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My first Zanzibar adventure

Posted by on May 25, 2011

Feeling refreshed after a long night’s sleep, I started to make a plan for the day: I needed to check out of the hotel, move into the house and get that settled and call Stacy to see if she wanted to get together.  Stacy is an American who has been working at the Zanzibar Malaria Control Program (hereafter called ZMCP) for the past nine months.  She’s going back to New York this week to start medical school in the fall and I timed my arrival in Zanzibar to overlap with her for a few days in order to learn the ropes from her.

Even though I got up not too long after dawn, I took my time packing my things because I didn’t want to call Stacy too early.  However, I needn’t have worried, since everyone gets up early in Zanzibar.  Since 95% of Zanzibaris are Muslim the morning call to prayer is heard around the island at 5 am.  Sadly, by the time I called Stacy at 10, she and her sister, who is visiting, were already headed to the beach.  I told them I would try to meet up later.

When I called Masoud, the driver, to tell him I was ready to leave, he must have been just around the corner because he said he was coming then called me three minutes later when I was not down at reception waiting.  He took me to my new, temporary home which had been cleaned and the lawn manicured overnight.  I had my pick of bedrooms, so I chose the large one in the back with the king sized bed and own bathroom.  There is no other furniture except a wardrobe next to the bathroom, which makes the room a bit sparse.

The thought of hanging out at an empty house by myself all day was not appealing, so I called Stacy and told her I would come meet her.  She gave me the name of a hotel to meet at, which didn’t mean anything to me, but I passed it on to Masoud and we were off.  It was only later that I found out that our 45 minute drive took us to the northern tip of the island!

I was dropped off at White Sands hotel on Kwenda beach where I met Stacy and her sister, Marni.  May and June are the low tourist times because of the rains so the beach was pretty empty.  Stacy and walked along the beach, looking at shells while she explained my responsibilities as the new Plasmotrack coordinator.  Afterward, we went swimming in the wonderfully warm water and ate pineapple that had just been picked and cut.  A little bit of paradise!  Just watch out for the jelly fish!

See pictures here:

Kendwa beach and Ston Town

We drove back just before sunset, which is about 6:30 here and went into Stone Town (hereafter known as “town”) for dinner with Stacy’s roommate, Claudia.  Claudia is from Switzerland and works for RTI, a research organization that works closely with ZMCP.  She’s been in Zanzibar for two years now and is going home in June.

We had dinner at this great Indian restaurant called the Silk Route and had the power go out on us just as dinner was being served.  Luckily, most businesses have their own generators so we didn’t have to spend the entire meal in the dark.

Stacy’s taxi driver, Nassour, drove us home and since it was quite dark I had a hard time recognizing the gate to my house!  I ended up calling Masoud, but the best he could tell me was “it’s the black gate”.  Well, there are several black gates!

I was actually at the right house and confirmed my belief when I could open the gate.

Just as I laid down to read the power went out at my house (this will be a recurring theme I gather) but luckily I have a portable light for my Kindle.  I’m now 10% done with Les Miserables.

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