Zanzibar: A Woven Story of Slavery, Markets, Turtles, and a Doozy of a Kite Lesson

We are in Zanzibar

I arrived in Stonetown, Zanzibar, on Wednesday night. We checked into Hotel Verde and, by and by, went to bed.

The Tour of Stonetown

On Thursday, I took a tour of Stonetown, Zanzibar, with a local guide. While waiting for the guide, we browsed the local shops in the old square where we were told to meet him.

The Loom

In one of the shops was a great, beautiful loom, hand-built by the brothers who owned and worked the shop.

The Loom

History of Stonetown

Soon the guide was there, and we started our tour. He told us that the first people that were there were natives that came in small, sailless boats. Then, in the 11th to 12th centuries, the Arabs arrived on their sailing ships and took over from the natives. Later, the Portuguese came through, trying to find a better route to India, and found that it was an excellent spot for getting to India and the African mainland, where there was ivory and people that could be enslaved. So the Portuguese took over from the Arabs and built the fort we were standing in.

A turret in the old fort

We continued to the seashore, where we saw some original British 1800 cannons. When the British arrived, they took over from the Portuguese and installed their military.

An 1800 British cannon

The Spice Market

We continued our tour to the main event: the Spice Market. The spice market is a market of people who, you guessed it, sell spice. But spices are not the only things sold there; there is also all manner of food: fruit, vegetables, condiments, meat, and fish. We got to see, smell, and hear the sights, smells, and sounds of the fish and meat portions. We first went through the butchery, where raw sides of all large meet were hanging about, and it smelled like fresh zebra bowels. However, we got through it and into a middle ground between the fishery and the butchery, where people sold good-smelling vegetables, grabbed some cilantro to cut down the smell, and then ventured into the fishery. It was intense and nauseating. If you have ever smelt raw dead fish guts that have just come out of the water, and you amplify that smell times 200, plus the smell of a butchers shop, you might get an idea of what I smelt through my cilantro as I walked through the fishery.

Three fish in one of the stalls. There were maybe 100 of these stalls, each having someone with their products in them.

The End of the Tour

After the spice market, we went to a church, one of the only two churches stowntown, compared to the over 50 mosques. It was built where the old slave auction block had been demolished. Fun construction fact: at the entrance to the main hall, there are many marble pillars, and they are placed upside down due to an error by the formal because the engineer was away.

The Church Steeple

After we were done at the church, we went to a museum, and our tour was done. We checked out of the Verde on Saturday and headed to the Zanzibar Pearl.

Scuba Diving at the Zanzibar Pearl

We checked into the Pearl, had a delicious dinner of Gluten-Free pasta, and went to bed. We lazed around, played in the ocean on Sunday, and prepared to go scuba diving on Monday. We dived two dives: The head of the island dive, which, unsurprisingly, was at the crown of the island, and the small wall dive, which was down a wall of coral, which was small compared to the big wall. It had good visibility, the coral was very vibrant in color, and we even got to pet some fish. Between dives, I free dove from the boat, which means I dove down to maybe ten feet without a scuba tank or equipment. On the second dive, we saw 3 feet in diameter turtle, which was awesome. I found it a delightful dive and would recommend it any day.

Kite Surfing and Getting Ripped Off

On the way back from scuba diving, we stopped by a sign that said “Kite School,” where they taught you how to kite surf. I said that would be fun, and I returned the next day. I talked with the instructor, and he said the price would be $100 for the entire training. I spent 4 hours, and then the coach decided I was too tired and told me we would continue tomorrow. I had forgotten that we were leaving the following day, so I agreed and paid him in advance. I returned to the hotel, being reminded that we were going the next day. My coach said that we could continue in the morning and that it would have to be early, and I told him we could do 6:30 am, and he agreed. My mistake in all of this was paying him in advance. I showed up early, and 6:20 am the following morning, and continued to wait until 8:30 for him to come, but he never came. I went back an hour later, and he appeared and told me the wind was not good for flying a kite; I said it was excellent up until 9:15, and if he had decided to come on time, then we could have continued our training. He insisted that the wind had been too down all morning, even though that was complete poppycock, and we gave up. We headed to Stonetown so we could catch our flight the following morning, and we now headed to Cape Town.

kite surfing school in Zanzibar that I do NOT recommend
The Kite School

See You in Cape Town!