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Karibu Zanzibar!

Posted by on May 22, 2011

Welcome to Zanzibar!  The Spice Islands!  It only took 30+ hours of traveling, but I, and my checked bag, made it safely.

Upon entering the terminal, I had my yellow vaccination card checked to see that I a current yellow fever vaccination.  I’ve never had anyone check before so I’m really glad that I brought that card!  The airport here is pretty tiny.  They don’t even have gates: you just walk down a movable staircase from the plane and enter the terminal.

Going through customs was also interesting.  I filled out the card they gave me as always.  Then they took my photo and scanned all of my fingerprints.  Then the guy stamped my passport and said “ok”.  He didn’t ask for the $100 visa fee.  So I thanked him and went to get my bag.  I guess he saw my previous Tanzanian visa from 2009 and thought that was current.  Not my fault.

Tanya, one of the other students who is coming next week, had contacted her old taxi driver and asked him to pick me up from the airport.  I didn’t see anyone with a sign bearing my name so I waited, and waited.  After the fifth guy asked if I needed a taxi I started to get a bit worried that no one was coming.  I had a cell phone but didn’t have any airtime and didn’t know where to go.  I started to get nervous.

Then Masoud arrived and I breathed a big sigh of relief.  Now I had to tackle finding a place to stay.

Masoud had told Tanya that he knew of a few houses available to rent and that he would take me to see them when I arrived.  So after having traveled so long and not getting much sleep, I spent three hours being driven around the Stone Town area looking for lodgings.  It was exhausting.  I probably looked at 5 places, although I lost count.  At one point Masoud pulled over on the road and talked to another driver.  That driver got out and introduced himself to me as Masoud!  This was the Masoud that Tanya was talking about (he showed me a picture of him and Tanya from last summer).  The other Masoud was one of his employees!

The last house I looked at was really nice and huge, with 4 bedrooms (two master bedrooms), a huge living room/office, separate dining room and large kitchen.  It’s right down the road from where another researcher lives and is in our price range so I jumped on it.  The owner wanted all of the rent in cash before we could move in, so I am still working some details out, but I think this will work.

I got three mosquito bites during these three hours.  I took my second mefloquin (anti-malarial drug) later that day.

By that time it was after noon, or the middle of the night SF time and I was hungry, dirty and tired.  Masoud 1 and 2 took me to a nice hotel in Stone Town (the main city) and I bargained the price of a room from $80 to $50 for the night.  It’s probably worth more since it has air conditioning, a mini fridge, king bed, huge shower and is right on the beach, but I said I was a student and was on a budget. 😉

The shower I took was so nice!  Did I mention that it’s quite hot here and I was wearing jeans the whole time I was driving around? I was pretty sweaty and felt gross from not showering.

I walked down the street to a restaurant Masoud recommended and had curried prawns with rice for lunch while looking out to sea.  A little bit of paradise.

When I got back to my room, I checked my e-mail and talked to Jacob for a few minutes then I went to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon!

I was woken up twice during the evening.  One time because the person who stayed in this room the previous night had ordered dinner and once when a girl came in to spray for mosquitoes.

But now I’ve had 14 hours of sleep and I ready to see some more of the island!

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