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Tanzania

Back To Dar Es Salaam...

Zanzibar - back in Stone Town Again

Breakfast at 7:30, packed and ready to go we meet our group in the reception area at 9 AM.

Back on the bus and we head back to Stone Town. Once there we have about an hour and a half before we must board the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam. I go into town in search of an ATM and then meet up with Kelly at the Dispensary where we order food for the trip on the ferry and take advantage of the free WiFi.

Eventually it is time to board the ferry. This time Kelly and I decide NOT to check our backpacks - we "slip by" our "friend" and find our seats. The ride back is VERY rough. Pure 90 mins of agony. You'll be glad there are no pictures for this brief entry in a moment. They made some announcement before we left the port about rough waters and an apology but we weren't really expecting how bad it was about to get. The air conditioning wasn't working so everyone is clammy and people started getting ill. Soon the the sights, smells and sounds of sea sick passengers fill the cabin. Kelly is fighting to battle her dizziness and the smell. Eventually she finds the strength to stand and goes above to ride it out, I stay with the bags. One woman even passes out FLAT on the deck! Finally we made it, and the next ferry ride was not only shorter, it was smoother as well! Once in port we are met by Sam and our Intrepid truck / bus. We board and Sam takes us back to the camp grounds in Dar Es Salaam. Ramadan has ended and the streets are filled with many happy celebrating locals colorfully dressed, dancing and singing.

Back at the camp grounds we relax and have a few drinks while enjoying the party goers on the beach before dinner. At dinner Rose tells us about the next morning's and the next few day's plan...
4 AM wake up
4:30 AM breakfast
5 AM departure
After dinner and chores - early to bed - it's going to get interesting tomorrow morning!

Posted by Kelly Rose 08:59 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

The Beaches of Zanzibar...(Hope you like pictures of fish.)

The aquatic safari portion of the trip....

The ride takes about an hour and when we arrive we all concur that the trip was worth it!
So in our trip notes it states that we are to be staying in bungalows which on a basic trip I wasn't expecting more than a bed in a hut. So we were all pleasantly surprised when we got rooms with balconies that looked like this:

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The water was absoluely breath taking. So clear and calm.
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And it wasn't crowded at all and there were hardly any tourists to bother you too!

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After settling into our accommodations we head down to the beach for a swim and to soak in the beauty.

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Our hellish trek here was truly worth it! We all planned to meet for dinner at 7 PM in the fancy Italian restaurant, Essence. Very NOT Basic but nice after all the grueling days on the truck and ferry.

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Zanzibar - Snorkeling Day

After breakfast we are ready for our snorkeling! We were scheduled to leave at 9 AM, which was rescheduled for 9:30, and eventually it came to be 10 - it's African Time! So after breakfast with the view of the ocean we walked along the beach.
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10 AM we suit up - half wet suit, mask, snorkel and fins - let's go!
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On the boat we are joined by Bob & Christine from Florida, John from New Zealand, and a very nice English gentleman whose wife was on the other boat with a group of scuba divers (she is a teacher who has volunteered to teach English in Rwanda for two years so this is their holiday.) Chris is our boat leader / guide, a snorkeling guide and we also had a Captain. Oh and two Canadians from our tour.....
On the way we stop at another resort (about a 5 minute ride) and pick up a Belgian couple to fill our boat and now on to our destination - a small island about 30 minutes away. Our ride was nice, along the way we are treated to beautiful tropical turquoise, clear water.
NO FILTER!!!!
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When we arrive Chris gives us a brief talking and then - IN WE GO!!!

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It was wonderful! The water is warm and crystal clear! Thom was a bit nervous as his last snorkeling experience in San Diego was not that pleasant - he did fine. Here the water is calm and clean, you can see all the way to the bottom (about 25 feet down). We are on a coral reef thriving with coral, star fish, sea urchins and MANY varieties of tropical fish. Our underwater camera is a good companion during our 45 - 60 minute swim.
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And more fish and coral ...... But our camera really doesn't come close to capturing the beauty and thousands of fish! It is really hard to catch those guys on film!!! We saw so much more than just this but I couldn't catch it all in the water. Still amazing!!!

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What!!! Who let this fish in the ocean!!!
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Here fishy fishy fishy fishy!!!!!!
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I'd like to be....under the sea....
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We reboard to head over to another side of the island. Along the way we are please to come upon a school of dolphins (I thought they were called pods but that's for hippos and whales) about a dozen or so.

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They seem to be "playing" with our boat. Soon other boats join in the fun, but our friends seem to want to stay away from their crafts and follow us - great fun and pictures / videos!

When we get to our destination we are again joined by the dolphins, Again we are swimming in crystal clear water surrounded by many beautiful creatures.
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Starfish take the best photos because they work it hard....and they don't move too. large_P1020464.jpg

After about 30 - 45 minutes more in the water we reloaded and begin to head home. On the ride home we are treated to beverages and fresh fruits and snacks. It begins to rain but we travel through the rain and after dropping off the Belgian couple we arrive back to the dock where we turn in our equipment and Kelly and I go to Essence for a snack and to relax. After our snack we find Nancy on the beach where we join her for a drink prior to getting ready for dinner. There I took some of my absolute favorite photos of the sun setting...

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Postcard material:
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Tonight dinner will be at the Sunset Restaurant (the hotel's restaurant) @ 7 PM. We have dinner with our group and head to bed for our final night in this tropical paradise.

Tomorrow - my "friend" on the ferry... If only we knew what kind of hell awaited us....

Oh and I almost forgot about the GIANT SNAILS...Sorry
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Posted by Kelly Rose 12:16 Archived in Tanzania Tagged zanzibar Comments (2)

Stone Town and Garden Spice Tour

Zanzibar - Stone Town

Rested and hopeful for more relaxing times we wake and Sam drives us to the Ferry Station. In full "herd style" we follow like cattle and load onto the first ferry.
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A short 15 - 25 minute water commute to catch the main ferry to Zanzibar.
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This ferry is much larger with upholstered seats, refreshments and a rude "overlord" guarding the entrance.
We had our back packs on our backs - he didn't like that. He motioned for us "foreigners" to put our packs in an unsecured room before we could load onto the boat. Rose was no where and no help as we argued to keep our packs like others were doing. He kept insisting that foreigners had to put their bags there. He even grabbed Thom by the arm as I tried to look for Rose to get her assistance. In the end he won out and we resigned ourselves to leave the bags in the locked up area with all the other "Tourist" bags.

After the 90 minute commute we unload in Stone Town...

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Stone Town also known as Mji Mkongwe (Swahili for "old town") is the old part of Zanzibar City. Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa.
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Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture,With the East African culture being preeminent, there is a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

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The heart of Stone Town mostly consists of a maze of narrow alleys lined by houses, shops, bazaars and mosques. Since most streets are too narrow for cars, the town is crowded with bicycles and motorbikes. The seafront has wider streets and larger, more regularly placed buildings.
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The most well-known feature of Zanzibari houses are the finely decorated wooden doors, with rich carvings and bas-reliefs, sometimes with big brass studs of Indian tradition. Two main types of doors can be distinguished: those of Indian style have rounded tops,
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while those in the Omani Arab style are rectangular. Carvings are often Islamic in content (for example, many consist of verses of the Qur'an), but other symbolism is occasionally used, e.g., Indian lotus flowers as emblems of prosperity.
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Our hotel, a basic colonial building with showers and clean bathroom facilities. A walking tour was offered for $10 US but we opted instead to just wander on our own through the streets.
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Thom, cool Aussie Nancy and I take to the streets to see the sites like the beautiful water and colonial buildings, the park and occasionally stopping in to a shop or two.

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Along the way we bump into Rose who was shopping and Paul. Paul joins us and we continue to wander the streets. After getting lost in the narrow twisting maze of streets we found the local market which was so crazy busy!
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We walked around for a bit but needed to be off the streets between 5:30 and 6:30 at sundown because everyone would be inside praying for Ramadan and it may not be safe to be on the streets during that time since no one would be out except those looking to possibly mess with tourists. So to be safe they advise you to stay in .
Eventually we end up back by the ferry station where we stop in for WiFi and a drink.
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My 'milkshake' which was actually just chocolate milk
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We relax and even FaceTime with mom! Around 4 PM we head back to the hotel to prepare for this evenings visit to the food fair in the park.

That night the park was full of patrons and vendors. Ramadan was still in full swing so food after sunset is a BIG deal! We wandered a bit and looked at the food offerings but in the end thought better about eating some of the foods and we shared a "Tanzanian Pizza" - a crepe like creation could be made sweet or savory - we chose to get a veggie one. We bump into Bob, Christine, Vivian and Nancy the five of us decide to go to a restaurant for something a bit more substantial and a drink. We end up in a place called Mercury's. An upscale establishment named after Zanzibar's own Freddie Mercury!!! Two guesses what the soundtrack was... After dinner we went to the Dispensary but the advertised music was not on for the night due to Ramadan so we went back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we are going to head out of Stone Town and go first to a spice farm and then on to the beach / resort side of the island!

Zanzibar - Spice Farm

There is a brief rain shower during breakfast on the roof this AM producing a double rainbow - a positive sign of good things to come!

After a short walk to the "Big Tree" we meet our guide, Abdul
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who joins us on our private bus and escorts us to the Spice Farm where we stop and walk through the many fields of crops getting entertained by his animated style.
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We see, feel, smell and taste various plants along the tour:
lemon grass
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vanilla
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My favorite cinnamon bark fresh from the tree yum!
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Cocoa
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Turmeric
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Cardamom
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Pineapple
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Some kind of berry that can be used as lipstick???
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Our friend here was making everyone some souvenirs from leaves and plants.
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After the tour we have a tasting of teas and many fruits grown locally.
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And around noon we come to a small house where we enter and are served a fine lunch of local cuisine. Rice Pilloa, cooked spinach, salad and octopus stew - all very tasty! (well I didn't have the octopus but Thom did...)
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After lunch we board the bus and off we go to the beach! 15 minutes into our ride the bus breaks down. We sit by the side of the dirt road while we wait for assistance.
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As we sit locals begin to show their faces and start to gather near us. Some just staring while others (particularly the children) wave and smile saying hello! Luckily Abdul has a functioning cell phone and even better our new replacement ride arrives in a short time - back on the road...

Posted by Kelly Rose 16:57 Archived in Tanzania Comments (2)

Marangu and Dar Es Salam (the first time)

Dar es Salam

We left Mto Wa Mbu after lunch and drove to this really pretty quaint hotel in Marangu. Sometimes you get a real nice view of Mt Kilimanjaro from there but it was cloudy by late afternoon when we got there. Duties had been given out and after setting up tents I was on "chop chop" which meant my group was cutting up veggies and assisting our cook.
The hotel/campground had a fun little bar that our whole group eventually migrated to and we had a great time drinking and chatting it up while we waited for dinner. After dinner we did get some rain but it didn't mess things up since most of us headed to bed early for the LONG drive we would have the next day.

Thom (along with Steve and Paul) returned to the bar after dinner where he met three locals. One was a restaurateur, an older gentleman of Swiss descent married to an African who was traveling "overseas". Another lady was of Belgian descent, an expat now residing in Tanzania that lives "around the corner". And the last, a regal looking woman who as it turned out is the Queen of the local tribe. Her father was the king and when he died (at 105!!!) she took her right place. As we talked she disclosed that she was married to an American - an American that lived in Woodbridge NJ and had once lived in COLLINGSWOOD!!!! A small world indeed... Thom stayed out too late but had a great time.

I think we woke at some ungodly hour of 4:00 or 4:30 to break tent and have breakfast. It could be anything from a 10-13 hour drive to Dar es Salam.

So it was kind of a boring day on the truck.
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We have pictures from traveling on the truck that I am going to insert into this post although to be honest I have no idea where they were taken because Thom was taking them with his phone and I was probably sleeping or listening to "This American Life" Podcasts.

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But here is a little taste of some of the prettier parts of the road:
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We did get a flat and the guys were able to change it rather quickly considering what a monster of a vehicle this thing is. We had a bush lunch which means we stopped at a site on the way and Henry, our cook made us lunch. I had forgotten how much I loved seeing the small children from towns and villages along the way yell out and wave as you pass through. It happens all over and it doesn't seem to get old for me as it reminds me to smile more.

Dar Es Salam is the second largest city in Tanzania. Our camp was on the beach but unfortunately we had to drive through the center of the city to get to it. It was after dark when we got there and since it is Ramadan and this is a mostly Muslim city the streets and night markets were absolutely packed with people buying food and breaking their fasts. This also added extra time.
This was the beginning of the insane traffic while it was still light out so I'd say this was around 5:00-5:30 perhaps.

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We didn't get there until 9:00 maybe??? UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
When we finally got to the site it was late and Thom and I felt so disorganized with our stuff, we chose to upgrade and took shelter in a room where we , after prepping dinner were able to pass on dinner, organize our luggage, take a shower and drink ourselves to sleep...

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While not the best picture do to lighting we had our own hot shower downstairs in this bungalow and a balcony out our bedroom upstairs with a table and chairs to drink with my new girlfriends for the trip (Christine from Florida and Nancy from Australia) where we started the "Red Wine Club for Italian Ladies." The club consisted of each of us buying and stocking up on bottles of some kind of South African Red wine every time we went to a grocery store so that the three of us could spilt one each night or so with dinner. My kind of ladies! They definitely helped make this trip and the rough times in between the good a lot better and I am thankful for meeting them! (not just because of the wine...ha ha ha!)
Tomorrow we're off to Zanzibar!

Posted by Kelly Rose 14:07 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

Mto Wa Mbu

Mto Wa Mbu village walk and local lunch!

We returned to our campground in Mto Wa Mbu for some nice down time. Hot showers, cold beers, red wine and pool time. After another wonderful dinner they had live music and dancers performing at the bar so we went to partake. A little too on the touristy side for my liking but entertaining none the less. The next morning we broke camp and walked to a small craft and farming part of the village that was established not just to help combine and support multiple local tribes but also as a cultural center.

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We saw beautiful farming of rice and other crops

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Different structures of some of the houses
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Local wood carvers, Thom got to give it a try.
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Banana farming
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Local painters and the different styles.
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A taste of local banana beer
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Children of the village
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Taking my picture too!
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My favorite a preschool where they get the children ready for grade 1
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Do you like their SMART board.....hmmm makes you think.
Anyway...
They counted and sang songs for us. Absolutely adorable!!! Reminded me of my time spent in Ghana.

Finally we had a fantastic local meal prepared for us.
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Two kinds of rice, eggplant, spinach, stew, salad, beans, sweet potatoes chipatis and more ....followed by red and yellow bananas, watermelon and papaya. So good!
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Now we are headed to Marangu. There we'll camp in the grounds of the Marangu Hotel, a beautiful turn-of-the-century farmhouse set in 12 acres of delightful tropical gardens on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
More to come. Wifi is spotty so when things get posted will be too ;-)

Hakuna Matata!

Posted by Kelly Rose 13:45 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

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