It was a bit of a shock for us to get off the ferry in Stonetown and see so many white tourists walking around, but then this was our holiday within our holiday!
Stonetown is a great place just to wander around, get lost in the tiny, winding streets, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the nightly food market and even take a boat trip to see some giant tortoises. The whole island smells of cabbage, the giant tortoise’s favourite food or maybe the latest, unknown aphrodisiac, as we were treated to two giant tortoise sex shows. I could have done without seeing this spectacle in my life, but our boat captain was very keen and kept telling me to film the unusual scene before us! I didn’t, I can’t be sure about Dave. Much more pleasant was holding a couple of the babies, and seeing a giant tortoise who is 191 years old – I hope they have a big party for this old boy’s 200th birthday!
We headed North to explore the beautiful, white sandy beaches of Nungwi – so stunning they looked too good to be true! We stayed in a hotel run by Rastas, they were great guys and encouraged such a relaxed atmosphere.
Take me back to a hammock on the beach under the baking sun of Zanzibar, listening to the wonders of Bob Marley!
Dave did get a bit of a shock when he came back to our room to find a sealed bread roll opened and the crust had been completely gnawed off. He looked up to find a very fat and happy rat looking at him from a hole in the thatched roof. I’m sure the rats at the Rasta hotel’s nearest neighbor, the mighty Hilton, are nowhere near as greedy!
It is sad to see that as soon as you leave the beach, directly behind the huge, fancy resorts, is a very basic Nungwi village. The houses are extremely small, some do not have a roof at all and when it rained the dirt tracks were completely flooded, having to walk through shin deep water. The children’s playground was a huge pile of dirty rubbish. Saying that the people were so friendly and we found a very happy tailor to make us some African hippy trousers – Dave just looks like he is walking around in his pajamas!
We took a snorkeling trip to an island owned by Bill Gates (apparently), but we mere mortals are not allowed to walk on the actual island, simply swim around it. After we had had a snorkel around the coral, stalked some Moorish Idols and swam through schools of colourful fish; it was time for barbeque fish on the beach – one not belonging to Bill Gates. On the boat trip back to our new ratty roommate we were lucky enough to see a school of dolphin! It was such an unexpected treat to see at least 20 dolphins playing and leaping in unison from the water. I had seen this sight on TV, but in real life it is something else – they are such graceful creatures, barely displacing the water as they move! Everyone on the boat was silent as we watched, only interrupted by the occasional ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’.
Another new experience for us was our transport back to Stonetown. The locals had converted a pickup truck by adding a roof and bench seating, then squeezing more people more people than physically possible in the back of the truck. As a backpacker we can’t always travel in 1st class luxury!