A day in Stone Town

October 4th – Day Ten

Inside a house near our hotel in Stone Town.
Inside a house near our hotel in Stone Town

Our last day on Zanzibar and we had a Stone Town walking tour before our journey back to Dar es Salaam. Our guide was again Ali, he of the strange pronunciation and weird humour (imitating Ali G he was ‘Ali T in the bush’ and kept talking about ‘me Julies’). The walking tour took us through local markets and the back streets of Stone Town before heading to a church on the site of the old Zanzibar slave market. The food markets were busy and colourful though we had trouble taking photos. Ali explained that for some reason the locals think we are going to take their photo, digitally remove their clothes and then sell their naked image for profit. This may or may not be the actual reason but shows some of the ignorance that expounds about tourism in counties such as this. Some people were accommodating and we all got shots taken so it wasn’t to bad. We visited a chicken hall, fruit stalls and the meant and fish halls. The heads of cattle, some missing faces, looked particularly appetising. In the fish hall we saw a large marlin like fish being gutted on the floor and then manhandled into the basket of a mans scooter for transport to some restaurant or other. It was quite a bit to large for the transport being used and was quite comical heading down the road.

The fish market.
The fish market

Transporting large fish the hard way.
Transporting large fish the hard way

The church on the slave market site was quite stark but still interesting. The actual cells for the slaves were tiny and quite claustrophobic. The slaves huddled in the cell, 25 or more at a time for up to a week as the markets only happened once a week. Chains hung on the wall to show us how the slaves were all joined together with chains around their necks while they were transported on foot across the country – the story goes that those who were to slow, stumbled or fainted would often lose their head as the slave traders kept the lines moving. Back out in the light we saw a monument to the slaves before heading back out in Stone Town once more.

A Stone Town slave lockup.
A Stone Town slave lockup

>We visited the site of the house where Freddy Mercury was born and also saw TipoTipo’s grave. After than we went to lunch at the Dolphin Restaurant as recommended by Lonely Planet. It was a nice meal in a run down local restaurant with entertainment provided by Billy the African Grey Parrot. Billy knew a number of english words and phrases and also did a good car alarm, truck reversing noise and was excellent at general loud noises. Billy also liked having his head scratched and liked to play with toothpicks, though he got a bit surly after he had his toothpicks in his claw. Once lunch was had we did a bit of shopping before and looked at the craft market contained within the Stone Town citadel. There were some very good door etchings but I wasn’t going to pay US $90+ for one.

Billy the parrot.
Billy the parrot

Everyone met up at the hotel and our bags were placed on a trolley pulled by a local man. Piled up it was quite a load but he didn’t seem to have any problems. We all walked to the port and went through the departure process, ending up in a crowd waiting for the boat at the dock. The next three or so hours involved waiting for the boat to arrive, it was late you see. Then we had to wait while a bunch of people in military uniform supervised the unloading, the local election was soon and all the voting papers had arrived on our boat. Along with these delays the outgoing president of Zanzibar was also travelling on our ship so there was added security, and added delay, while he and his entourage boarded. We eventually got on board to find next to no seats left, Keryn and I ended up at the back of the boat hiding from the spray in a corner. It turned out that we were almost the lucky ones, those upstairs sitting on the floor and dealing with a number of passengers throwing up on the return journey. Once we arrived back at Dar es Salaam there was another torturous scramble off the boat, pushing and being pushed as we tried to get off. We were all incredibly glad to get back to the truck and Charles. The delays continued as we slowly made our way through the Dar es Salaam evening traffic. Once finally at the Silver Sands camp site we disembarked and everyone hugged or shook hands with Joseph, all of us having missed the quality and consistency of his food. We were also all introduced to Ann, the final member of the truck for this section of the tour. Ann had been in Zanzibar, she’s engaged to a Zanzibar local and is moving to Zanzibar to set up a new life once the tour is over. All off the truck and unpacked we had dinner, a few drinks and then retired to our tents for a good nights sleep.

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