I could live on Zanzibar…except for the beef.

Posted: 20/08/2011 in Africa

Beautiful Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Children

The last 5 days have been absolute bliss as I’ve relaxed on the beautiful island of Zanzibar. Funny, I’d never considered Africa to have beautiful beaches even though I know Mauritius is part of Africa. We caught a local ferry from a place near our accommodation to the business district and we certainly stood out as the only white people around. While negotiating a taxi ride locals were staring and at one point I became the photographed rather than the photographer. We then caught a 2 hour ferry to the island and once again negotiated a taxi in scary stone town. Robberies at knife point are commonplace here and our nerves weren’t eased at all when our taxi driver pulled over and asked us to change taxis because there was something wrong with his. Uh huh sure! It was all good though. We arrived at Amaan bungalows safely and I immediately upgraded to a room on the water. I felt as if I were living inside a postcard, aqua blue water lapping underneath my balcony with blue sky and scattered fluffy white clouds. My description even sounds cliche but it was exactly that! The only other thing I have to say about the accommodation is there was a BED, SHOWER, NORMAL TOILET AND LATTES! It was the sweetest thing.

After 2 weeks of early starts and long days it was nice to just relax and walk along the beach. What made it special though were the locals, they are a friendly, happy people. The first morning we were astounded to see how far out the tide had gone out (Zanzibar has a 4 metre tide). This exposed shallow rock pools and the local women and children were out in large numbers collecting shellfish and other seafood from the pools. Others were cleaning rugs and the men were working on their marooned boats and fixing fishing nets. It is a predominately muslim area and the women here wear the most exquisite mix of colours. With the cornflower blue sky and aqua water as a backdrop, the scene was a photographers dream. The colour, the activity, the location and the culture all rolled into one. I went for a long walk along the beach one day leaving the touristy area for the local fishing village. It was lovely to just chat and photograph people in their own environment without the distraction of tourism. And they love Australia, “kangaroo land”.

While in Zanzibar we went to nmemba island for some diving and snorkelling. The reef had an abundance of marine life and I was able to see most of nemo’s friends although I couldn’t speak whale. It was very choppy and the current really strong. At times I’d bring my head up to see nothing but large waves either side of me blocking the view of anything else, even the boat. Bit scary!

Zanzibar is a seafood lovers paradise, in certain areas anyway. In places like stone town the fish is spoiled but still served and unsold cooked fish re-cooked the next day. Tasty times! Great place to get a nice dose of salmonella which kind of sounds like a type of seafood. I don’t like seafood at all but the boys do and on the first night our restaurant was a seafood one who also “did beef and chicken”. Lots of places “do” certain dishes but that doesn’t mean they know how to cook it. According to the boys the seafood was divine but I’m not sure the chefs actually knew what a cow was let alone how to cook it. It was the single worst piece of beef I’ve ever had. I’m yet to have a really good piece of beef or lamb but considering where I am I have nothing to complain about. Having said that, Tony….shaslicks when I come home? Many of the restaurants are actually outside on the sand; there’s nothing like casual dining to the sound of lapping waves (and biting malaria filled mosquitos and noisy generators because the power has gone out again), seriously though it’s beautiful. Our last night was by far the best. Some of the local boys gave us a beach BBQ. Fire, guitar, perfect weather, barbecued fish and for me some marinated beef which was actually not too bad, laughter and good company. I really appreciated the effort they went to. Zanzibar was a relaxing paradise but it’s time to move on again.

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