Monday, December 9, 2013

Zanzibar - Day 3

Day three in Zanzibar started out early - a super quick breakfast and then checking out/meeting our guide.  We had both a guide and a driver and a private car with A/C - what more could we want?

David, our guide, gave us some additional historical and cultural tidbits as we drove out of town, pointing out the house where Freddie Mercury may have been born and the house where Stanley Livingstone lived for a while.  We marveled at the great condition of the roads (after living in Uganda you learn to appreciate these things!) and the colorful scenes.  There was a slight drizzle as we left town, but it finished by the time we reached our destination.

The community spice farm we visited was situated adjacent to an old hammam built by the Sultan.  We ventured inside to see the beautiful detail of the stonework, though the floor tiles were sadly gone.  Then we ventured on a meander through the spice farm.  Worked on by several different families, these farms average 5 hectares in size and grow a large variety of spices all together.  The government farms, by contrast, are 25+ hectares and have big plots of one single spice.  I preferred this smaller one where we could play guessing games with the various plants and see how things complement each other.

David was our main guide, but he enlisted the help of a young man who worked on the farm to climb trees and get things down for us as well as to make us palm-leaf crowns and baskets.  While he spoke very little English, he was great fun to have on our tour.

We saw and learned about lemongrass, cassave, pineapple, clove (the island's main export), cinnamon, vanilla, ylang ylang, allspice, pepper, jackfruit, coconuts, and so much more.  I was pretty good at guessing the spices by their smells, and it was fun to see how things actually grow!  I'd done a similar tour in Sri Lanka, but I think I retained more from this one.

Once we'd toured the plants we sat down for a tasting of fruits - bananas, jackfruit, coconut water, young coconut, grapefruit, and mandarin oranges.  Our young man had just climbed the tree to get down our coconut and carved it as we watched.  Such fun!

As we were preparing to leave, our guide said as an afterthought, "have you ever seen marijuana?"  We looked at him questioningly, and he went on. "Well, there's lots of it down there," gesturing down a steep hill.  We declined to venture down and just laughed, wondering how many people take him up on the offer. 

We drove down the road, stopping at a house for a traditional Zanzibari lunch.  We feasted on rice pilau and a variety of veggie and fruit dishes.  Absolutely lovely.

Before heading to our final destination our guide drove us through a government farm to take a look at nutmeg trees and to buy some cloves and nutmeg. 

We then got back in the car and drove about an hour south to Jozani Forest, home of the rare red colobus monkey.  Since it was midday we had low expectations for spotting any but figured it was worth a shot.  We stopped at the ranger station to pay the entry fees and then headed onto a well marked trail for what I thought would be a 20-25 minute walk.  Instead, after walking less than 5 minutes we emerged at the road from where we'd just come.  We crossed the road and not more than a few meters into the forest we saw leaves rustling.

At first we couldn't see any monkeys, but all of a sudden they were everywhere.  One, two, three, then four and five young red colobus monkeys swinging through the trees and branches.  Their mother was chomping away in a nearby tree, getting her fill of young leaves, their primary diet. 

These young monkeys were a hoot!  They played and swung and wrestled and just had a grand old time, right at our feet.  We kept our distance, but they didn't seem to care, swinging even closer on their next pass.  One ran over my foot at one time; another barely missed hitting me while swinging on a branch.  They were fast, active, and absolutely adorable.  It was hard getting photos of them standing still!

We watched them for about 30 minutes.  They were not at all nervous - a great sign that conservation efforts are working and poaching isn't a problem.  They didn't approach us for food - another great sign.  They were just completely content to play in our presence; mama monkey didn't care at all.

After getting our fill of monkey antics we got back into the car for the last 20 miles to our beach resort.  The forested interior gave way to sandy, beachy terrain as we approached.  We pulled into Breezes Beach Resort and were immediately greeted by several very friendly staff who got us settled on a daybed where we checked in, drank fresh passion fruit juice, and learned about the resort. 

Finally they led us to our rooms - we had two of the best rooms in the place.  Ground floor, closest to the beach, unimpeded ocean views from the terraces, etc.  The rooms were large and lovely with giant beds. 

I went to check out the spa, where I immediately booked a package of three massages over three days, and then wandered around.  D changed into beachwear and read on the terrace.  The first massage that afternoon was possibly the best I'd ever had - the spa was impeccable, the staff very well-trained, and the ambience perfect. 

I dipped my feet into the extremely warm ocean before we settled on the adjoining terrance and watched the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

Dinner was a festive spice-themed buffet with a Taarab band playing nearby.  I had a little miscommunication over my drink order, but once that was settled the waiter and I laughed about it, and we enjoyed dinner immensely. 

With no television or internet in the rooms, it was nice to unwind and just relax.  I fell asleep quickly and slept well all night.





Clove tree

Cinnamon - the carved patches are where people cut samples

Delicious jackfruit


Getting ylang ylang samples

Our coconuts are up at the tippy top

Yep, all's well on this 100 ft high tree I'm climbing!

coconut carving

Forest trail

Black and white colobus (or something similar)

The tiniest baby red colobus - probably a couple months old

Gorgeous coloring!

Chewing on a branch


Most of my photos are blurs of motion like this

Climbing, swinging


So close!

Peeking for his playmates

Such adorableness!