From Arusha to Zanzibar

Thu, 7 Feb 2002 02:35:33 +0800

I am typing this message from an internet cafe near the beach in Zanzibar. This in my second day on the island.

2 days ago to Arusha following a 6 day tour (more on that later, in a separate message). It was getting to about 6:00pm. That's really too late to check out buses, meaning I would have to do that in the morning.

It's a long haul to Dar Es Sallam, much less all the way to Zanzibar. And you don't want to get into Dar after dark. Going out on the same day as I make arrangements requires being rather quick and early about things.

"Quick" and "early" are not terms well understood among Africans, except as opportunities to swindle extra money from the muhzoongoons.

I was out there about 7:45am. I found a bus that seemed ok (it's hard tell, really). The bus left at 9:00, passengers should show up at 8:30am. It would be close but I figured I could still manage to get back to guest house, eat breakfast, and return in time.

I got the bus station at 8:50 and was advised that there had been an error and the bus had a actually left at 8:30. Whether that information was true or not was impossible to determine. None of the ticket offices seem to labeled in any way and neither are the representatives. I ended up on another bus (after buying another ticket as well as paying a probably bogus baggage fee). I was told I could sort things out with the first company in Dar. I didn't really believe that but I figured the extra $16-$20 wouldn't kill me. The bus, scheduled to leave at 9:00am, actually left about 9:40am.

About many hours on a bus that, as far as I could tell, had no toilet, I arrived in Dar Es Sallam less than 30 minutes before dark. The overpriced taxi driver/taut wanted me to go the place that he was hawking. After checking on the Jambo Inn, I went along with the plan. The taut's place was slightly nicer but it was also further away and, literaly, off my map. The restaurant didn't seem to be as good either and there were no other muhzoons as far as I could see.

In morning, the taut/taxi driver was supposed to take me to a ferry with which he had supposedly worked out a deal. He didn't show and, frankly, I was kind of relieved. A hotel employee guided me to the docks where I managed to book a first class ticket to Zanzibar for 25,000 Tsh. That's a little more than $25, a fair bit less than the taut had told me. It cost me another 2000 Tsh in tips between the hotel employee and the ferry taut. "Help", even unsolicited, is seldom free.

It was about 3.5 hours to Zanzibar. The few other muhzoons were on the upper deck having paid only for the 5000 Tsh 3rd class fare.

This was really the first time I had carried the full pack for a significant distance. I was very hot and it felt very heavy. Another taut was trying to guide me but, despite this, I still managed to find a good place. It wasn't exactly the place I looking for, but it was on the short list. Later I found out that my targeted guest house was closed for renovation.

Melindi's Guesthouse is the most expensive place I have stayed at in Africa. It costs me ~ $15/night for a single with no air conditioning and shared facilities. This compared to >$5/night in Arusha for similar and slightly more than $10/night in Dar for place in AC. Despite this, I will probably stay here for at least as long as I am in Zanzibar Town. All the accommodation is more expensive here. The view of the harbor from the top floor bar is excellent.

I will write more later. I need to find lunch now. I'd like to find a good photo processing lab too, but I'm not optimistic.


Dahoes near Zanzibar Town

Dahoes near Zanzibar Town