Dar Es Salaam is a multicultural city tucked into a natural harbor on the shores of the Indian Ocean. This was the first stop of our seminar tour, and we were greeted with such unsurpassed hospitality it has made me question my own houseguest routine, which is basically inflating the blow up mattress and pointing at the fridge.
We stayed at the Sea Cliff Hotel in “Dar” (as the cool kids call it), a beachfront beauty with a rambling layout. I was astounded to see that the restaurants import their ketchup from Canada. To my Canadian friends, have you ever seen this brand?
Ava’s seminars went very well, and the next day our hosts insisted that we travel to Zanzibar – the notoriously cool-sounding semi-autonomous island about a twenty minute flight away – where they own a beachfront restaurant and promised a reservation at the most extraordinary boutique hotel in Stone Town. Oh, okay, if we must!
Ava decided that we should take a boat to get there and then fly out the next day to catch our flight to get back to business. We both get a bit pukey on boats, but hey, what’s a little nausea when you’re going to Zanzibar?
Unfortunately, we did get pukey, and we had no water, and no money. Ha! What a couple of stupid tourists, right? But wait! Ava found a keepsake two-dollar bill that she just happen to have in her wallet by the owner of Screaming O! Who says people don’t need sex toys?
We didn’t care that they took the whole two dollars for one bottle of water when the price for everyone else was seventy-five cents.
We sat next to a nurse from Hawaii who is in Tanzania on a two-year contract healing people “in the middle of nowhere,” as she put it. She was headed to Zanzibar for a 3-day African music festival, and gave us the lowdown on what types of illnesses come through her doors as a medical practitioner in the bush. Mostly dehydration, parasitic worms and common infections. Good times!
Then we spotted the shore line. Wow, there was going to be a whole lot more to this place than just being the birthplace of Freddy Mercury.
Arriving in Zanzibar, our fabulous Tanzanian host Stephi picked us up as she was there for the day checking in our her baby, a beautiful year-old restaurant called 6 Degrees South (because they’re 6 degrees south of the equator) where we sat on the rooftop patio and watched the sun go down.
The ambiance reminded me a little bit of New Orleans with the whole front of the place open to the street, a relaxed vibe, great food and flowing drinks. They also happened to have the best lobster I’ve ever had in my life.
We were also treated to the coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Forgive me if I ramble on about The Jafferji House, but I’ve never seen a boutique hotel with this much, style, artwork and authenticity. Here’s the front door, a beckoning oasis from the chaos of the streets of Stone Town.There was art, sculpture, books, artifacts in every corner of every space. You felt like you could learn all about Zanzibar and Tanzanian history if you could just stay here for a week.
Keyhole cut-outs between restaurant booths offer the perfect combination of public and private. I know I sound like a travel brochure, but I am sparing you about a hundred more detail pictures of this place. The rooms were SO cool with traditional African art everywhere you look, beaded doorways, and of course mosquito netting on the beds which looks so romantic.
It’s hard to believe that we ever left this hotel, but there were other things to see in Zanzibar. We checked out the space for the Busara Music Festival, enclosed by ‘The Fort,’ an very old wall that the Omani Arabs built back at the end of the 1600’s. You can see one turret on the far left. The festival was starting the next day, and people were arriving in droves.
But I really enjoyed seeing the sugar cane everywhere and the cool machines that squeeze it into juice. Violet would have LOVED to have fresh sugar juice!
Next we were off to the former slave market, which was of course depressing as hell, but definitely an enormous part of the history of Zanzibar since the island was used to collect captured slaves from all over Africa.
This monument sculpture was created by Clara Sörnäs to honor the slaves that were oppressed and killed during the time that the slave market was open. The figures are made of cement, and they’re bodies are half submerged and half in the light, with hard to read expressions.
British missionary and African explorer David Livingstone was appalled by the treatment of African people and made it his business to lobby the Sultans of Zanzibar (and many other political figures) to get slavery abolished, a feat which was finally realized in 1873.
On this site now there is an Anglican church to honor Livingstone, and the altar of the church stands exactly where the ‘whipping post’ tree once stood. Further, when Livingstone died in Zambia, his body was shipped home to England, except for his heart which was removed and buried under a tree in Zambia, as he had requested. The wood from that tree was used to make the cross pictured here. Heavy shit, man!