about us     our travels     other stuff    home    
Beer and Biryani :: The Travelling Adventures of Matt & Donna  
The Carved Wooden Doors of Stone Town
JULY 21, 2007

The Cyclone has Landed

On the 16th July 2007, Cyclone Andrew arrived in Tanazania off the shores of Zanzibar. As usual nothing seems to run smoothly with my brother, Andrew's holidays and why should a trip to Africa be any different. Ten minutes after we had hired a taxi to take us to the airport to pick Andrew up, he called to say he had been delayed in Nairobi and would be an hour late. Sitting in the taxi we tried to explain this to our driver (booked to take us all the way north to Kendwa), who thought we were talking instead about the cars passing us up the footpath. In the end we gave up trying to explain the delay and decided to play dumb with him and wait it out at the airport.

Thanks to a cancelled connecting flight in Bangkok, when Andrew finally arrived, it was with no Baggage. With all things being African we filled in the paperwork not expecting to see them again, and manged to get out of Zanzibar International Airport only two hours behind schedule.

Mohammed our driver was a happy fellow who, although he had fairly poor English, was happy to jabber away in a variation of Swahili and Arabic for the one hour drive north through Zanzibar. Along the way we were stopped at all the cursory police check points and, like all good police should be, we were waved through after a couple of thousand shillings changed hands.

At the Kendwa/Nungwi turnoff the road went from moderatly potholed blacktop to a ridiculous attempt at a dirt track. Our taxi was a reasonably new sedan that clearly had not been up this road before or there is no way Mohammed would have acceppted the fare. It took a good hour for us to crawl our way up the 2km track to the township of Kendwa where we were met at the road by Ali. Mohammed was all to happy to drop us off in his care and turn back for the tortuous return journey to Stone Town. Ali walked us through an adjacent hotel, and up the beach to the Les Toits De Palm, a fairly run down backpacker budgetted hotel set right on the beach amid palm trees and beach shacks.

Even though it was only 9pm, Les Toits De Palm was deathly silent, our barman managed to rustle up a couple of cold beers and some half decent spaghetti bolognaise, then we had the place to ourselves.

I would like to say that Andrew settled into the backpacker lifestyle with no problems, unfortunatly his introduction included being given a bed made from a palm tree, a shower with no hotwater, and a breakfast of soggy eggs and unripe mango - such is life on the trail. He was pedantic about the cleanliness of his sheets, yet oddly woke up each morning lying on the bare matress - sheets strewn all around him.

With all things Andrew - we had no time to spare - first thing in the morning we were signed up for some dives down at Scuba Do - Andrew opting for the Advanced Diver Course while Donna and I took the easy way out and opted for three fun reef dives around the island.

The next three days were as laid back as things get with Andrew, we were woken early for a quick bite to eat before heading down to the dive shop. We would do a morning dive, have lunch, and then relax on the beach while Andrew did his afternoon dives. Evenings as you would expect in a resort village were spent on the beach with cheap local beers and fresh food - did I mention the good company?

It's a hard life at KendwaIt's a hard life at Kendwa

Thanks to the diving we centred most of our time around the dive shop. Andrew had to get through six dives to get his Advanced Certificate including his night dive, ironically the instructor - Dixon, was petrified of night dives.

With a schedule to keep there was no time for sitting around soaking up the rays, we bade Tammy and Dixon goodbye at Scuba Do, settled our rather large bar tab at Les Toits De Palm and climbed aboard the mini bus back to Zanzibar. For Andrew's sake we opted for a tourist shuttle rather than a local Dalla Dalla (I don't think mum would have forgiven me if Andrew had died so we could save a few bucks on transport).

At Stone Town we were dopped by the Big Tree from where we wound our way on foot through the maze of streets back to the Pyramid Hotel. Sabiha checked us in and showed us to our triple ensuite room, then it was straight into the maze of streets for some good old fashioned sight seeing.

Donna was complaining about water-logged ears after our last dive - the gradual changes in depth resulting in her not equalising properly. After walking around the streets tapping the side of her head (a little like a crazy women) - we resorted to stopping in at a local Zanzibarian Docter to see if he could help. While Andrew and I were sitting patiently in the waiting room she was escorted into the examination room. The last thing we saw before the door swung closed was the nurse pulling a long syringe and needle out of a plastic packet - Andrew leapt into action, charging into the room to put a stop any crazy witchdoctoring that was about to go on. It turns out they were only using the needle to draw saline solution from a sterile bottle and were not going to shove a sharp needle into her ear.

Donna's Essential Guide to Marketplace Swahili

Jumbo - Hello
Karibu - Welcome
Ahsante Sana - Thank You Very Much
Habari - How are you
M'zoori - Good
Gali Sana - Too Expensive
Sina Pesa - No Money
Ndio - Yes
Hapana - No
Sitake - I don't want

With an afternoon to kill we left Donna sleeping in the hotel room and Andrew and I hit the local bars, ending up at Mercury's on the waterfront. A few quiet beers turned into dinner and a late night.

Andrew joins 'The Hard Life'Andrew joins 'The Hard Life', living the dream baby

The next day, before catching the ferry across to Dar Es Salaam, we joined Mr Mito for his Island Spice Tour. This was a break from our normal routine as we joined the tourist trail for a four hour introduction to the world of spices. Actually, most of the tour was fairly interesting, it became a bit of a farse however when we were all sat down and introduced to some of the fruits grown in the region including banana, orange and apple.

Skipping the afternoon trip out to the beach we picked up our bags from the Pyramid - Andrew said some teary good byes to Sabiha and we ran down to the docks to catch the H.V. Sepidah back to Dar. Getting on board was as we expected - pure and utter maddness. We formed our male and female queues and then everyone pressed forward at once. Using elbows and a large backpack I managed to get onto the boarding ramp, in the process I was nearly tipped over the rail into the Indian Ocean below. Pushing old women out of the way I managed to edge onto the boat and secure some seats at the front. Thankfully Donna and Andrew joined me in one piece.

At Dar we dodged the touts and taxi drivers waiting eagerly at the pier and walked through the city - oddly quiet at dusk on a weekend, and made our way to the Econo Lodge for the evening. Like all parts of the trip so far with Andrew, we did not stay more than five minutes before heading out to buy some bus tickets for the following morning onto Arusha, and then on to Al Barsha for some more cracking Lebanese food.

Back at the Econo Lodge we found out from our guide books that the bus company we had booked with was renowned for it's unsafe driving habits and frequent road accidents, especially on the Dar - Arusha route. With that we decided to get up a little earlier and head down to the Scandanavian Express offices in the hope of snagging a ticket on the first bus out.

Finding success with Scandanavian, the bus ride to Arusha was actually a non-event. Aside from a little random recklessness the locals on the bus all were quite calm throughout the trip. The other whites on the bus would freak out during every death defying overtaking manouver - however we managed to pull into the Arusha Depot in one piece and more amazingly on time and with a free drop off at Arusha Backpackers.

After calling Sunny Safari's to confirm our safari for tomorrow was all ready to go we hit the bar for some food and drinks to celebrate yet another day in Africa.

The cyclone that is Andrew had survived the coast and moved inland...

Click here to see the Zanzibar Photo Gallery (51 photos)

« previous next »

Your Comments

post a comment/question

Post a Comment/Question »

Subscribe to Newsletter Updates | Subscribe to RSS Feed
© Copyright: 2006 Beer & Biryani.com
contact: beerandbiryani@gmail.com

site by: Matthew Thomas | sitemap