The spice island almost left a bad taste in my mouth...
07/03/2009 - 10/03/2009 36 °C
After the silliness on the way into Dar Es Salam, ( Dancing to YMCA pumping out of a truck with half naked occupants in a Muslim city is generally frowned upon) , it was time to get off to Zanzibar for some beach time.
I was feeling rather worse for wear after some birthday celebrations of one of the truck group so I slept through the ferry ride.
I had already booked accommodation and decided to head off and a nice local offered to show me the way, obviously apprehensive about this I insisted I knew the way, but eventually I found out he worked for the a tour company. (I would later find out he was an agent for the tour company) As we walked I found out lost of historical fact about Stone Town and it was very interesting. Upon arrival to my guest house I gave my "Guide" a few Schillings although he insisted on more and I realised I hadn't given him as much as I thought.... Zanzibar being an Island it's more expensive than the mainland. We agreed that I may go on a Spice tour the following day but I would be at reception if I was going, if not I had made other plans with the rest of my group.
In our group of 10 we wandered round the narrow alleys of Stone Town which are perfectly safe and the locals are welcoming. The lanes are bustling with children with weird adn wonderful pets (E.g. Monkeys) and eventually we reached a calmly lit square brimming with the conversations of tea drinking locals.
Sure enough the following day the guy from the tour company was waiting outside my guest house to get me on the spice tour, unfortunately the other group had already left but they were only at the market along the road. We walked briskly across and around stone town to find them. When we got there they were not at the market so again we walked through the narrow lanes of stone town, but I lagged slightly behind the "Guide" as I was more than slightly suspicious at this point, keeping my gaze fixed between his eyes and anybody he spoke to along the way. After a while we got to the Zanzibar tourism office and I felt a little guilty about my suspicions. It was then organized for me to go by the tourist board mini-bus to hook up with the other group. Due to this my "Guide" tells me he isn't making any commission from the deal and I realized it was only fair that I give him a little extra and we agreed and I already knew how much the tour had cost some of my group the day before, so no big rip-off.
The spice tour was interesting and informative and we ate lots of fruit and spices picked fresh from the trees as we stood:
After having lunch at a local village it was time to head to the beach, from which most of Zanzibars hidden slave trade had been conducted. I went into the Slave cave which was a tight cavern in which slaves were hidden before being shipped to India. A vast number of the slaves dies trying to escape the caves either by suffocation, drowning or encountering snakes or Salt Water Crocodiles in the tight tunnels leading out of the cave.
On my return to Stone Town I was due to meet some of my group to transfer to the other side of the Island. Surprisingly enough my "Guide" was there to meet me to make sure I enjoyed the trip... and to tell lots of lies and attempt to screw more money out of me. Firstly it was 15.15 and I was meeting people at 16.00, he told me they'd already left but not to worry he could organise the transfer for me. Furthermore he'd had to pay more money for my trip after I'd left and so I would have to pay him more.... which I'd already done. I told him he was at it and he continued to follow me trying to explain the situation. Having now picked up my bags I told him I was off to meet my friends who I was sure hadn't left and told him he could call our man on Zanzibar to discuss the trip/money deal and I would speak to them afterwards if any money was owed. He continued to follow me on the walk to where I was meeting people still trying to convince me they'd left and that I should give him more money. As we drew closer to where I was meeting people he started to say he wasn't sure if they'd left, that's just what he'd heard. My patience was growing increasingly thin... He stopped to talk to some people, (I'd already noticed that most of the locals looked at him with complete disdain and only spoke to him for show to tourists), I kept walking and he explained that these were policemen who wanted to talk with me, at which point I turned and in my broadest weegie accent shouted F*%K OFF!!! and kept walking. I arrived back at the guest house to find all the people I was traveling with all packed up and ready to go. Mr Tour guide turns up and doesn't dare set foot inside, so I go out to have a quiet chat with him. Effectively I said he could whistle for his money as he was clearly a liar, as I went back inside he told me he knew we were headed to Padje and he'd be there later to collect his money. I then asked him if there was a hospital in Padje, he seemed confused but said he didn't know, I quietly told him he'd be in it if I saw him there. He looked startled and walked off. As I got in the mini-bus he reappeared and started up again whilst I was safely out of reach. Needless to say he was all mouth and no trousers... He did not appear to collect his money.
I was slightly annoyed and it took me a while to settle down, but as we arrived at Twisted Palms I was instantly calmed:
Hakuna Matata People: