Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hello from the Spice Islands.

I really don't know how it happened, but I went from working in squalid conditions on one of the poorest nations on earth to wandering through a Sultan's palace in a remote tropical paradise.

Our resort is situated in between the home of the President and the home of the Chief Minister. Today we went wandering through Stone Town -- the oldest town in Zanzibar where spices and slaves were once traded in abundance.

Zanzibar is not really African. It is an an old Oman empire and has retained its heavy Arabic flavor -- the music, food, and architecture are all Arabic. The whole scene looks like something out of either Indian Jones or Aladdin-- I can't tell which.

Today, we saw the Sultan's palace and then went up into the hills for a tour of a spice farm. The food here lives up to the spicy reputation, and nearly every spice you can think of is grown here. No matter what I asked about, our guide came back with "that will be full grown in six months."

We also went through the fish market and chicken market. I never thought anything could be more entertaining and frightening at the same time than driving through Moshi, Kilimanjaro...but try a private van ride through Zanzibar.

Tomorrow, I do nothing but swim, rest, and snorkel. We've chartered a boat out to the tiny private island of Mnemba, which has white, coral-sand beaches, huge coral reefs, and the best diving and snorkeling in the entire region. It is our last semblance of rest and vacation before we go back to our volunteer work, our grueling mountain climb, and an English winter. Somewhere near the summit of Kilimanjaro, or three-fourths up the way of a winter climb on Mont Blanc, I will picture myself snorkeling around a private island in the Indian Ocean and flying with sting rays.


tales_from_the_crib said...

sounds cool! the snorkeling and all...oh, and it's been a while since you posted on the harry potter phenomenon and whatnot, but seriously, the golden compass is twice as good and also british adolescent literature, it's just that hp is popular...anyway, have fun with the R&R

Amanda said...

Sounds awesome - glad you're having such a great experience! Dan and I are having a great time following your adventures on the blog. Keep posting and send a hug to Sarah from me.