Mozambique & South Africa (Time Out) 2022
We had two sea days after leaving Madagascar before we arrived in Maputo, Mozambique on November 19. You may be wondering about the unusual title of this episode so this is what it means: The morning after we left Madagascar Mary tested positive for Covid and was quarantined in our room. On this trip a quarantine lasts for at least 5 days, starting on the day after you first test positive, so in reality about 6 days. If you test negative on the morning of the 6th day you are supposed to be sprung from your incarceration, but as you will see things don’t always go as anticipated.
Last Spring HAL ships were setting up separate corridors for quarantining covid patients that were off limits to other passengers and at least on some ships crew delivering food wore hazmat suits and left the food trays in the hall to be picked up by the occupants of the room after they left. Nothing so extreme on this cruise; Mary was quarantined in our regular room and we had a hard time convincing our normally attired room attendants not to bring the food inside as they normally do. And even though Rick was sharing a room with a quarantined person his movements about the ship were not restricted. We thought that was rather strange.
Rick was given a choice to remain with Mary or move to another room. He decided to stay but that was very short sighted and foolish. You can probably guess why, but more on that later.
Anyway, because of Mary’s quarantine neither of us left the ship in Maputo (although presumably they wouldn’t have objected if Rick had done so). Maputo is the capital and largest city in Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony for many years. In fact, this city was originally called Lourenço Marques after a Portuguese ship captain who explored the area in 1544. They built a fort here in the late 18th century and the town grew around it. After a long revolutionary struggle the country achieved independence in 1975 and the next year the city’s name was changed to Maputo, possibly after a river in the area. After independence a destructive civil war raged into the 1990’s and they have been reconstructing ever since. Today it is a mix of newer high rise buildings and older buildings with more charm.
We had been to Maputo once before in 2018, but were only able to drive through the town on our way to Kruger National Park in South Africa. You can see that here:
While he stayed on the ship Rick went up to the top deck and took some photos. The ship was docked in Maputo’s large bay. To our left was the mile long bridge to the suburb of Katembe which formerly could be reached only by ferry. Opened for traffic in November, 2018 (about 10 months after our last visit here), this is the longest suspension bridge in Africa. It was built by the Chinese.
From the ship it was possible to see several of the local landmarks that we had planned to visit today, or at least portions of them. Probably the best known is the central railway station with its bronze dome and green and white paint. It opened in 1916 and was not, despite common belief, designed by Gustav Eiffel (although there is a house in this city that he did design). It is considered one of the dozen or so most beautiful train stations in the world. Standing in a traffic circle across Praça dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Square) from the front of the station is the Monument to the Great War, commemorating the soldiers who fell resisting the Germans during World War I. Since it was dedicated in 1935 while Mozambique was still a colony, it was most likely the Portuguese soldiers they had in mind rather than the Africans.
Independence Square is considered the center of Maputo, with the neo-classical City Hall located on its north edge. Built by the Portuguese and opened in 1947, it has been the seat of city government ever since. In a traffic circle in front of the building is a bronze statue of Samora Machel, Mozambique’s first president after independence. The statue is 30 ft tall and sits on a 9 foot high marble base. It was dedicated in 2011 on the 25th anniversary of Machel’s death in 1986 in an airplane crash. We understand it is somewhat controversial because some people think it doesn’t resemble Machel at all. Extending above the surrounding buildings to the east of the City Hall I could see the upper portion of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It opened in 1944 and is constructed of concrete.
Muslims make up about one fifth of the population of Mozambique. The tops of two mosques could be seen from the ship. Jumma Masjid Mosque was built around 1890 and is the oldest place of worship in the city. We don’t know the name of the mosque with the golden dome, possibly Masjid Takwa but more likely not. Still a pretty arresting sight.
The Maputo cruise port sits in the bay and is separate from the commercial port facilities. There is a small green painted gate into the port area. When we sailed away we passed the ferry terminal and dock, which had an interesting older building next to it that we couldn’t identify.
We sailed away back into the Indian Ocean. Although our itinerary took us south from here we had to sail a pretty long way to the northwest from the bay before the pilot left for his yellow boat to take him back to port. This course was marked by buoys so it must be mandatory, but we have no idea why this control extends so far from the port. It played out long enough, with no end in sight, that Rick finally went back down into the ship before the pilot left.
Durban, South Africa
The next morning, November 20, we were in Durban, South Africa. Of course we had canceled the excursion we had booked and stayed on the ship again. If I remember correctly, everyone had to leave the ship for a face to face passport check in the cruise terminal even if you were staying on the ship for the day. So Rick did that, but because of her quarantine the ship’s crew took care of checking in Mary’s passport.
On this day we also came to our senses and asked to have Rick moved to another room, which obviously would make it less likely that he would come down with Covid. They came and moved him to another window room, but one floor down where he had no view of the walking deck. This was not fun.
Rick went up to the top deck again to take pictures of what could be seen of Durban. Unlike in Maputo, however, he didn’t spot any particular sites of interest. So you will have to be satisfied with some panoramas of the city from the port.
Feeling completely well and with no restrictions on his movement about the ship, Rick decided to eat with our table mates in the main dining room for dinner. It was a good meal and everyone was glad to see him after several days in which he had eaten in his room out of caution. But later that night he began to feel ill and the next morning, you guessed it, he tested positive for Covid (while others at our table contracted Covid, we hope it wasn’t from us). So the medical staff decided to move him back into our regular room with Mary, who was still quarantined as well. Unfortunately, the medical staff failed to enter this move into their records properly so that the ship continued to think he was in the other room on the second deck for almost a week, until after his quarantine was over. A complication we sure didn’t need.
We left Durban for another two day sailing to Cape town.
Cape Town, South Africa
We arrived in Cape Town early on November 23. We had anticipated the two day stay in Cape Town to be a highlight of the voyage. It is a very interesting and beautiful place. We had tickets to see Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, on the first day and had booked an excursion through the wine country on the second day. We had also planned for this to be our prime shopping port, as it was when we visited here during the 2018 world cruise on a double overnight stay after our safari in Kruger National Park. You can see that here:
We knew that Rick’s quarantine wouldn’t be over until after we left Cape Town but Mary was supposed to be tested early in the morning of November 23 and released if she tested negative. This meant that at least Mary would be able to enjoy all that we had planned. But when the time for her test arrived she received a phone call from the medical staff instead to inform her that the South African authorities had decreed that no Covid testing could be done while the ship was in their port. Sounds strange that they would care about administering a test on the ship rather than just about whether a person disembarked in their port. But the result was that both of us would continue to be quarantined in our cabin throughout the stay in Cape Town.
We were sorry to miss Maputo and Durban, but missing Cape Town was a serious disappointment to us. This lengthy quarantine in a small room with one window was the first time we had felt that lacking a veranda to enable us at least to step outside made a big difference in our experience on board. We have only one picture from Cape Town, a pathetic partial view of Table Mountain over a port building from our window.
So, as we finally sailed away from Cape Town toward our next stop in Namibia, the Covid quarantine continued. Stay tuned.
Andoany, Nosy Be, Madagascar (Day 2) 2022
Because Madagascar has been an isolated island ecosystem for many millions of years its plants and animals have evolved independently from those you find everywhere else. In fact about 90% of the animal and plant species here are endemic to Madagascar and found naturally nowhere else in the world. The most famous of these is the Lemur. So on the morning of November 16 we tendered back in to the dock at Nosy Be to meet up with our excursion to Lokobe National Park for the Lemur part of our visit to Madagascar.
The dock area was very busy, not only with Zaandam passengers but with locals catching a boat to take them to their work places. We had to wait a very long time before our speedboat was ready for us to board for the trip to Lokobe, the primary home of wild lemurs in this area (you can see some in semi-captivity elsewhere but we wanted to visit them in their natural homes).
After a lengthy boat ride we came ashore on a beach. It was a “wet landing,” which means you step out of the boat into the water and wade ashore. There is what appears to be a small village on the edge of the forest by the beach, which we think may be called Ampasipohy. There were boats around so it is likely a fishing village, probably with some agriculture, but it is certainly used to receiving travelers. When we arrived folks were busily setting out their products for sale. We saw no evidence that these clothes, embroidered table cloths and souvenirs were being produced in the village, so were they made in Madagascar or somewhere else, like China? It was hard to tell.
The point of this trip was to walk through the very tall and dense forest to see lemurs and other fauna. We were led by a couple of guides who knew the area very well and were able to spot lemurs high in the tree branches. As we had found on our African safari in 2018, even when they pointed the animals out to us it was often difficult for us to see them.
There are more than 100 species of lemur in Madagascar. There once were some as big as gorillas but they, along with about 15 other species, have become extinct since these islands were populated by humans. Most of the lemur species are now endangered, primarily because of rapidly shrinking habitat, but lemurs are also hunted for food by some. Lokobe has been a protected refuge for these interesting critters since 1927 and it became a national park in 2014.
The lemurs we saw here are called Black Lemurs, something of a misnomer because only the males are black. The females are mostly brown to yellow in color with white around their faces. This forest is populated by very tall trees, some 100 feet tall and hundreds of years old. The lemurs were high in the branches and difficult to see from the ground, particularly when hiding behind leaves. We passed a baby lemur hanging onto a tree trunk in heavy shadow. Lemurs have a very intense countenance, with bright unblinking eyes that we understand are caused by reflective tissue in the back of their eyes.
Lemurs are not the only interesting animals in this park. Almost half of the 200+ species of chameleons in the world are endemic to Madagascar. We saw two species of chameleon. One was relatively large, facing down on a tree trunk. He (or she) was so well camouflaged that even after it was pointed out by others Rick had trouble seeing it until moving to the side (possibly a gecko, but we think it was a chameleon). The others were very tiny, about the size of a thumbnail. One of our guides showed them to us on a leaf. A new species of chameleon was just discovered in 2021 called Brookesia Nana, which is the smallest reptile in the world. But it may also have been Brookesia minima, which is the third smallest reptile in the world and is common in these parts.
We also saw a very tiny but brightly colored frog that one of out guides found and showed us, again on a leaf. We think this was an Orange Backed Mantella, also endemic to northern Madagascar, because of its coloring (scientific name Mantella ebenaui ). The bright coloring apparently deters predators wary of eating poisonous frogs (which these may actually be). It appeared that the only reason it didn’t hop away was the guide’s thumb on one of its back feet.
We encountered a boa constrictor, about 5 feet long, entwined on some branches in a tree. Since it was in a tree we think this must be a Madagascar Tree Boa. They live in the trees during the day but hunt on the ground at night.
Finally, there was a tiny gecko (we think), almost invisible among the brown leaves on the path. We might have stepped on it if the guide hadn’t pointed it out in time.
It was a pretty long hike back to the village over tricky terrain and the group got rather strung out. I was near the end and looking up (dangerous when walking because of the roots over the path) when I saw a couple of lemurs high in a tree. I felt pretty good about spotting them all by myself with no guides around. As before they mostly looked like shadows and I couldn’t tell what they were doing, but I took several pictures of them anyway since you never know what you will see when you enlarge and brighten them on the computer.
I was pretty surprised when I saw them on the computer. It was a male (black) and female (mostly brown) lemur and it looked like they were engaged in a passionate activity. As Cole Porter might say, “Birds do it, bees do it, even lemurs high in trees do it . . . . “ You will see what I mean when you get to the pictures. Alas, I later discovered using Google that the mating season for lemurs is in the Spring, and each female’s fertile period only lasts a couple of days. We were there in November so that couldn’t have been what they were doing. Probably grooming each other, although the female sure looked like she was enjoying it, at least until she noticed me watching.
As we neared the village we passed many vendors, mostly of embroidered table cloths, and what looked like a farm. We had to wait in the village for more than an hour for our lunch to be prepared because it apparently wasn’t started until we got back. What, didn’t they think we would make it back? The buffet of local food was eventually set out and was pretty good. Some of the guides and villagers sang for us, including their national anthem, in the thatched lunch hut.
After all this we walked down the long beach to the speed boats that would take us back to the tender dock. The tide seemed to have come in somewhat since there was a deeper wet embarkation than in the morning. The beach was quite beautiful. It was a long trip back to the dock and unfortunately we were sitting in the front part of the boat. The boat pilots (there were several boats) seemed to be racing each other and as the boat climbed a wave we were thrown out of our seats about 5 inches and when the boat went back down we hit the seats again, hard. Of course, the pilot in the back of the boat didn’t feel any of this. When you are piloting a speed boat full of older passengers more care should be taken; we had to hold on tight just to stay in our seats. It was a beautiful trip, but by the end of that ride our bodies felt pretty much broken and it took several days to recover. We hope Holland America makes sure that doesn’t happen again on future visits.
So that was it for our visit to Madagascar. We sailed away toward the southern part of the African continent past a very nice Indian Ocean sunset.
Andoany, Nosy Be, Madagascar (Day 1) 2022
On November 15 we were anchored near Andoany, the largest town on the island of Nosy Be near the northern tip of Madagascar. The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean some 250 miles from the east coast of Africa and Nosy Be is about 5 miles from the coast of Madagascar. Madagascar seems to have been first settled between 1500 and 2500 years ago by people from present day Indonesia and the heritage of the modern Malagasi populace is largely a combination of African and Southeast Asian. Madagascar was ruled by the French from 1897 until independence was achieved in 1960.
Nosy Be, which means “Big Island” in Malagasy, is about 123 square miles and its population is in excess of 109,000. The French took control of Nosy Be in 1840 and founded an outpost named “Hell-Ville,” now Andoany. With a name like that we thought at first this might not be a pleasant visit but it turns out the town was originally named after a French admiral named Anne Chretien Louis de Hell. It is the capital of the island with a population, at last count a decade ago, of about 40,000.
We were scheduled to visit here during the world cruise in 2018. In fact, in anticipation one of the entertainment officers had obtained a lemur suit he wore on occasion on the ship (lemurs are famously endemic to Madagascar and we will get to them in more depth tomorrow). But we were unable to stop in this port in 2018 because of an outbreak of plague(!) in parts of Madagascar. So today was our first visit here. This was a tender port, so in the morning we boarded a tender boat to the port to meet the excursion we had booked. On the way in we passed a number of small boats.
We piled into vans at the dock to begin the excursion, which included a number of lengthy drives over often unpaved roads littered with rocks. As you can imagine, it was a very bumpy ride. But these roads did take us into back country with a passing view of how people live here. We saw quite a lot of poverty and we have read since that they were in the midst of a two year famine. Not pretty, but real life. When we reached the village that was our first stop there was a fairly long walk past what looked like a farm on very uneven ground. They had geese (or ducks?) and what looked like red peppers drying in the sun on a table.
We stopped here to visit the sacred tree of Nosy Be (yes, that rhymes). Located near the coast by the small village of Mahatsinjo, this huge Banyan tree is said to have been planted in 1800 and was declared sacred by the Queen of the island in 1836. Even today the Queen of Nosy Be makes a sacrifice at this tree every year and several hundred pilgrims pray and leave offerings every month. Banyans are in the Ficus family (like the one you may have in your living room) and as you can see in the pictures they spread by sending new shoots down from branches to the ground, where they root and turn into additional trunks. We have read that lemurs live high in the branches of this tree but we didn’t see any. We think the cloths hung around some of the tree trunks may have been offerings. The tree’s root system is vast with many large and thick roots spreading over each other like a giant web that covers, we are told, some 5,000 square feet (or maybe it was meters).
During the long drive on unpaved roads to our lunch spot we passed several ylang-ylang plantations. The aromatic oil from ylang-ylang flowers is widely used in perfumes and is an important export for Madagascar, where it is produced in great quantities. Because of this, Nosy Be has sometimes been known as Nosy Manitra (the scented island). Ylang-Ylang is a Spanish mispronunciation of a Tagalog term for “wilderness,” where these trees originally grew in the Philippines. This tree grows very fast, sometimes in excess of 20 feet per year, to an average height of about 40 feet. But in Madagascar the trees are heavily pruned, which keeps all the flowers within reach of harvesters on the ground and also stimulates the tree to produce more flowers. As a result the trees are very strange looking, close to the ground and wide spreading. Our guide picked a flower for us to see, but we did not get out of the van to examine the trees more closely.
We stopped for lunch at a small fishing village reached by a long drive over dirt (and rock) roads. There was a small beach with houses along its edge and a number of small boats on land and in the water. It was low tide so the water’s edge was pretty far from the beach.
A fish lunch was set out on a buffet on the porch of the building where it was cooked (a restaurant? probably not in such a small place). We weren’t particularly hungry and the lunch was not included in the excursion so we sat on the porch and had a local Three Horses beer. There was a beautiful view of the beach and the bay from the thatch covered porch.
We walked around the village, past a colorful monument in the center of town, and viewed some of the agricultural fields and houses. Some young women with engagingly painted faces were operating a souvenir stand.
It was another long drive to our next stopping point. As before, we passed rural buildings with fields and animals. In many parts of Africa, including Madagascar, the traditional method of carrying things on top of the head is still practiced.
Mount Passot is one of the tallest mountains on Nosy Be (it is usually called the tallest, but we have seen maps showing Mount Lokobe being taller, so who knows). We drove there and walked to the top of the mountain to see the magnificent panoramic view of the ocean and the crater lakes below, left there by volcanoes. The hike up the hill was pretty steep but accompanied by many colorful flowers. We believe that the island in the distance is Nosy Sakatia. Coming down we walked through a craft shop and passed more flowers, plus mango and papaya trees.
We drove down the mountain and along some roads to an ocean front town called Dzamandzar, the second largest city on Nosy Be with a population of about 19,000. We passed a number of rural scenes glowing in the setting sun. This city has somewhat famous balloon houses, which we stopped briefly to visit. It was rush hour and the traffic was slow and crowded. We had seen Dzamandzar in the distance from Mt Passot.
From here we started what seemed like a very long and bumpy ride back to the port. By the time we arrived it was dark, so not many pictures in the town. We will leave you here with some of the scenes on the drive to the port, and if you are wondering about all those nasty looking clouds, no it didn’t rain.
Zanzibar, Tanzania (Day 2) 2022
We were still in Zanzibar on November 13 after spending the night anchored beyond the ferry port (which is on the left in this picture from the ship).
After tendering in to shore we had a fun day exploring Stone Town with our friends Bill & Robert. Stone Town is the old part of the city of Zanzibar, located on the edge of the Indian Ocean. It started out in the 11th century as a small fishing village called Shangani. The Portuguese took control of the island in the 15th century and built a church in Shangani in the early 16th and later a fort. But early in the 17th century the Portuguese were ousted and the Omani Sultan invited in to protect the island. When the Omani Sultan moved his capital here from Muscat in 1840 the town’s development escalated. In 1861 Zanzibar was separated from Oman as part of a royal succession dispute and in 1890 the British made it a protectorate, a status that lasted until independence was achieved in the revolution of 1964. Later that year Zanzibar and Tanganyika merged to become Tanzania.
After leaving the ship’s tender at the Ferry Port we started walking along the water, where we passed many boats and could see Zaandam anchored off shore in the Indian Ocean.
In the mid 19th century Zanzibar was something of a boomtown as a major hub for trade in spices, ivory and slaves. It was in the 1830’s that the iconic stone buildings began to appear here. They are mostly built with coral stone and limestone, not particularly sturdy building materials, and in recent years a large number of buildings have deteriorated. Substantial conservation efforts have been underway since the 1990’s but some of the most important buildings have partially collapsed or are too dangerous to enter.
The first important building we came to, the Old Dispensary, was renovated in the 1990’s by the Aga Khan trust (his sister was a high school friend of Rick’s sister back in the 1970’s). Its original construction began in 1887 with the intention that it would be a hospital for the poor. But its sponsor died before completion and the new owner decided to use the ground floor as a dispensary and the floors above for apartments. It fell into disuse and decay after the 1964 revolution when its Indian owners, like most Indians here, fled the country. The building’s delightful architecture is a mixture of Indian, Swahili and European influences. Today it sits behind a construction wall so there must be new problems being addressed.
The Sultan’s Palace was built in the late 19th century. It replaced a previous palace on the same spot that was destroyed in 1896 during the Anglo Zanzibar War. After Britain established its protectorate here in 1890 it expected to be able to choose a Sultan who would be compliant with British policies, the most contentious of which was the abolition of slavery, a lucrative business in Zanzibar. When the Sultan died in 1896 and the British designated a new one, another contender claimed the throne and holed up in the palace with a contingent of almost 3,000 loyal troops and a navy consisting of the armed royal yacht. When he rejected a British ultimatum to stand down by 9:00 AM on August 27 five British ships opened fire on the palace. Within 45 minutes the war ended when the Sultan surrendered, the shortest war on record. The new Sultan selected by the British then had the new palace built to replace the one damaged by the warships. After the 1964 socialist revolution it was renamed “People’s Palace” and became a government office.
Today it is a museum. You will notice that its white facade is marred by black streaks and blotches which we assume is mold. This was true of many of the white buildings in Stone Town. Also like many buildings in Stone Town, the palace has some beautiful carved wood doors not unlike the one we saw in Bagamoyo. There are hundreds of these doors here, some rectangular and others with rounded tops. The pointed brass knob decoration is a style imported from India where they were reputedly used to deter war elephants from bashing the gates of fortified buildings. You will see a lot of these in today’s episode and while they share an overall style each one is different.
The Old Customs House on the waterfront is where the new sultan was proclaimed in 1896 after the old palace had been destroyed in the war. Originally built in the 18th century, it has a distinctive enclosed veranda added later and a nice Zanzibari door, which might be the one in the picture below.
The House of Wonders was built in 1883 to serve as a ceremonial palace for official receptions. With a 19th century modern design, its name came from being the first building in Zanzibar wired for electricity and the first building in East Africa with an elevator. Its large main door was said to be designed to enable the Sultan to ride an elephant through it. In 1897 it was renovated to repair some damage during the Anglo Zanzibar War and a clock tower was added to the center of the facade. The British used it for government offices after 1911 and it was converted into a school after the revolution in 1964. After the millennium it became the House Of Wonders Museum.
The building is now closed and will hopefully be repaired and restored. Large sections of the veranda collapsed in 2012 and part of the roof in 2015. Then much of the front facade,including the clock tower, collapsed in 2020. As you can see in the pictures, it is now behind a corrugated construction wall and a huge canvas is draped over the right half of the building that now lacks a roof and most of its facade. A sad sight indeed.
The Old Fort was built by the Omanis at the end of the 17th century when they ousted the Portuguese and took control of Zanzibar. It was made of stone and meant largely to protect the city from another European invasion. It was built on the spot where the Portuguese had built the first church on the island and is now the oldest building in the city. It was used as a prison in the 19th century and a railroad depot in the early 20th. In 1994 an amphitheater was built inside and today it is a cultural center and home to the Zanzibar International Film Festival. One of the towers at the fort’s corners is a display space for local arts and crafts and it gives a fine view of the whole courtyard (Rick and Robert climbed up to see it). One side of the wall in the courtyard is lined with vendors’ stands selling clothing and souvenirs.
Raise your hand if you recognize the name of Zanzibar native Farrokh Bulsara. He was born here in 1946 and grew up to be the world famous singer Freddie Mercury of the band Queen. Maybe you knew that but we didn’t before we began planning this trip. We visited the Freddie Mercury museum in Stone Town. It is small and filled mostly with photos and explanatory signs with few artifacts other than some costumes and a piano he played here as a boy. The museum opened in 2019.
After this we had an interesting time walking around Stone Town’s spider web of narrow streets, most too narrow for cars but not for motorcycles. We passed many distinctive Zanzibari doors. We have read that in 1990 there were some 400 of them here but now its down to about 250 because of deterioration and selling of doors to wealthy foreigners. The stone benches you can see lining the building walls in some of these streets are called Barazas. They have a long history here, serving as places to sit down and socialize and as elevated walkways when streets are flooded during the rainy season. Many of the streets themselves are paved with stone tiles. You may also notice the maze of electrical and (we presume) telephone wires hanging above the streets, which is a little scary.
During this walk we passed the “Shangan Post Office,” built in 1906. You will recall that Shangani was the name of the original fishing village here and this neighborhood is where it was located. We also passed the impressive and well maintained Sunni Madressa School, painted bright green and white, which was built in 1998 according to the sign over the door.
Christ Church, the Anglican cathedral in Zanzibar, was opened on Christmas day in 1879 and consecrated as a cathedral in 1903. The biggest slave market in Zanzibar operated on these grounds and the church was built here to celebrate the end of slavery, with the altar located where the whipping post had been. Inside there is a cross made from the wood of the tree in modern Zambia where David Livingstone’s heart was buried (at his direction) before his body was carried to Zanzibar for shipment to England. We were told that the marble pillars inside were installed upside down, but when the architect saw them he decided they should be left as is.
In the church yard is a haunting sculpture group titled “Memory For The Slaves,” made in Bagamoyo and installed here in 1998. There were bright flowers nearby and several carved doors in the side of the church.
Under the church is the old slave quarters from when this was a slave market, which we had visited yesterday with Aziza. It is very dark and cramped but some 75 slaves were kept here at a time. Chains with manacles are still attached to some of the benches. This is a very sobering place to visit.
After all this we decided we were hungry so we set out for a late lunch. Bill had read about a couple of restaurants he wanted to try but they were closed. So we walked for a while before coming to a nice beach front restaurant called “6 degrees South,” which is Zanzibar’s location relative to the equator. On the way we passed some more interesting buildings, a market area and, yes, more Zanzibari doors.
The restaurant had very good food, good local beer and a nice view of the ocean. Since it was past the normal lunch hour we had the place almost to ourselves.
We took the ship’s shuttle bus back to the ferry dock. The stop was next to a nice hotel where we waited about 15 minutes for it. Some kids were playing soccer outside. The ferry terminal was very crowded, apparently because a ferry had just arrived and offloaded a lot of passengers. We made our way through to the dock & tendered back to the ship. We sailed away about 5:30 as the sun was going down and later there was a very nice sunset to finish our enriching stay in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar, Tanzania (Day 1) 2022
We anchored across from the ferry terminal in Zanzibar early in the morning of November 12 for an overnight stay. Zanzibar City sits on the island of Unguja some 22 miles across the water from Bagamoyo and maybe 50 miles from Dar es Salaam. Originally occupied by Bantu speaking people about 2,000 years ago it was controlled by the Portuguese for 200 years starting in the 15th century. They were expelled in the 17th century and the Sultan of Oman was invited to take power to protect Zanzibar from them. In the 1890’s the British established a protectorate that lasted until 1964 when a revolution that cost some 20,000 lives ousted the British and established a socialist government, which then merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania.
We tendered ashore to join our expedition at the port. From there we had a fairly long ride in a large van to the Jozani National Park, a rainforest that is the only national park on Zanzibar.
The Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey is a species endemic to the Zanzibar archipelago. While there are other species of Red Colobus elsewhere in Africa the one living only in Zanzibar is considered the most endangered primate species in Africa. We have seen estimates of its total population between 1,000 and 3,000, but the first number seems closer. They live in trees and eat young leaves, flowers and unripe fruit. About half of them live in the Jozani forest. Apparently this species separated from others about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago when a rise in sea levels isolated them on these islands. Their name derives from the reddish brown color that covers most of their backs and the back of their heads.
We drove in the vans to an area of the forest where the guides said the monkeys would be for lunchtime. We had to hike into the woods over very uneven paths but not too far before they pointed out the first monkeys.
You can see below the monkeys’ stylish reddish brown backs. In case you are wondering why they are often looking away, think about how you would feel if a horde of camera wielding tourists crowded around you. I think I would face the other way too. Most of the ones who didn’t face completely away were obscured behind leaves and branches. We visited during mating season, so there were babies with their mothers.
Yes, we were part of that crowd of visitors; what else could we do? Fortunately the monkeys didn’t really seem to mind, since they are undoubtedly used to these visits. We did manage to get some pictures of monkeys looking our way. You will notice that from the front there is no indication they have any reddish fur. Instead, they are black and white with pretty wild punk like hair shooting out of their heads.
Jozani also features a mangrove forest. It’s kind of swampy and dark but the root patterns are interesting, particularly when there are so many of them. Mangroves are valuable along the water’s edge where they help keep the banks from eroding and provide habitat for fish and small animals. I saw a red crab on a forked log in the water when I stepped onto a small wooden bridge but by the time I got the camera raised into position (maybe a second) it had scurried into the fork. Still visible, but less so, and it was so fast.
Our next destination was a spice farm, but it was a long drive enabling us to see something of the countryside as we passed. Among other things, there was a small neighborhood mosque (we think), several produce markets and a cow in somebody’s front yard. There was plenty of poverty to be seen but what looked like nice places as well.
Zanzibar has long been known as a source of spices, especially cloves. At the Maganga Spice Farm we were given a tour of a number of different kinds of spice trees and also a lunch. We sat out in the open on long benches while the food was piled on tables, then brought to us by the farm’s personnel. We filled our plates with several kinds of local food, then discovered after eating all of it that there was much more to come, distributed in waves. The food was very good, particularly the ripe local fruit like mangoes and pineapple. In the yard where we were eating some chickens were looking for scraps (they undoubtedly have a lot of experience with groups like ours).
After lunch we were treated to a demonstration of cocoanut harvesting. A fellow tied his feet together and shimmied up a palm trunk, singing all the way. He was very good & very fast . . . I’m pretty certain we couldn’t do that.
After the demonstration we were all given hats woven from palm leaves with red flowers in them, different styles for men and women. Men were also given woven palm ties and women combination rings and bracelets. Very silly looking but fun anyway.
After all this we headed back to town. The excursion agenda included a guided walking tour of Stone Town, the old town of Zanzibar City. The guides in each bus encouraged us to agree to skip this as everyone (including them) was tired. We were told that most of the buses settled for a drive by (the streets of Stone Town are too narrow for a bus). But most of the folks on our bus were up for a walking tour and our guide, Aziza, agreed to do it. We dropped a few people off at the ferry dock then we all left the bus for our tour. Although she was as tired as the others and probably would have preferred to skip it, Aziza led us through Stone Town for an hour and a half, skillfully explaining what we were seeing. She was a trouper who deserved (and received) a very good tip.
Since we spent the entire second day in Zanzibar exploring Stone Town I will save most of that discussion for the next episode. We walked through the Old Fort, originally built by the Portuguese and the oldest building in town. We saw a number of elaborately carved doors, somewhat similar to what we had seen in Bagamoyo, which can be seen throughout Stone Town. And we stopped into an Anglican church built on the spot where the slave market had been in order to commemorate the abolition of slavery. In its basement we visited the cells where new slaves were crowded into an area too cramped to permit standing up.
We tendered back to the ship after a rewarding day, looking forward to returning to Stone Town in the morning to explore it in more depth.