Karibu….. Welcome to Zanzibar!!
Finally, I could take a deep breath after struggling for almost three hours at Djomo Kenyatta Airport. I had no idea, why the airport was so mess up in that morning. I arrived three hours before my departure times, and was being in queue line for the next two and half hours. I was predicting how much money I had in the wallet, considering the worst possibility to miss the plane, when somebody from the counter screamed loudly, “WHOS’S FLYING TO ZANZIBAR?”.
Realizing that that call was for me, I screamed with the same volume, put my hands up, and screaming lady took me to cut the lines and brought me to the front of counter.
I still couldn’t breathe normally even though the boarding pass was already in my hand. There was another queue lines that I must pass. Immigration. Lucky me. The line was empty and I could pass easily.
Struggle was not over yet. I arrived at the boarding gate and didn’t find my destination on the board. A young good looking man stood there, looked confuse as I was, tried to find some clues about his flights.
“Are you flying to Zanzibar?” He asked me politely.
” Oh Yes, ” I replied enthusiastically. I was happy to know that I was not alone, in case if I miss the plane. Together, we tried to find the boarding gate which apparently was the same gate with flights flying to Daressalam.
“Good Bye, Nairobi. I’m heading to Zanzibar, beautiful tropical island in East Africa”
It took more less one and half hour to reach Zanzibar from Nairobi. I spent almost the whole times to sleep until I heard the announcement from the pilot, told us that we were going to pass Kilimanjaro mountain, the peak of Africa. I couldn’t believe my eyes, knowing the fact that I would not be able to hike that mountain, but faith brought me to see the peak of the highest mountain in Africa. It’s a chance in a lifetime.
Entering Republic of Tanzania, all visitors are expected to have yellow fever vaccine. So, don’t forget to include this vaccine for not being deported after your arrival. For Indonesian citizen, I had to pay 50 USD for visa that would be valid for another three months.
During my stay in Zanzibar, I chose to stay in Stone Town, the capital of region which is full with narrow streets and stone houses in its side. Perhaps, that’s why they call it Stone Town. Victoria, somebody from Zanzibar Grand Palace Hotel where I would stay for the next five days, welcomed me at arrival gate.
“Karibu, Nurul. Welcome to Zanzibar”
The hotel I was staying has roof terrace where I could see the harbor of Stone town. After doing my checking process, I decided to have rest in my room for some times before exploring the city. The bellboy, the one who was helping me to carry my bags to the third floor, refused politely when I gave him the tips.
“Please don’t get offended, Madam. But you don’t have to give me the tips. This is my job” It was the first time happened during my traveling time.
I hired a local guide, named Yusuf, who I got by recommendation from my hotel, to explore hundreds of narrow alleys in Stone Town, the capital which is located next to the harbor. If you’re not familiar with them, you could get lost easily. Zanzibar is special autonomy province and part of Republic of Tanzania. Unlike other part of country located in mainland, Zanzibar has different culture, influenced by Omani culture coming to the country in 1698. So, in this region, it’s normal to hear adzan, pray calling five times a day, see women walking in the long fawn with hijab covering their hair. The houses were made by stone, perhaps that’s why it’s called as Stone Town. The architecture itself is also influenced from Arab, especially the doors, with its special unique design.
Yusuf took me to see how the locals live through the alley of Stone Town. I could see children playing and running through the narrow street, some old men repairing the wooden boats, mother sitting in front of their shops while waiting for customers or just chatting with the neighbors, and people selling their things in traditional market. We also visited slave market, located next to Anglican cathedral to see how the slaves were treated before were sold. They put into a very small room, with short ceilings. When the tides came, the water could reach the ceilings which was inhumane terribly.
Zanzibar is also house for the famous Queen’s vocalist, Freddy Mercury. I passed his house during the trips, but had no chance to get nice picture due to limited space. Nonetheless, I tasted nice calamari at Mercury’s restaurant where its name named after Freddy Mercury, to end my first day in Zanzibar.
There are many things that I could tell to see in Stone Town. I will write for the next post for things to see and do in this beautiful island.