Friday, September 12, 2008

Karibu Zanzibar

Karibu is Swahili for 'welcome,' and people say it all over Tanzania and in Zanzibar, too. it says a lot about the culture, how welcoming and helpful everyone is, which is especially surprising on an island which, 150 years ago, trafficked something like 40,000 slaves a year.
yes, zanzibar is known for its history of being the largest slave port from Africa during Sultan rule. We visited the area - now a gigantic cathedral - that served as the slave market. Creepy.
I am writing from our hotel - the Dhow Palace - in Stone Town - the hub of the island, full of ancient walls, forts, buildings and narrow, narrow streets and paths, all frequented by Muslims, the women decked out in head to toe black, passing by and watching you through their narrow eye slits. All the men who pass on janky bikes all say Jambo (the greeting which literally means, 'how are you?'), and some try to sell you spices and whatever they have, but they're not too persistent.
we walked around town mesmerized all day. there are far more tourists here than in Dar (but, in the scheme of tourist locations, not THAT many. look at a globe. Zanzibar is an island off the coast of East Africa. There are mainly African people here and we white people are definitely the minority). We just had a drink and watched the sunset from one of the super swank hotels on the beach.
Our hotel is probably the swankest place i've ever paid to stay in - the Arabic decor is everywhere - complete with raised beds with Sultan-like mosquito netting. Even in our tent in the jungle, Karin commented that sleeping under a mosquito net makes her feel like a princess.
Princesses probably really slept in the beds at this place.
Lucky for you all (and by 'you all' I mean, mom. If anyone is reading my blog, give a shout out. Don't be afraid to comment) I jumped on the one computer here, as Karin and I need to print out our tickets to Arusha - the next leg of our journey.
We are staying two more nights in Zanzibar, though, heading north tomorrow to stay in a bungalow on the beach and go snorkeling, etc.
Amazing how quickly one can arrange for transport around here. Cab drivers are crawling all over each other to lend you their services and the guy who took us to the hotel from the ferry asked if we were going north, we said yes, arranged a price that was $15 cheaper than we were expecting to pay (this is BY FAR the most expensive vacation i've ever taken, by the way. so much for my life savings, and so much for most of the country's inhabitants going around without shoes. who's getting all this money, anyway?), and we've got him all lined up to meet us at the hotel after breakfast. Easy.
So - we're off for a swahili dinner - pillows on the floor for seats and local music. Catchya...


Lindsey Zouein said...

Yo Shauna, it's Linds, and I am very faithfully reading your blog, and I would say, at times, hanging on your words. Thanks for making us (hello, Internet!) a part of your fantastic journey. I especially liked the story about the lions. The diversity of your experiences is amazing ... from safari to Arabian princess accomodations ... can't wait to read the next installment. See you, friend.

Alex Miller said...

Sounds ca-razy! Hope you're having a great time Shauna!

Alex Miller said...

PS: It's snowing in Frisco!

Mom said...

Another blog, i.e., connection to your journey--I'm always so happy when a new date is posted. I share your adventure and am loving every word. Keep your fans in the loop! (Hope Karin is feeling well.) Love you and so proud!