Monday, 16 May 2011

A rather exciting weekend

Technically the above statement is a lie as I am combining two weekends into one but the title ‘An exciting Friday, Saturday and Sunday but from different weekends’ does not have quite the same ring to it.
Friday = ZANZIBAR.

Zanzibar is a small island just off the coast of Dar that it famous for its beaches and history particularly the slave trade.  Due to time running out quicker than my emergency supply of Percy Pigs it was suggested by the wise Judith and Alison that I go on a day trip. So Friday morning I got up nice and early and went to Dar domestic flights airport- it is tiny. The plane, it turned out was also tiny. Only about 14 people could fit in, you couldn’t stand up straight and it was kept in the air by a propeller- I thought these type of planes were extinct. The plane journey was amazing, as it doesn’t fly very high you can see everything, I’ve never been in a plane like it. I was picked up at the airport and taken to a Spice farm; Zanzibar is also famous for its spices. I loved the tour, we walked around the farm smelly, tasting, trying different spices including the lipstick plant which you crack open the pod, crush the seeds on the inside then, bobs your uncle- lipstick! On the walk round I was made all sorts of accessories including a frog necklace, a bracelet, ring, a little cup to hold all the different spices, they were all made from leaves and twigs- really cool. Did you know that cinnamon is the bark of the same tree that roots are used in ‘nose unblockers’ such as vix and pineapples grow in the ground like a bush? At the end of the tour I was met by a man holding a handbag and crown, again made from leaves, this man then went on to climb a palm tree and bring down two fresh coconuts which were quickly eaten. To finish the tour I was invited to try all different fruits that we had seen around the tour. The man serving me was great- spoke little English but was still hilarious, as I was the only person in the tour group some of the locals joined us and the atmosphere was brilliant. They were typical Africans- warm, friendly and loved dancing. After pushing the car out of the mud my guide and I set off to Stone Town, I suppose the capital town of Zanzibar.

Meeting the locals on my Spice Tour
Stone town is a maze of narrow streets weaving in and out of tall buildings built by the Arabs and the Indians many moons ago. The streets have no name and seemingly no direction so if you get lost you would really get lost! The buildings were probably once very grand and beautiful but now they are old and crumbling which I find very appealing. After walking through a bustling market I was shown to the Slave Chambers. Slaves were bought over from Mainland Tanzania and sold in Stone Town, the chambers were appalling, probably the size of a medium bedroom, not high enough to stand up in and would flood twice a day with high tide. There were no toilets and three tiny air slots, in the two rooms were kept up to 75 women and children and 60 men in the second room. They were kept in the chambers for three days with no food or water, waiting for market. On market day they were walked out and tied to the whipping tree- this is exactly what it you would expect from the name. Each person, including the children, were whipped to see how strong they were therefore how much the buyers would pay. The Slave Trade was abolished by Dr Liverstone who built a Church were the market and tree used to be.  The church is still there today and inside is a circle on the floor marking where the tree once stood.

A reminder of the slave trade, the chains are the original ones that were worn

Our next stop was the Beit El-Ajaib also known as the House of Wonders. On the way we passed the house where Freddie Mercury was born- it was very disappointing, just a normal Stone Town House, I don’t know what I was expecting really. Well the House of Wonders is hilarious- it is so called because it was the tallest house in East Tanzania when it was built, had electricity and a lift- that worked for a mere two weeks! It is now a museum about Tanzanian life and culture; it also has some great views over the rooftops. As we walked to the final destination- to look back over the crystal blue sea towards the mainland we were stopped by a man saying he was the last Sultan of Zanzibar. He invited me to his house which I politely declined; we went to the beauty spot to only be found by him again. After 10 minutes of life stories in broken English he said that he would buy me an ice-cream, however he needed some money! Well at least I can say I have spoken to the last Sultan of Zanzibar who was a slightly mad, charming old man with an addiction to ice cream! It was time to return to the airport, I bought myself an ice cream as he had put the idea in my head. However, when I open it I discovered it had chocolate on the top (remember  I’m not eating chocolate) so I had to eat the thing upside down making a complete mess and throw the bottom (or top) half away, the small child sat opposite watched me with great fascination. Rather excitingly on the way back the pilot asked if anyone wanted to sit at the front of the plane with him- I was the only one who volunteered- this may not be true but everyone else was toooooo slow- muhahahaha! It was great seeing all the cockpit bits and looking out the front window during landing. What a perfect day!

Buguruni School from the sky! Can even see the boys playing football
This might have to be a To Be Continued... post as it has taken me a lot longer to write than I expected and I need to write up some stuff from last week’s English Club. I will continue with my weekend tomorrow... this is better than Eastenders!! Love xxxxxxxxxxx


  1. ...this sounds like an amazing day and an amazing place but with its very sad and tragic history, the plane ride sounds like an adventure in its own right.

    Three months and no chocolate...well done you...if you are not eating choc does this mean I can eat your easter egg!!!!just kidding!!

    Speak soon take care....

    Love mum xxxxxxx

  2. Charlie I'm invisaging a great career for you in travel documentaries after reading this. You and Michael Palin would be wonderful together!
    It sounds like the Tanzanian people you've met are super fun. I hope you've learned some cool dance moves from them! You can show off what you've learned at the hen do - not long at all now! Wooop woop!
    I'm afraid Tom and I don't have any silly stories to entertain you with today. Sure there will be more to tell when I next see you.
    Hope you have an amazing last few weeks there sweetie. Take care...

  3. Hi charlotte Dad again my last post got lost in transmisson,so I've two to comment on now.Your sleepover post was very touching we take so much for granted in northern europe,and still moan about things,it did remind me of living in Arlingham as a child but without the mossies,how things have changed.I'm pleased you've made it too Zanzibar,sounds so interesting,hope you took plenty of pics.Mum must think I've buried the easter egg in the garden as shekeeps stopping carding and starts gardening!!!Not long now,if you want to select one of the children for me to sponser before you come home carry on.Take care lots of love Dadxxxxxxx.

  4. Great!!!managed to get a post away at the first attempt.

  5. What faye said!!! 17 days till the Hen do and I want to see all you new african moves!!! I will also be checking for unsightly tan lines so if you have any they need to get sorted asap!! Am utterly green with envy at all your wonderful adventures and I think you should be a travel journalist or write a book or something!!!
    Miss you lots! xxx

  6. Hi Charlotte, I agree with what Jessi said, you should really think about travel journalism. Your posts are so interesting and a pleasure to read. Look forward to hearing more of your news on your return. Best wishes Marlene xx

  7. OOooooo, wrote a big comment and then lost it!
    I think I said I agree with everyone else (but being on the TV would be most exciting!)The only thing I shall miss about you being away is reading your blogs, although when you come back you can TELL me all your stories!
    Sounds like an awesome day Chazzer Bird, and check you out getting chatted up by the last Sultan of Zanzibar!!! Hot stuff.
    Love you loads! xxxxxx