A Travellerspoint blog

April 2014

OUT OF AFRICA

REFLECTIONS ON OUR EAST AFRICA VACATION

As always I like to capture a few points of interest about each trip. Since I am now officially “out of Africa’ I thought I would spend my 4 hour layover in Geneva compiling my list.

1. As a tourist you are well taken care of. They know the value of your business and go through great lengths to show only the positive side of things. Driving though villages, seeing tribes deep routed in tradition and beliefs remind you there is a whole other side to these countries.

2. People work extremely hard to get water. Including very small children.

3. To clarify women and children work hard. The number of woman lugging water and fire wood was heart breaking but not as much as the young boys out herding the cattle.

4. I at no time felt unsafe. No doubt having an excellent tour company and guides played a part in this.

5. I am still in love with giraffes. They are my number one and I love their curiosity and the way they just stop and check us out blinking their long eyelashes. I also love the zebras. I have new admiration for the wildebeests and the warthogs. Elephants are up there too. Hippos stink.

6. Isaac lists his favorites as lions (especially when they hunting) and wildebeest.

7. I am super impressed with Disney and their animators. They truly have captured the personalities, movements and behaviors of the actual animals. Every time I saw a large Warthog it looked just like Pumbaa from “The Lion King”. We can’t wait to watch that movie again.

8. Speaking of movies, we have to watch “Out of Africa” too. We saw many of the sites where the movie was filmed.

9. And still on the movie theme, did you know that simba is Swahili for lion?

10. Swahili is a beautiful language. I would love to learn it. It is the first official language of Tanzania and English the second and in Kenya, English is the first official language followed by Swahili. English proficiency was significantly better in Kenya.

11. I love the way the African women dress with their Kangas in bright colors. If I could pull it off in Gander I would but my wigs seem to draw enough attention (town loon kind of attention) so perhaps not the best plan.

12. If you are planning to take your family, you best do the birds and bees talk first because animals are not discrete.

13. Safaris are harder than I expected. I am not sure what I expected but we were on really bad roads for the better part of two weeks getting knocked around pretty good. Lorna picked up a newspaper that was a week old that described some safari vehicles going over a washed out bridge and tipping over and the tourists had to hang from trees. Since this was on our route we asked our guide. He was not the least bit concerned because the bridge only broke because of 2 days of rain. Ah, it is rainy season. We saw the bridge and it was indeed ‘fixed”.

14. In Kenya, kids go to school for free until grade 6. In Tanzania, parents pay for all schooling, supplies and uniforms. This has to change.

15. Animals are amazing. Nature is amazing. How all these creatures cohabitate and survive in the harsh east African climate is amazing. How water dictates how so many behave and gather is mind blowing. I could watch for hours. We did watch for hours.

16. As weird as it may sound, it was pretty amazing to see endangered animals mating (black rhinos).

17. We are forever grateful to be able to travel, to see the world, to have clean water, an education and a safe place to live.

We hope you will join us on our next adventure wherever that may be.

Posted by curlygirl 13:36 Archived in Tanzania Tagged africa safari tanzania east kenya Comments (2)

SWIMMING WITH FISHES AND ZANNZIBAR AIRPORT

BEGINNING THE LONG JOURNEY HOME

sunny 31 °C

It is 4:30 and I am sitting in Zanzibar airport waiting for my flight to Dar Es Salaam and onward to Zurich. It has already been a very eventful day including our experience at this airport. What would I expect given our arrival here but let’s start with our snorkeling adventure.

This morning we booked a morning snorkelling in the Blue Lagoon. After being fitted for reef shoes and snorkeling gear we boarded one of the little trucks used for local transportation. It was fun but unlike the locals we only had 10 of us in there. We see them blocked with at least 20 people. We took a 5 minute drive and then pulled up to a hotel construction site and made our way out to the water and onto the boat. Despite the roughness of the adventure we had a great time and saw lots of fish including trumpet fish, zebra fish, big yellow angel fish, and a friend of the parrot fish we ate last week. Oops. We had a great time and the sun was beating down so the water was the only place to be. We got back to the hotel by 11:15 and had time to swim in the pool, have lunch before cleaning up and heading to the airport. A terrific final morning.

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This airport is absolutely the most primitive I have ever encountered. As we walked in towards security and the big luggage x-ray machine some man kept shouting at me “problem, problem”. Isaac had to explain that the machine was broken. We had to drag our bags to a counter where they kinda looked through before clearing us. Next we lined up to check in. There is no air conditioning and we were sweating buckets. Great way to start a 2 day trip home. We are all connecting with international flights so we have to get off this island and given that they cancelled our last flight, we approached with trepidation. I handed over the 6 passports and he asked me what time our flight was. Ah, shouldn’t they know that? I said, “5:10” and he chuckled and said “not today”. Gulp! But then said “delayed 30 minutes”. I insisted it couldn’t be any later and in true African style he replied with a “hakuna matata”. No worries here. So now I sit in the sketchy waiting area with only a few shops and not one soul to ask about our flight status, hoping for the best.

Note the luggage scales.

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I thought today’s activities deserved a post. Hopefully my next one will be my usual trip reflections after we are on our way.

Posted by curlygirl 07:00 Archived in Tanzania Tagged zanzibar tanzania breezes Comments (0)

EXPLORING STONE TOWN

OUR LAST FULL DAY IN AFRICA

sunny 30 °C

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Today we did a visit to a local spice farm and then on to Stone Town. The spice tour was very informal but we had the change to walk through a government run farm and see all the local specialties. We saw cinnamon trees, cloves, vanilla and nutmeg. The red stuff surrounding is the nutmeg seed is mace, the kind used as tear gas. We saw much more including plants used locally for medicine and this pretty flower, whose pod is used by natives for face paint and lipstick. It was really interesting and Isaac loved it. A couple of the workers made the boys ties outta leaves, and us frog necklaces. At the end of the tour we had the chance to try many local fruit.

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We then went into Stone Town which was the center of the spice trade and slave trading in the 19th century. Zanzibar is 95% Muslim and you could sure feel it there. Women were covered in varying degrees and the men were also traditionally dressed in Arab attire. Completely different than mainland Tanzania. Our first stop was at the Anglican Church built where the slave market used to be. Outside the church is a monument to the slaves. We were also able to go inside the slave holding cells which was very disturbing. Not much space for the large number that could be held there for more than a week. Most of these slaves went to Oman since the Sultan of Oman had residence in Stone Town and took over the town.

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After a fabulous seaside lunch, we wandered through the streets admiring the beautiful teak doors that Zanzibar is famous for and explored the local markets, including the smelly fish market. This guy outside was using a machete to chop up a manta ray.

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It was extremely hot and humid today and we were beat. I slept almost the entire 1 hour drive back to the resort and we were all quick to jump in the pool before dinner. I won’t bore you with more food pictures but will say it was delicious.

Hard to believe this is our last night in Africa. We leave tomorrow night but have a snorkelling trip booked for the morning. We are taking fully advantage until we are on board our flight.

Posted by curlygirl 11:22 Archived in Tanzania Tagged town africa safari zanzibar stone tanzania adventures Comments (2)

UNDER THE AFRICA SKIES

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORST - REPORTING IN FROM ZANZIBAR

Hello from the Breezes Beach Club and Spa

I have been afraid to open my mouth about our good luck with the weather because I thought I might jinx it but we are close enough to the end to comment. Even though we thought we were taking a huge risk coming during the long rains, the weather could not have been any more beautiful. We experienced a 2 hour down power on our first safari day in Kenya that occurred only while we were in between game drives. This is what we were expecting so were not alarmed. Since then we have had terrific weather and if any amount of rain has fallen it has been when we were sleeping or a 5 minute drizzle when we were at higher altitudes. Nothing short of glorious. We figured our luck ran out when the skies opened this morning and it rained the better part of the morning on and off. We made the best of it, relaxed and accepted our fate. Who could not enjoy time at this place, rain or shine? About noon, the sun broke out and all memories of the morning quickly passed.

Not looking so good here

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Here is our room and the view from the patio. All the coffee tables have spices in them that are grown on the island.

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First stop was a roam on the beautiful sand beach. We relaxed while the kids played a game of beach volleyball.

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After lunch by the beach, the kids got into the ocean and had a great time playing on a wooden platform. They tried to toss me over a few times. The ocean surrounding us is the Indian Ocean and it was like bath water.

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We hit the pool next and Isaac stayed in until 5pm when I had to drag him out to go for our Thai massages. I was in and out but took time for Sangria. I had a great view from my chair.

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Our very relaxing day ended with a five course sit down meal.

First course, a fish ceviche

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Second, coconut prawns

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Then a sorbet to cleans our palates Made with fresh lime.

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Our main was a choice of stuffed chicken or a fried fish fillet with a local lobster. I had the fish.

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Last but definitely not least a passion fruit pavlova with vanilla ice cream.

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No need to worry about us. No hardships here and we definitely won’t starve.

Tomorrow we have a full day outing planned so are hoping for more sunshine.

Posted by curlygirl 12:37 Archived in Tanzania Tagged zanzibar tanzania breezes Comments (0)

ARRIVED ZANZIBAR

ARRIVED IN PARADISE

semi-overcast 28 °C

I know I said I would not post but you know me, I always have something to say. It was actually our arrival in Zanzibar that made me want to add a picture so I figured I might as well add a few from our journey today.

Our drive to Kilimanjaro was 3 hours and along the way we saw some more of the life in Tanzania that we have been protected from on safari. Here are a few pictures snapped from our moving car.

We passed many Maasai villages scattered along the roads. And many Masaai. The colours are amazing against the lush scenery. It is hard to believe these place are completely brown most of the year.

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Maasai selling their cows milk at the market.

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A busy market day.

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Many women working so hard.

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We sadly said good bye to our amazing guide at the Kilimanjaro airport. We should have had a great view of the mountain but unfortunately it was cloud covered until after we were inside the airport when the skies cleared. The flight was only about 1 hour and although cramped was pleasant. Knowing that tourism is the number one industry, I guess I expected a little more from the airport. We walked inside and saw an immigration sign which we did not expect since it is the same country. We were handed sheets to fill out with out passport information and then we just handed it to some guy who didn’t even check it. I could have written Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and they wouldn’t have known. But here is the funny part. In this tiny, and I mean way smaller than Gander airport, we walk past immigration to see the entire concrete wall beat out. I joke, “ha, wonder if they throw the bags in through the wall”. Not that funny. That was the baggage claim area. I cracked up.

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All is well and we have arrived in the dark at what appears to be a luxury resort. Lorna and Kajal were in awe and so was Isaac.

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They kept the buffet open for us and the spread was amazing. Ever second dish was coconut something. God help me. And dessert was coconut mousse with a banana and honey spiced sauce. How could I say no to that?

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Here is a glimpse of our room. One thing about mosquito nets is they give your bedroom an exotic feel. As with all our resorts, we have turn down service so I just have to hop in bed.

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It is hotter and muggy here. A warm 28 degrees when we landed at 8 pm. Not a complaint.

We will have time to look around tomorrow so I will check in after that.

Posted by curlygirl 13:09 Archived in Tanzania Tagged zanzibar tanzania breezes Comments (1)

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