Ok then! We settled in to wait for 11:30. The plane showed up at 12:00. There were six of us plus the pilot in a plane for 9. We all got window seats. No passport check. No boarding passes. No one even asked us our names.
The flight took us back to Arusha for a stopover before flying to Zanzibar. It was pretty to cool to fly back over the parks and landscapes we had just driven though over the previous 7 days!
As soon as we landed on Zanzibar it was obvious we were in a tropical landscape. We were ready for some relaxing and beach time! Off we went to the Swahili House hotel in Stone Town for 2 nights.
Stone Town is the main city on the island and used to be central for the old slave market, and also spice market. Unlike the main land, the majority of people on the island are Muslim, so we saw a huge difference in the dress type from mainland Tanzania. A lot more covered up, particularly for women. We basically had 1.5 days in Stone Town. We had not had wifi for 8 days, had been coming from tent city where the good was not awesome and the showers were not long. We had also been sitting in a land cruiser for 8 days. There was a lot of relaxing. I washed my hair ( for those of you counting, this is only the second time this happened on the trip) (and of you're still counting, it's now day 19 (Sep 16) and it's only still happened twice. No judging).
We did a city tour, with Osman, who we suspect just made stuff up when he didn't know the answers to our questions. He did know a lot of dates related to the activities of the early colonial times (German then British) and the Sultans. We went to maybe the most boring palace museum I've ever been to. The furniture in the queen's dressing area was almost identical to the furniture we had growing up in Halkirk.
Walking around the old town was really cool. We did this a lot. Usually it involved following Matt, with varying degrees of success. The old town is a lot of really narrow alleyways with people and goods and bikes and scooters and sometimes cars all trying to fit down them. They are twisty and turny and dark, since the buildings are all at least three stories. I would have been lost many times on my own. We watched the sunset on the beach, drank our first decent coffee in weeks, and watched the local boys trying to outdo each other diving off the rocks into the harbour area. We also visited Freddy Mercury's bar for lunch.
After Stone Town we headed an our north to the beach. We are at the Sunshine Hotel which is a lovely 15 room boutique hotel on the beach. There are 2 pools and a restaurant area, as well as a few comfy lounging areas. It is also remote from really anything. And full of lovahs.
It's really great for relaxing. But I think we definitely thought there would be more to do. There are some pretty rusty bikes we've taken out. We have gone for walks up and down the beach. And to the village (which basically is shacks and goats and children yelling Jambo at you). We have 5.5 days here. Today is our last full day. I have read 3 books since our arrival. We have swam in the pool. Played cards. Napped on all the chairs. Drank the hotel out of our favorite beer and wine choices multiple times. Maybe went a little stir crazy. Did not wash our hair.
Today I went diving, which was amazing. Not only because it was awesome, but because it have me a much needed respite from the hotel! I have not dove in 6 years. I didn't bring my dive card. I did a mini refresher in the pool and then they let me dive. Shhh. We did 2 dives, and the group was small so I had a dive master to myself, which was good, although everything came back real quickly. We saw lionfish (so cool!), a stonefish (which apparently is the most poisonous fish in the ocean; you touch it you die), nudibranchs, Napoleon fish, lobsters, crabs, parrotfish, dolphins (twice!) and about a million other fish that I would just name myself if I didn't actually know what they were (black and white spotted dogfish anyone??). It was a really good time.
Tomorrow afternoon we leave here. We all have the same couple flights to Amsterdam, and then the rest of the team flies home while I head to Croatia to meet up with Terri. I've got about 22 hours of travel to get ready for good European coffee and pastries. This trip is like 5 mini trips in one really. I'm ready for the next one!