A Travellerspoint blog

Stone Town under siege

1st November 2010

The streets of the shabby-chic capital are virtually deserted. Most shops are closed in anticipation of potential riots when the election results are announced.

We are told that we may have to stay in the hotel from 3pm and need to stay alert for any signs of trouble when we are out.Our cab driver points out people gathering in the opposition area...

The streets remain quiet throughout the afternoon, with mainly tourists milling about. Yet I stay on high alert. That man over there for example: Why is he picking up a rock? As ammunition for a demo? No, he uses it to crush plastic before putting it back in the hole in the tree...

AH gets upset when he finds out that things are 2 Dollars cheaper in Stone Town than on the spice farm, but I feel it’s worth paying extra for the entertainment value of the packaging. Listen to these instructions and descriptions:
Lang lang soap: “Soap to keep your skin” (now who in their right mind would want to lose their skin??)
Clove soap: for “good smile” (or do they mean grimace?)
Tumeric soap: “acts as a cream, especially for ladies”
Cardamon coffee: Add sugar “up to your size”...

We continue to walk around completely unhindered and have time to study the architecture. Many houses are built in Moorish style, and the ones that have been renovated are stunning in their elegance. I like the old dispensary which overlooks the harbour. For a small tip we can freely explore the building.

We meet with the rest of the group for a sundowner in Africa House. When I ask for Happy Hour (in the north of the island they serve amazing cocktails at happy hour prices), the waitress gives me an incredulous look, kind of “Don’t you know where you are? This is a 4 Star hotel that was already popular in colonial times, and you now expect us to lower our standards?”

So I decide to toast the sunset with a juice rather than an overpriced G&T.

We afterwards head to the night market for some seafood, but sadly, choices are limited tonight. Only 2 stalls are open rather than the usual 30, so I never get to try “Zanzibar pizza”, a stuffed bread dish without cheese that apparently still tastes a bit like pizza.

Instead, I have a tropical pizza in Mercury’s bar (named in honour of Freddy Mercury who was born in Zanzibar).

To this day, AH disapproves of my choice, but I feel that I cannot really play Italian tourist and order a normal pizza.

I admit, the combination sounds weird: tomatoes, mozzarella, pineapple, banana, dates, oregano and basil, but somehow it works quite well: The dates give the pizza a caramelized, sweetish taste.

One thing both AH and I like is Stoney Tangawizi – sounds a bit dodgy and edgy, but it’s simply ginger beer...

Posted by TTraveller 07:40 Archived in Tanzania

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