The tin roofs glittered in the sunlight like confetti as our plane approached the island. We are on our way home now, stopping over for one night in Zanzibar, an ancient trading town off the eastern coast of Africa. Although it is a part of Tanzania, it fancies itself to be autonomous. We were asked to fill in immigration forms on landing at the airport but no one looked at them. Stone town is the perfect confluence of Arabic, African, Indian and European cultures. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture and town planning is predominantly Arabic. Narrow streets lined with two storey houses with long narrow rooms disposed round an open courtyard, reached through a narrow corridor are distinguished externally by elaborately carved double ‘Zanzibar’ doors. These wooden doors are particularly ornate and characteristic features of most houses here. They are one of the main themes of the local art work and memorabilia. The motto here seems to be ‘pole-pole’ which translates to ‘slowly-slowly’. But after our week-long quiet time in Fisheagle Point in the north of Tanga, this place seems hectic.
Zanzibar is infamous for being the last bastion of the slave trade and a major centre for the ivory trade, both of which are considered by many never to have properly ceased. It is well known for its seafood, fruit and spice markets. Walking through the market was an onslaught on the olfactory senses. It was a relief to leave as I couldn’t have taken any more surprise odours.
We did the touristy thing of buying a few t-shirts, fridge magnets and other necessary yet unnecessary things. I missed buying a t-shirt for Saagar. I wanted to cry but I didn’t. Earlier in the day, I had read on someone’s plastic wristband -Life is not fair but it is still good.
Watching kids play football in the narrow streets in the evening was uplifting. Loaded up with passion fruit juice! Happy as can be. 🙂