zanzibar :: stone town

Stone Town is the hub of Zanzibar. A busy commuter airport (well, they call it international, but it’s tiny) greets tourists on a daily basis. In town, the port is home to ships and ferries from the mainland. It’s a happening place with great food, hawkers, little shops, and taxis. Built as an ancient Arabic city with tiny alley ways, you can easily get lost within minutes of leaving your hotel for the first time. In no time, you’ll come across little kids playing soccer in the street or being mischievous in some way.

We only stayed in Stone Town for two nights before heading to the beach. And that was plenty of time to experience the things that I missed. In particular, there is a seaside park, Forodhani Gardens, that hosts street vendors in the evening. Rows and rows of fresh grilled fish, Zanzibar pizza, fresh pressed cane juice, and other goodies. Over the years, this food fest has become more formalized and popular, but it’s still an amazing experience to be at a park, next to the ocean, eating fresh seafood under the stars.

Before we headed to the Gardens, we watched hoards of kids jump off the seawall into the ocean below. It’s a nightly ritual and a delight to watch. Some just jump, but others have some pretty fancy maneuvers before hitting the water. The whole atmosphere is a crazy, fun energy that made me just want to jump in too!

As I wandered the streets those two days, it was difficult not to get pulled in by a little shop keeper to see his products. Pretty much all the stores are the same and I randomly choose which one to go in. There are piles of wooden statues, jewelry from the Maasai and paintings packed into these tiny spaces. I managed to leave this time without too much stuff that I already had at home – and trust me, that’s an accomplishment.