Whilst walking along the beach late one afternoon I saw several small fires in the distance. As I got closer it looked as if several boats were being burned. It took a while to work out that they use this method to get rid of the algae, and because the wood is so hard, the whole thing doesn’t go up in flames.
Towards the end of my volunteering stay, we were taken out on a traditional Dhow for a few hours. The sea is very shallow for a long way out and crystal clear too, and although I’ve only experienced it a few times, I always love being able to see several feet down when out on the water. We took snorkels, masks & fins, and I really enjoyed being able to swim in a warm sea, looking at coral and tropical fish.
When we got back the tide was out, so we had to walk for about 20 minutes to get back to the beach, and because it was so beautiful a couple of us stopped to take photos of each other. My long sleeved swimsuit was bought especially for Zanzibar, as I’d been told about the need to keep shoulders (and knees) covered in order to respect the local culture. It helped stop me burning too, and as we got closer to the beach I just wrapped a sarong around my waist to cover my knees.
Closer to the beach we passed these local women working on their seaweed farms. I’d seen sticks in the sand at low tide before, but not realised what they were for. The farms are made up of little sticks in neat rows in the warm, shallow water. Ropes are tied between the sticks and the seaweed seedlings are strung between the two.
Seaweed from Zanzibar is exported to many countries around the world and is used as a base for cosmetics, lotions, toothpaste, medicines and also eaten as a vegetable.
African women nearly always bend from the waist when working at low level, whereas we would crouch down. It looks like backbreaking work.
The only land based wildlife I saw in Zanzibar was this giant African snail. This one was about 4″ long, but they can grow to over 7.5″ !
I had regular chats whilst walking on the beach with the Masai men who would wander up and down and always approach me. They are always trying to sell something of course, and when they realised I was a volunteer and not in the market for trinkets they’d make a fairly swift departure from my side. They were always very polite and respectful though, and I never felt hassled. I would often walk by myself, passing individuals and large groups of men, but never felt worried or concerned. It says a lot about the differences between men and women that I even feel the need to mention this. It would never occur to a man to wonder if it was safe to walk on a beach on his own.
One weekend three of us went out for lunch. ‘The Rock’ is one of the world’s most unique and beautiful locations for a restaurant. However, we’d heard that it was quite expensive, so ate at a beautiful hotel right opposite it and looked at it instead!
On my last weekend I went to Stone Town, which is the old part of Zanzibar City, the main city of Zanzibar. What a contrast to the beach that I’d been living on. Narrow streets, old and dirty buildings, peeling paint, and tangles of electricity cables. It was fascinating though, and a great experience.
Below – when you have no draughts pieces, just use coloured bottle caps instead! The bottom image of these two is of men’s hats, known as ‘Bargashia’.
Finally, we had three nights of stunning moonrises over the ocean. We knew when it was due to be a full moon and at what time, so went and sat on the beach to watch it appear over the horizon. The colour was incredible, and the photo of the boat (below right) is lit just by the full moon.
Below left – kite surfing, and below right – a windy and slightly cloudy night which resulted in some movement of the palm trees, giving the photo a slightly abstract look.
And that concludes my time in Zanzibar. Getting away from the British weather in December can’t be underestimated. The day I left, it was 32ºc and I swam in a hot sea. The next morning I landed at Bristol airport in thick fog and rain and less than 10º 🙁
I think it’s time for another adventure !!