Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, Tanzania
We spend 2 long days driving from the Malawi border to Dar es Salaam, we are both surprised by just how well the kids cope with the journey, the kids entrain themselves by using the imagination for play, so fantastic to watch kids grow up far too quickly these days. Our initial plan was to ship the White Elephant we bought in South Africa back to the UK, but further research shows it could be difficult to register it in the UK, so we have decided to drive it back to Johannesburg and sell it back to the company we bought it from, that means 6 long days of driving to get back, something no one is looking forward to. We have made it to northern Tanzania and have 2 weeks to enjoy before setting off. As we enter Tanzania the wealth increase as apparent, the people are larger and the short cut hair is replaced by hair styles something they have the money for here. First off we head to Dar es Salaam to enjoy the southern beaches, as we head into the city the satnav direct us to a ferry crossing. We pull in and are a bit confused by the whole process, apparently I have to drive the car onto a ferry whilst Edwina and the kids must get out of the car and go on the ferry separately. I wait my turn and drive onto the ferry and surprised to see it leave without any foot passengers, I can't think what is going through Edwina and the kids mind as they see Daddy sailing away leaving them in a foreign city. About half way across the river we pass a larger blue ferry carry both passengers and cars, it seems the one I am on is only for cars. As the blue ferry passes it packed, every available space is used and reminds me of the dense crowds you see on the India subway trains, I only hope there is less people on the other side getting on. When we reach the other side I drive off and find somewhere to park. Around 20 mins later the blue ferry is back, 1000s of people pile off the boat and after sometime I spot Edwina and the kids. "Horrific" Arabella shouts, "It was packed" Maddalena states, indeed it was pack and we feel the kids got a taste of the real Africa, we get in the car and the kids all state they never want to go on the ferry again, luckily there is a long way around over a bridge. We head down the road to Kipepeo Beach resort, its Sunday night and the locals have been parting on the beach, it's getting dark and the streets are full of drunks and people dancing in the middle of the street, we weave past them and eventually make it to camp. After 3 long days of driving getting here we decide to spend the next day on the beach, swimming and topping up our tans, I just appreciated the somewhat sleep in, getting woken by the kids at 7.30am.
Next day the plan is to go to Zanzibar, today would turn out to be just one of those horrible days you wouldn't want as your groundhog day, we took a taxi to the shipping agent at the port and where told we needed our passports to go to Zanzibar which I had left in the car, although the same county and government Zanzibar has its own president and you have to go through immigration. I leave Edwina and the kids in the office and head back with the taxi to get the passport, short on time we don't have the luxury of taking the bridge and have to use the local Kigamboni Ferry, this time the taxi drives on whilst I join the mad crowd fighting and pushing to get onto the ferry. On the way back the taxi driver tells be to lie down in the back as to save some time but as we board the ferry we are told it cannot leave until a container ship crosses which would be another 20 mins, needless to say I get back to the office and we have missed the ship. The next ferry doesn't get in until 2pm and we had only planned to spend 1 night there and since flying was a similar price we decided to take the 20 mins flight. The 10 minute journey promised by the agent turn out to take over 1 hour in the slow Dar traffic and we get to the airport and miss our flight. At this point we are all fed up and just want to go back, we talk to the agent about a refund but in the end decide to fly at 2pm. As 2pm approaches we see no sight of any flight, the military have closed the airport to land some fighter jets, no planes in or out. At around 2.30pm we finally get to board our plane, its tiny and only seats 8 people, I am surprised the kids are not complaining, as we take off the wind sends the plane sideways for take-off and it's a bumpy ride up, the day we are having I thought I wouldn't be surprised if we don't make it, but we do.
We take a taxi into Stonetown to Karibu Inn, cheap and cheerful in central Stonetown, great as we can walk everywhere, we organise a spice tour for the next day and set off into in dark narrow alleyways to explore, most are filled with curio shops and we spend a few hours buying some souvenirs, Edwina is determined to find some wooden spoons. As evening approaches we want to try and find some fresh fish to eat, we initially head to Forodhani Market, it's a square full of carts selling food but since 3 months have stopped selling seafood since there where a number of tourists getting ill. We check out a few restaurants and decide for Monsoon, a little expensive but we hope the fish will be fresh, the meal was awful and reminded us of Choki Dani in India, the fish portions were small and not fresh, it had a number of nasty sides, it really did top off an awful day, we head back to the hotel eager to go to sleep and end this day.
The next day we head out on a spice tour, initially I thought it would be terrible as we had been having such a bad time on Zanizibar but the tour was actually very good and informative for the kids. The first stage we walked around spice plants smelling the leaves and trying to identify the plants, we would then get to taste each spice. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the game and it surprised us what they had remembered from the trip, Luca identified the coffee bean, he says he remembers from Nepal, Arabella the coco tree from Indonesia when we visited Pod Chocolate factory. We were shown cinnamon, vanilla, coco, coffee, red curry (used in tandoori), chilli, cardamom, nutmeg, lemongrass, we also tried some fruit straight from the tree Mango, starfruit and mandarins. Next up we see a tree climbing demonstration and presented crowns and hats which the kids enjoyed, Luca wore his hat the whole day walking around Zanzibar. After eating and drinking the coconuts we go to the fruit demonstration and taste starfruit, pineapple, golden mango, mandarin and durian fruit the smelly one, I think I built this up as it didn't smell that bad and the taste was similar to a sweet avocado.
Things are looking up after the spice tour and we head to Luukman restaurant for lunch, recommended in the lonely plant, it serves local Zanzibar food, curries, Nan and chicken with rice, the food is amazing and we feed the family for less than a tenner. After lunch we head around the corner to the Anglican Church built on the former slave markets, the museum is excellent and engages the kids and they are asking questions about slavery all day, Maddalena even writes a song describing the brutality of the kidnapping and being force to wear irons. It's a moving museum with some terrible stories but the saddest part is the last exhibition describing slavery in the modern world and showing how even today it's still happening in the world, something the politicians if they got together could easily eradicate. After we head to the local Darajani market, Edwinas favourite part on Zanzibar, we go into the food hall where meat starting to rot hangs up, the smell is pungent and bad, I make the kids do a blog here as you eventually get used to the smell. After wondering some more we head back to the hotel again in the narrow alleyways of stone town. In the evening we go to a gelateria we found on the first day and have fresh pasta and pizza, heaven.
Next day we spend the morning looking at the curios, Edwina gets some more wooden spoons and enjoys photographing people in their environments. We head out to the airport, the flight lifts off pretty much on time but one of the passengers has to sit in the cockpit. We pick up the car and head into Dar around rush hour, bad idea as it takes us around 3 hours to cross with the traffic. The next stop is Bagamoyo, we were hoping for another day on the beach before heading north and although the beach was ok it was full of trash and not the most attractive beach to lie on or swim in the sea, we spend the next day catching up on Wi-Fi, laundry and sorting the truck before heading into northern Tanzania.