Zanzibar. We’ve been hearing about places so much on this trip, I now no longer know if I knew about this place before I came or not… But I definitely did not know it was off the coast of Tanzania, and an island paradise akin to Hawaii or the Cairns area of Australia, but that’s pretty much what it is. Also, expensive… At least by African standards!
I was looking for a way to avoid the 7 day section of dirt from Arusha to Mbeya, mostly because I’m sick of almost dying on the dirt downhills with my roadie brakes, and Zanzibar seemed like a neat place to try out. Once I found out Sigrid was going, it was an easy decision since I wouldn’t be all alone!
I flew direct from Arusha Airport (not Kilimanjaro’s airport) and straight to Zanzibar on one of the smallest planes I’ve been on.
The motorbike guy was there at the airport and I easily got hold of my 250cc honda dirt bike. After a quick stop at the bank to get money to pay him, he walked off and I motorbiked for the first time since 2005, all the way across the island to my hotel in Paje, where Sigrid and friends were staying. They’d spent a whole day relaxing already and were waiting to party that night, but after some food I kind of passed out for a couple hours, missing the party, but waking up in time to have my very first trans-continental phone call of the whole trip! Actually, the second… the first was boring and to my bank, but it was awesome to chat with Danielle back home and plan out a few months of adventures once I return to Canada! I also decided to cut my trip just a tad short since I was spending so much money doing these side trips and come home in time to do the Golden Triangle, a 3 day bike trip through BC on May Long weekend. I’m so stupid, right? I have two days off when I get home, then back to cycle touring! haha. I did it last year, my first and only trip on a bike until this one! 320 km over 3 days sounds so wimpy now, hehe… But it’ll be amazing, fun, and friend-filled! UCTCers, you guys out there? Sign up! It was fun last year! 😀
Day 2 I headed back to Zanzibar Town, to the old section called Stone Town, which is now a world heritage site… Was very pretty and fun, had some great food, ran into Sigrid and friends, and left the city motoring through the alleys of Stone Town, feeling like I was in a James Bond movie as the alleys and turns were very tight and people had to move out of my way to make it through… One of the funnest things I’ve done! Getting back was a bit harrowing though, as sun set while I was out without any glasses but my sunnies. Without them, bugs filled my eyes at high speed and with them, I couldn’t see much past the outline of the road. GAH. Made it though, no incidents.
Day 3 – 5 kind of blends together in a great time of relaxing, reading (started and finished Amanda Lindhout’s House in the Sky book about her kidnapping and torture in Somalia (along with a memoir of her life before that time – helps me respect her a bit more than before for the crazy decision to goto Somalia in the first place) – great book by the way), meeting new friends (a brief interlude on that in a second), snorkeling with dolphins, and visiting a forest reserve where endemic monkeys lived! I did not go Scuba Diving, but that’s ok… it was a great week of relaxing!
After a few days of me being 2 km down the beach from Sigrid and friends, Nadia departed and Sigrid and Solveig moved down beach near me, who was at Arabian Nights, to Paje by Night. This place was awesome, and I spent most of my week there after the move. Sweet pool, sweet hammock to read in, and some new friends, specifically Francois-Louis from France who was vacationing in Zanzibar for a week to take a break from his busy life as a doctor and decide what to do moving forward… He found Sigrid and I spewing stories of TDA greatness and I really think he might sign up, I’m pretty sure he spent the next few days reading all our blogs about the trip!
More importantly, Francois-Louis provided me an opportunity to bribe a police officer! lol. We were heading for the monkey reserve together on my motorbike, but FL didn’t have a helmet… Something practically no Africans we’ve seen on this trip (and in Zanzibar) wear. He said we had to go to court the next day and pay $25 USD, which was total bullshit I’m sure, but whatever, I knew what was going on and played along for the experience. We went inside the police station and into a small room where he again explained how we needed to go to court… I asked if we could pay something there instead, and he said they didn’t do receipts at the station. No problem, I said, and his eyes lit up. It was just a couple bucks, and super ridiculous… But whatever, that’s Africa for you… I’m surprised it took until now to happen, but mostly the Tour is well planned and they know the staff is well educated on scams, so they leave us alone.
Anyways, it was a pretty great 5 days of rest. I had a couple runs in there, both good and amazing (though always hot), and then Sigrid and I made our way back to the tour here in Mbeya (an aside: one of the two types of sour candies I’ve been hunting since I had them in Addis was actually found in the Zanzibar airport at a little shop… how ridiculous? and where did he source them from?!), where we met up with everyone again. I hope Birgit and Leah get their blog together soon, they did take pictures for it! 🙂 You’ll have to wait and see. 2 more days to the next rest day, this time in Malawi. I missed a lot of on road Tanzania, but I’ll be back again for sure. The people, animals, sights have all been amazing!
For now, pictures! Always the best part! Hope you like monkeys.