Tanga - Zanzibar




Tuesday 29/10/96

Dear Leah,

How are you ? I'm wondering if you've got my last two letters by now, I don't know how long the post takes. I've posted part 4 to Alex today. We are in Tanga in Tanzania - we have been here since Saturday. We thought about going to Pemba Island and then to Zanzibar that way but it seems that the ferry which runs twice a week didn't come on Monday and is unlikely to come tomorrow either, so we will catch a bus to Dar Es Salaam and go to Zanzibar from there. It's not a bad thing as the islands are expensive compared to everywhere else.

We are sitting on our balcony overlooking the harbour at the moment - Rod isn't feeling too well - but says he's not too bad. We went to the bank this morning which took much longer than anywhere else we've been - they make you fill in all sorts of forms and then very slowly pass them around everyone's desk ! We then went for a walk to the shopping area and I bought a tanga, a piece of fabric - most of them have some sort of writing on them - I shall see what else I can get later. They do some brilliant re-cycling in these countries - I've seen them making shoes out of old tyres and today making cooking stoves and bowls out of old tin cans. I've bought a sachet of Omo to do the washing with - there's no water upstairs at this place - and the shower is sort of outside so I go down there and do it and then hang it over chairs on the balcony.

It took me about 3 days to get over my dose of the shits and I'm fine now - I've just had veg curry for lunch - poor Rod had to watch me - but then, when I was ill he kept telling me about the lovely bean curry he had in Malindi.

The next departure from platform 1We also went to the railway station this morning to see if there are any trains to Dar - but it seems not many trains run at all. We went to take some photos of rusty old steam engines as well. Took a picture of a really weird tree on the way back - the trunk was like a mess of tangled roots and there were fruit, like small apples growing off the branches - very odd. We were reading in the guide book about Pemba and it says that Air Tanzania have an office there with very friendly staff - but no planes !!!!

There was no water downstairs when Rod went for a shower - but it came on later. I had a sleep and the washing didn't get done as I'm not sure it will be all dry to pack tomorrow now. Spear came to find us at the hotel - he's dead chuffed with the walkman we gave him for taking us to the caves yesterday - Alex has that story. We went out for a drink with him and gave him some money to buy a drink for him and his girlfriend who he was meeting at 2.30 Tanz time!! which is 8.30. Rod was telling me about this but it was my first experience of it. Because we are almost on the equator daylight remains 12hrs all year round, so the locals count from 6 in the morning. 7 is 1 o'clock and so on until 6 at night when it's dark or nearly, then they start again hence 8.30 = 2.30. Weird or what - but it does make some sense.

Wednesday 30/10/96

Walked to bus station - Rod feeling a lot better. Got tickets to Dar Es Salaam 3500/- each. Spear came to say goodbye to us. Bus journey not very exciting. Got to Dar, got a room at the Jambo Inn which is OK - more expensive but we'd expected that - 8000/-. We walked down to the port to check out the times and prices of boats to Zanzibar. Dar Es Salaam is not an awful place but we'd rather not spend too much time in big cities. You have to be on your guard all the time.

At the port there were loads of ticket touts. To get to Zanzibar tourists have to pay in dollars and much more than the locals. The touts say they can get you a residents ticket - cheaper. We didn't buy one as you have to be so careful here, everyone is after money. When we were walking back a Somali man called Robert came and told us not to buy the tickets from the touts as would loose our money. He was really nice and gave us loads of info. We went back to the hotel and had a really nice curry and bread.

Thursday 31/10/96

Went to the port to get tickets. Met Robert again and went to buy him some breakfast - he is a refugee here with his two children - his wife is in Kenya and he's really struggling. He can't get work and earns a few bob carrying cases for people. He took us around the fish market which I would have loved to take some pictures of, but I didn't like to get the camera out where there is such a lot of obvious poverty. There were fish all laid out to dry on sacking - it stunk! Robert carried my bag to the boat and we gave him some money.

We are now on the boat, it's not a very big boat and it's nearly full and it's rocking quite a lot. We got really drenched before we got on the boat, it has been raining on and off all morning but it's still really hot. The boat has air conditioning which would be great if we weren't wet and wanting to dry off. They have been round with plastic bags in case we get sick - a lot of the African women on the boat don't look too well. We have chosen to come on the slow boat - 4hrs as it was only $10 each plus $5 port tax and the quick boats cost around $40 each. There are a few tourists on here with us but they are mostly up top.

Got to Zanzibar at about 5 o'clock. Went to have our passports stamped - to Rods delight -he's a stamp collector!!! Walked with a 'beach boy' to the Manchi Lodge guesthouse for $14 per night. Not a bad room. Palm trees - Sunset - AhhhWent to watch the sun go down - had an expensive beer on a terrace - got some photo's - palm trees, sunset and dhows - very romantic! Had a walk around town - lots of tourists and tourist shops and hotels - some lovely buildings. Had a meal - not brilliant - but the tourist places are expensive.

Friday 1/11/96

Best breakfast we've had in Africa, a real surprise - bread, pancakes, orange juice and tea spiced with cardamom. Had a shower and then the rain came - we haven't had much since we got to Africa until yesterday in Dar, hopefully it will pass soon as we would like to go to the other side of the island to some beaches and on a 'spice tour'. Zanzibar TownWent for a walk around the old town - masses of small streets - we kept getting lost! Eating is more expensive here - found a reasonable hotel to eat at - then went shopping. It really pee'd down with rain -Street scene in Zanzibar sheltered in a cafe and watched the rain, it was like a river running down the street, my feet got soaked walking back. Bought some pressies that I'm really pleased with, but I'll tell you about them when I get back. Went and had a cup of spiced tea, with cinnamon this time and a piece of spice cake. Came back to the hotel and did the washing and wrote some postcards. Rod chatted to a chap here and arranged for us to go on a tour tomorrow. Went down to the gardens and watched the sun go down again - had a pizza-like thing with veg and egg cooked on a stall outside. There are quite a lot of cats on Zanzibar - they all look thin but OK. There was one with 3 kittens in the gardens - they were really sweet. Went to a bar for a Safari lager.

Saturday 2/11/96

After breakfast, we plus 2 other English people, 1 American and 1 German went on a 'Spice Tour'. Ruins of Harem in ZanzibarWe went to some ruins of a harem with a turkish bath surrounded by palm trees, then we went to a spice shop and bought some spices to give as presents. We then went to see them growing, we saw henna, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, annato (colouring), lychees, bread fruit, jack fruit (which we tasted yesterday - it like a enormous oval conker 18"- 2' long - not very nice to eat - looks like pineapple - but rubbery), vanilla, cardamom, sesame, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, pineapples, bananas, coconuts, chillies (Rod ate one, it was hot - blokes!!), avocado, mangoes, zanzibar apple, and a fruit like star fruit. I took some pics of some of them.

We are now sitting on a beach having had lunch. I missed out again as the rice had lumps of dead animal in it - but I had pineapple and bananas. I'm now sitting in the shade while some of the party have a swim - it's a bit sharp with coral here and you have to watch you don't cut your feet. After writing that the German girl trod on a sea urchin and got about 12 spines in her foot, like you did in Italy. The locals rubbed papaya juice on them and said the spines will just come out after about 4 hours. House in Zanzibar TownGot back to the hotel and had a shower, in the meantime Rod managed to spend all our cash!! We have paid for another night here and also to arrange a taxi to take us to Jambiani where the good beaches are. We will probably stay over there for another couple of days.

I forgot to tell you about the video on the bus from Tanga to Dar Es Salaam. They love these video buses and usually it's African pop music as I've explained before with the fat guy in the suit, but this time we really had a treat - hindi Tarzan. Well you can imagine. Indian films get it all into one movie, they even sang songs from the Sound of Music, you'd have loved it!!

I've sent Rod off to try and get more money for tonight. They have a show on at the old fort in the town. It's African dance and drumming so I thought it would be good but you can never tell in this country. I took some photos of the dancing and tuning the drums with fire. Inside the old fort was nice.

Sunday 3/11/96

Got a taxi after breakfast to Paje, it was the first stop and we decided to take the room. PajeIt's a lovely room, almost on the beach. The beaches on the east coast are amazing, all white sand and palm trees. Went for a swim then had some lunch - back to the room for a siesta. Then we went for a walk along the beach - the shells here are fantastic - I just want to bring them all home but Rod says no - I shall bring a few back - the locals collect the really big ones to sell - but you can find a few broken ones - the small ones are lovely too - all sorts of colours. There are palm trees all along the coast. While we were resting there was a huge crash as a palm leaf came crashing down. They are really big and heavy, they are used for making all sorts of things - mostly roof tiles.

Sat and played bao all evening and had a beer and some chips. Everything is much more expensive here - but still very unspoilt. You can go swimming with dolphins, to a monkey reserve or snorkelling but we can't really afford it - even though it's cheap compared to what you'd pay in Europe.

Monday 4/11/96

Even paradise has its problems. We have no water. After we'd had breakfast the owner came and sorted it out. Then we hired a couple of bikes and cycled to Jambiani, the next village down the coast. We are sitting outside the Horizontal Hotel, having a drink looking over a beautiful blue sea. It's a great place to just do nothing in!! My bike had a flat tyre and the bloke at our village said it was OK so it was hard work. On the way back we got it fixed for 300/- in Jambiani. We cycled a bit further than the village to find food - it was more touristy than our place. We had some veg and rice at the Visitor Inn which was nice.

I kept wanting to collect shells - they're so good here. A bloke on a bike came while we were eating with baskets full of huge shells - they were really great. Torremolinos (not)The beach here is about 12 miles long as far as we can make out. It's beautiful white sand and palm trees, real post card stuff. There's a fair bit of seaweed on the beach which makes it look dirty , but it isn't. they have seaweed beds out to sea, where they sort of catch it on string between sticks.

The sea is very shallow right out to the coral reef and you can stand up easily even when the tide is in. When we got back we decided to go for a swim but the tide was out so we ended up going for a long walk in the water. We were walking on our hands as we got further out as there was a fair bit of broken coral on the bottom which you can see really clearly. I managed to cut my hand - not too badly - Rod says I'm a woozy!! Came back and had a shower and a rest and then chips and beer and bao.

We are almost the only people here - so it's very quiet. Sea ViewThe beach was almost empty today and we were the only people in the sea. People cycle and use cars and motorbikes along the beach because it's better than the road!! There were a few local kids about all saying 'jambo' and then 'pen for school' or 'money' or '$5 dollar picture'!!! They all ask all the time, but they are fine really. It would be good to give them all something but you can't, it would be never ending.

Tomorrow we get a taxi back to Zanzibar town, change some more money and then head off the next day back to Dar Es Salaam. The plan is to spend one night there and then head off to Mbeya which is a long bus ride - it's on the border with Malawi. Everyone says Malawi is lovely and also cheap, which will make up for here, which is also cheap, but just above our budget really.

I shall finish this tonight and do the next one for Alex again. Hope you are OK and working hard. I'm missing you loads but having a good time, you won't recognise me when I get home, I think I'm the brownest I've ever been. Ted sends his love, he's having a great holiday.