This is not paradise. It is not a honeymoon destination. Unless its the stay indoors and enjoy each other’s company kind.
You cannot possibly go to Zanzibar and not visit Stone Town. It is in almost every way the opposite of what the travel agents sell you. Where it is the same however is crucial however.
Stone Town is dirty, smells of sewage and you will spot a rat or two. You will be accosted by tour guides, taxi drivers, porters and homeless women on bicycles. But you will also see a wonder of history and a mass clash of culture.
This town is too small for its history. Somehow the run down buildings are testament to this. Instead of neglect I see a town struggling to cope with all that has occurred within its walls and on its streets. It reminds me of Istanbul, except that city bore it better. Perhaps the degradation and spirit breaking slave trade was the difference.
No matter. Hidden in plain sight in those decrepit tun down streets is the charm of Zanzibar. Charm is a strange word to use. But it fits perfectly. I walked the entire day until my feet were sore and my stomach reminded me I better eat before I take the two hour ferry back to Dar.
From the Old Fort to the boutique hotels in the middle of town where I managed to catch the last bits of the Boks game against the All Blacks; the old post office to the Old Slave Trade market I fell in love with the place. I could’ve walked the rest of that day to experience this beautiful run down town. I don’t possess the words to describe the slave centre and the church built atop it.
On the catamaran on the way back, still savouring the seafood pizza from Mercury Restaurant named for the Queen maestro who was apparently born there, I thought on the day I was leaving behind. It was a special day. I wish I could package it and let my friends and family experience it.
I look forward to seeing it again. I intend to pry back the covers and get intimate with it. Know its secrets. Learn what it has to show me.