Monday, December 7, 2009

Zanzibar

While L was at work, I visited Zanzibar. The exotic, wild, spice island of Victorian dreams:



Zanzibar is Marrakech, the luscious waters of Palawan and the white sands of Boracay, all magically rolled into one island somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The old town, Stone Town, evokes the mystery of the orient - with various African, Arabic, Indian and Chinese influences all over town. The building doors you find everywhere are a testament to this, intricate, and very old, works of art:









As my guide, Abdullah, explained, doors that have square tops were formerly occupied by Muslims, and doors with rounded tops were formerly occupied by Indians, or Indian-educated Muslims.

Zanzibar and Bagamoyo (see previous post) were former slave trade centers, and in Zanzibar, the huge infrastructure connected with that time still exists. Here is the large auction hall where slaves were once sold, now an Anglican church:



Here's the holding pit for the slaves, where they were kept before being brought into the auction hall:



And here's the horrifying place where they were kept in between auctions, underground, 75 people at a time, with no ventilation or sanitary pits:



The slave trade was made illegal in this part of the world earlier than in America, but apparently trade continued until the early 20th century.

Abdullah and I walked around a little more, and I saw these amazing views from The House of Wonders:




After around three hours, I sat down for lunch here:



I walked around on my own after lunch, and it was pleasant. I went in and out of curio shops selling spices (cloves, cloves, cloves!), wooden art, and textiles. I bought spices I could use for cooking, some teas, and wooden spoons made of ebony wood.

At 5:30 p.m., I boarded a plane for my 20 minute flight back to Dar es Salaam, and I smelled really nice (it must have been the spices and the sea).