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Thursday, December 20th, 2012, Zanzibar, Day 2

Zanzibar, Day 2

This morning we had a wonderful breakfast at the Kiponda B & B.  I can’t believe I am saying this but I was very happy to see cornflakes and yogurt, the latter I don’t often eat but this was sweet, light and delicious.

A very attractive open air space for breakfast with goodies that seemed in line with my taste.
A very attractive open air space for breakfast with goodies that seemed in line with my taste.

We have to make good use of our time today as my four Tanzanian companions are leaving on the 3:30 pm ferry for Dar. I suggested the Anglican Cathedral, Todo the slave quarters. I also need to go to Barclay’s bank to get cash and to the post office for stamps. We started off by shopping – window shopping for me to get a sense of what interests me. Rube was exploring essences in tiny bottles. The rest were saying – thing of this, think of that.  It was fun.

As we were wandering in the tiny alleys we passed many more uniquely carved doors.

We were told that doors like this which have protrudances out from the door were constructed this way to discourage elephants from trying to gain access.  Don't know if this is true but....
We were told that doors like this which have protrudances out from the door were constructed this way to discourage elephants from trying to gain access. Don’t know if this is true but….

We turned a corner and there in front of us was St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

A Catholic Cathedral, the towers of which are a beacon from the harbor.
A Catholic Cathedral, the towers of which are a beacon from the harbor.

A young Zanzibarian man joined us as we were gawking at this catholic church telling us that it was built by missionaries in the late 1890’s. He had lots more to share and soon he became our guide.  We told him what we want to accomplish.  He informed us that to achieve all our goals we would be transversing Stone Town’s alleys forward and back on different routes.

Panorama of Stone Town

This photo is from the St. Joseph’s Cathedral website.   On the left the House of Wonders, in the Center, St. Joseph Cathedral Towers.

Enroute to Barclays we passed the Anglican Cathedral.

This structure was completed in the 1870's.
This structure was completed in the 1870’s.

The majestic, Romanesqueish structure was completed in the 1870’s.  It turns out the slave quarters were adjacent to the Cathedral enclave and legend has it that part of the income for the building was paid for by slave traders. In  1878 England banned slave trade (though the Arabs, it is rumored, continued for a while).

Just outside the Anglican Cathedral is an entrance to the undergound holding space for male and female slaves.  This is the female space
Just outside the Anglican Cathedral is an entrance to the undergound holding space for male and female slaves. This was the female space.  Pretty awful!!

Our journey continued. Barclays Bank turned out to be just outside the Stone Town border which meant crazy traffic.  Our guide manoeuvered us across and I did my banking.  Crossing back into the perimeter of Stone Town was a fantastic market.

The roof of this market was red canvas - not sure of fabric.  The end result gave the large space a unique feel to it.
The roof of this market was red or orange canvas – not sure of fabric. The end result gave the large space a damatic feel to it.

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I bought spices. Rube bought essences.

Crossing back thru Stone Town to the post office we came upon a beautiful building now named Emerson Spice House.

This restored building has a new life as a hotel

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Emerson Skeens is an American who came to Zanzibar in 1989 and befriended the current owner. Subsequently he bought this beautiful structure and renovated it.  In 1990 he opened the first hotel on Zanzibar, adding an extension.  It is not known who originally built the structure but the last Swahili ruler of Zanzibar, Muhammad bin Almed occupied it for his business purposes.

As we were looking at that exterior the guide noticed that Mr. Skeens was in the lobby.  We went up and said hello. He invited us in. When you look at him you can see he has lived a very exotic life – a true adventurer and a very gracious man.

These photos give an idea of the wonderful results that can be obtained when conscious restoration is undertaken.

This gracious space has both a check-in for hotel guests and a place for a drink.
This gracious space has both a check-in for hotel guests and a place for a drink.
This is part of the new wing
This is part of the new wing
Silver arches
Silver arches
Beautiful furniture
Beautiful furniture

We didn’t see any of the bedrooms but this link gives you an idea. http://www.emersonspice.com.  It seems Emerson Skeens is also involved with the arts.  Annually, he produces a film festival and other artistic adventures.

Just as we were about to move off our guide’s girl friend arrived.  We took a picture.  This gives you a good idea of how narrow the streets are in Stone Town.

l to r.  Rube, Paulyn, Dorah, Ann, Guide, Todo, girl friend
l to r. Rube, Paulyn, Dorah, Ann, Guide, Todo, girl friend

Our group is beginning to get weary (remember, it’s in the mid-90’s).  We trudge on to the Post Office arriving just before they closed for lunch. Stamps bought, cards mailed ( I wonder if they will arrive in North America) we said good bye our tour guide.  We could see our tip didn’t make him very  happy so we upped the ante. All was well. He deserved it.

I went along with my four travelling companions to see what was in store for me on Saturday.  And, we had a bright idea. Todo would also buy my ticket.  The usual pushing and shoving in order to be successful followed. At the conclusion Todo handed me back my passport and ticket and the others their tickets.  We walked away from the wicket only to realize the ID’s of the others had not been returned.  Back she went, pushing into the line. The agent was glad to see her and the ID’s retrieved. We set off once again.  With the pressure of people around you sometimes it’s not easy to remember every detail.

The traffic on the street adjacent to the ferry entrance was CRAZY.

Everyone was rushing, cars were not moving.  For the ferry arrives, unloads passengers, picks up passengers and leave.  As a result people are coming and going
Everyone was rushing, cars were not moving. Within an hour the ferry arrives, unloads passengers, picks up passengers and leave. As a result people are coming and going.

We found the entry gate to the Ferry and said goodbye.  I shouted:  Please see if I have to go thru security before boarding the ferry!

Now, for the first time in Tanzania I am own.  At first it felt weird, I was used to chattering with many.  I went to the roof of our hotel restaurant with my computer, (they have WiFi) and caught up on e-mail and wrote in my diary.

A lovely place to relax after a busy day.  An attendant brought tea.
A lovely place to relax after a busy day. An attendant brought tea.

Later, I returned to the plaza for dinner ( I didn’t think it advisable to walk through Stone Town at night on my own.) Some of the vendors remembered me.  I so enjoyed choosing my dinner, sitting down with others eating and observing night life.  The lighting is atmospheric, the diversity of cultures amazing.  This was the first time on Zanzibar that this island gave me the feeling of what historically I had envisioned of Zanzibar – a  romantic location.

Earlier in the day I had seen a sign promoting a drum concert to take place place in the Old Customs House, not far from my B & B.  An old elegant building (which had seen better days) on the quay, has now been turned into an arts center.  Upon entering one is discovers an elegant central core with three floors around the perimeter. The top floor is the location of the music school. Lighted candles led the way up with wide stair case.   No audience had arrived yet.  I hung out.  Eventually it started. The music  was a mixture of many arabic styles involving some professionals and some students including a young girl about 10 years of age playing the violin.  Quite impressive.  When she didn’t know what to play, she just stopped!  Fortunately, there was an adult on the violin, to carry the sound.  I also love the sound of the oud, a pear-shaped instrument that is pluck.

 The violinist on the right is the youngster.
The violinist on the right is the youngster.

After an hour I left.  I was really sleepy.

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