Zanzibar - 12/20/00

After the pain of Mt. Kilimanjaro there was only one thing to do, Beach! We had to have some time relaxing on the sand with nothing more strenuous to do than drink beer and swim in crystal blue waters. Luckily the exotic island of Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania. All we have to do is get there right?

The luxury bus to the capital, Dar es Salaam, was pretty cushy, but I don't ever need to see another African Christian music video (8 hours Agghhh!). Dar was a good city, and it's only 1-˝ hours by ferry to Zanzibar. No problem except that the elections didn't go well there and the opposition party is blowing up schools among other things. Maybe we should wait.

Finally some good luck. We met Ron and Veronica in our hotel in Dar. They're a really cool couple from Argentina, and they hooked us up with a great beach just south of Dar es Salaam. The four of us spent four lovely days at the Kipepeo campsite doing absolutely nothing. White sand beach, palm trees, that special light blue tropical water, a couple forested islands in the distance and dhows sailing peacefully by. “Stimpy, this is the good life.” We even had a private little Banda right on the beach; step out the door and into the surf.

After all that relaxing you'd think we would need something more lively. Well you're wrong! We finally got to Zanzibar and immediately headed to Nungwi; a beach town on the north end of the island that is really a picture postcard come to life. Nothing to do but lie on the beach and snorkel. We were still hanging with Ron and Veronica too. Oh, the sunsets we saw and the card games we played!

We ended up in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar. From here the big day trip we all wanted to do was the Dolphin/Forest tour. It sounded a little cheesy at first, but boy was I wrong. We went to the little town of Kizimkazi on the south end of the island to swim with the dolphins. We got into a dhow called “Moby Dick” and raced off to catch the dolphins as they skirted the south end of Zanzibar.

Along with three other boats, we would chase a pod of dolphins, get in front of them and all jump in with our snorkeling gear. Amazingly enough, this worked really well. We got within 10 feet of 20-30 dolphins and within 6 feet of a few. This included one that kept scratching his back on the coral, and a mother with her calf. It seems that the dolphins could have left us in the dust whenever they wanted, but they were just moseying along. We got to drop into the water three or four times, each with a chance to get pretty close. Really cool.

Our afternoon trip to the Jozani Forest was even better. The walk through the forest itself was OK, but then the guide took us across the road to where he said the friendliest troupe of Red Colobus Monkeys were. We saw a few monkeys as we crossed the road, and as we moved under the trees, they became more and more numerous. All of a sudden, it seemed like we were surrounded by 50 monkeys (67 in the troupe actually), from elderly monks down to two-week-old babies.

At one point, we were standing right in the middle of dozens of them while they wrestled on the ground, played “king of the tree,” groomed each other, ate, etc. We were like part of the scenery. They knew we were there, but it didn't seem to interfere with their behavior at all. It was great! Lisa was giggling like crazy.

We spent one more day with Ron and Veronica before they took off to Zambia. Since we no longer had Rummy partners to keep us entertained, we consoled ourselves by getting our diving certifications. It was a four day course: two days in the pool and studying (no time even for procrastination, what is this school?), and two days in the ocean.

The four open water dives were great. The seas were pretty choppy (by the way a samosa, a greasy chapati and a boiled egg do not help if your stomach is feeling queasy), but the reefs were beautiful. Once you get 10-15 feet down the waves don't really matter, although on one dive there was so much stuff floating in the water it was like diving in a blizzard. We both did really well, accomplishing all the underwater tasks set for us including compass navigation. I have to say though, if I were leading any of those dives, we'd still be looking for the boat. We also saw lots of cool stuff including lion fish, blue-spotted stingrays, four cuttlefish and lettuce coral, which looks like a giant stone cabbage 15 feet across. Hopefully we'll do some more diving in Thailand and maybe learn underwater photography.

All in all, Zanzibar was the perfect sunny paradise. If you ever get the chance, go there! And don't forget to try the Zanzibari Pizza.

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"Bookclub is easy when you're not working!"

Our Zanzibar companions, Ron & Veronica

Low tide at Nungwi beach

Traditional sailing dhow

Nungwi - pure paradise

One of the beautiful doors of Stone Town

The Old Fort and Beit el-Ajib (House of Wonders)

A Zanzibar treat - swimming with the dolphins

"Don't just stand there; take my picture!"

Ready.... Set...


Food stall fare, cheap and tasty

Another wonderful sunset under our belts

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