Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on the way to Zanzibar.
This visit happened in 2010 but was left out when the book was published so I will launch 2011 with some of my favorite images from any journey so far.
Zanzibar should really be shared. I like to travel alone—but only part of the time—and today wasn’t one of those times. Well, not true in the beginning. As I walked in the warm dawn light the few blocks along the waterfront to my Zanzibar ferry I felt quite adventurous and proud of myself. On the ferry I sat outside with the wind blowing my face, sun light-tipping the water and hardly any tourists about which always makes me feel good.
Okay so I’m a little homesick. Still how awful can life be when you land in Zanzibar and stop for spiced coffee (odd to say the least) and mango crumble at Freddie Mercury’s bar and restaurant. He’s from Zanzibar it seems. I had him confused with Freddy Fender for a moment who was NOT the lead singer in Queen. Oh well, I was sitting outside looking over a bay of interesting boats with a few hours ahead to wander aimlessly.
First, Zanzibar’s Stone Town is not an atypical beach town in some ways—a more than average number of funky restaurants, souvenir stands, inviting waterfront walkways and green spaces but there the similarities end. Zanzibar was a critical trading post, ruled over, among others by the Sultans of Oman and the British. The mosques and grand homes of the Arab traders are well-preserved (Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site) and put to interesting uses with surprises all along the winding and narrow streets.
I am reading two books about Zanzibar, one The Sultan’s Shadow (Christiane Bird) about the Omani family at the heart of all Zanzibarian affairs for many generations. The Sultan was Said Al Busaidi and he had a wayward daughter, Salme, who is the central character in the book. I was wildly excited to find the Sultan’s Palace near the beginning of my walk. It was a delicious feeling…like falling asleep while reading and waking up IN THE STORY. Spent much time there.
A palace living room.
The other book is Zanzibar by Giles Foden who also wrote The Last King of Scotland. Unfortunately I am through with neither…work got in the way there for awhile. Now I’m leaving for Rwanda to which I am carrying these two unfinished books!
About books. My second big discovery was a really great bookstore! They’re everywhere it seems! Of course I lingered a very long time and left with quite a large bag of books. Not terribly smart since I have one country to go. But I have no control so I pay dearly with my back and shoulders as my suitcases gather weight.
Finished my day with a nice Zanzibar dish. Intentionally (I think) half-cooked vegetables with a great tomato and onion based sauce—which I usually hate but somehow this ‘Spice Island’ does seem to make what I don’t like in Italian food quite delicious in Zanzibar. No damn oregano maybe. And a Kilimanjaro beer.
Okay, I guess the day wasn’t so bad! But I did feel lonely all day. Missed my sons actually. They’re nice travelers and they love food and would have carried the book bag for me.
Now I must pack…I’m having another Kilimanjaro and bag of Lays potato chips for dinner. It is so damn exotic out here on the road.
Sorry. This is sort of a quickly put-together effort. I am tired.