got my thighs burnt as neglected to sunscreen the behind areas. It turns out that being on Doxycycline for malaria prevention makes you more susceptible to the sun so many including us burned more easily. After lunch we headed back to our beach but the trip against the current was very slow and hot. We passed lots of fishing boats heading out for the afternoons fishing. This was a wonderful day out but a second snorkel would have been perfect as we only had the morning snorkel time. Back at the beach at 4pm we lazed about till drinks at sunset and dinner. We planned to spend the day on the beach chilling tomorrow till we get our bus back to Stonetown for our last night on Zanzibar. The local people are very friendly and very relaxed. There are a lot of Rastas up here too easily identifiable by their dreads and crocheted hats.

Wednesday 12th August. We had a small sleep in and were packed after breakfast and wandered down to sit on lounges under the shady thatch roofed shelters. On arriving at the beach Wayne realised he did not have his camera bag and in fact it was last remembered being in the bar last night after taking sunset photos!!!!! Wayne sprinted to the bar on instantly realising this. I sat and calculated it was gone and we would need to go to the police and report it stolen. He returned 5 minutes later with the bag intact. The bar waiter seeing it on the chair after we left to go to another restaurant for dinner had put it behind the bar. So So lucky and so grateful Wayne gave the man a large tip for his caring for the camera. It was an honourable thing to do as this equipment would have been worth 3 or more years salary to the local person on Zanzibar. After this excitement we spent a day in the shade reading and resting and swimming before taking our bus back to Stonetown at 5pm.Leaving behind Kim and Bertrand we hugged goodbye as they were staying on in Zanzibar for another week. We loved hanging with them and Kim is the brash and full on life of the party type of girl who spoke in the 3 languages of Spanish, French and English with us all and then even translated the Italians’ conversations of the hoards of daytripping Italians on the beach. In Stonetown we stayed again at the Karibou Inn on the 3rd floor with a minute sea view out the tiny top floor window.. We met Angel and Mercedes at 7.30pm for dinner but as they never eat early we had drinks at the African Hotel bar again and then wandered back to near our hotel for a lovely Indian dinner knowing it was back to camp food from tomorrow.
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