Sand and Scuba in Zanzibar

Tanzania Pt. 3
As I traveled through Northern Tanzania I made the decision that a trip to Madagascar would be far too expensive and troublesome to make. The compromise I made was to visit the island of Zanzibar, the ‘zan’ in Tanzania and famous for being a center of the spice trade. I also made the choice to extend my trip for an extra month. I still wanted to see as many countries as I could afford while I was still in Africa.
The whole island is surrounded by the beautiful clear waters of the Indian Ocean. So to get there after a ten hour bus ride from Arusha meant hopping on a ferry. My stay at a hotel near the harbor was nice and early in the morning a taxi driver met and took me to buy a ticket for the ferry. The person standing behind me in line happened to have a backpacker’s bag on and we struck up a conversation. She was a clinical psychologist from Australia taking a few months off to travel through Africa. Her trip had already included Rwanda, Uganda, a safari or two, and a full hike of Kilimanjaro. After a ride across the sea to Old Stone we decided to head over to a part of the island called Paju. I would end up spending a few days on the beach looking out at the Indian Ocean. I can honestly say there is very little to report outside of the first day after arriving. That first day was when the Australian woman and I walked over to a local S.C.U.B.A. diving shop and ended up on a tour two hours later. Here I was getting my first diving lesson (in English) in the open ocean off Zanzibar and around the coral reef. I like to think I held my own during the class. Some moments caused me problems, especially with the mask not fitting well and making two dives in one day without being in great physical fitness. Even while learning how to breathe calmly underwater, we were able to see sting rays, lion fish, eels, and other sea life living around the reef. Hard to concentrate on everything at once, but completely worth it!
Over the next few days, I sat around the hostel, which was made of huts just off the beach, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. I had met a couple from South Africa right when I was checking into the hostel had let me know of some places to visit when I got back to Johannesburg. And the woman working at the hostel helped to find a place to stay in Stone Town once I headed back. Otherwise, I was walking out into the ocean as far as possible at low tide, which gets really low without the confines of the lagoon made by the reef, writing down my thoughts and memories of my trip, and filling up on food that I had not been able to have for over a month. Gaining energy from food and sun, I was recharged soon after.
It was time to head out back to South Africa and figure out the last few weeks of my trip. First I needed to go into Stone Town on Zanzibar to catch a flight. Stone Town itself has an interesting history as a center of trade between India, East Africa, the Middle East, and later Europe. The markets there are still full of delicious things and I took some time to buy some spices and coffees to take home, along with a jersey, AC Milan of course, for a ridiculously cheap price.
Unfortunately, Zanzibar’s markets did not only sell foods and clothes. I found out the last public slave market was operational in Zanzibar all the way up until 1873. There are no remnants of the markets left, but an Angelican church in Stone Town has a sort of memorial to the people who were sold off into servitude. It was a heavy and disheartening way to end a great trip in a beautiful country, though, I could not but help feel frustrated that this small island still had information about the slave trade in an actual museum where as the U.S. did very little to share the same information about how slaves were taken, sent, and abused as of when I had left. What does that say about a nation when it will not educate it’s own people about the very nature of the major part of the economy for nearly 400 years? Hopefully things will have changed by the time I get back to the U.S.


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