Stone Town, Zanzibar. 20 Aug 2010
Woke up on the island of Pembe his morning after a goods night rest at the Pembe Paradise Resort Hotel out in the middle of nowhere. It's located 1 km off the paved road east of Chake Chake on the Indian Ocean and the place is awesome. It's surrounded by banana trees, coconut trees, papaya trees, and baobao trees on the reef above a clear blue lagoon. It was low tide and the local villagers were wading throughout the water collecting squid trapped in the pool behind the outer reef. The women would bring the squid to the men sitting on the shore who were smacking the squid against the rocks, killing them and softening them up for dinner. A local delicacy is fried squid in a tomato sauce.
After breakfast we drove into Chake Chake, the largest city on the island, and visited the Old Fort. Researchers have determined it was either an old fort or palace, but they weren't really sure. It has been turned into a museum of the history of Pembe and had some old artifacts dorm the period when the island was settled by merchants from Oman and pushed the natives off their land. The display also included Chinese pottery from the 15th century and had a model home that explained all the aspects of local life and all the different elements found in a home in Pembe.
Behind the Old Fort was a concrete basketball court and our guide explained that this was one of two courts on the island and the locals were pretty good, in fact, some were recruited to play basketball back in the states. Unfortunately no one was playing at the time.
We also drove down a narrow road which also served as the local market and was swarming with people. Lots of different things were for sale, including sandals, used shoes, "dead muzungo clothes," fruits, vegetables, and fish. It was very lively and colorful, even though they didn't like how our drivers were forcing their way down the narrow lane.
In the past 24 hours on Pembe i had only seen 2 other "muzungas," and that was when we had briefly stopped a government hotel outside Chake Chake. The island was closed to all foreigners just 50 years ago and white folk were still a novelty. Little kids would cry out "Muzungos!" whenever they saw us. While we waited for our ride to pick us up from the airport a sweet little girl in a black headscarf kept circling around us and couldn't stop staring at us (we had to wait 30 mins for our ride and sat on the porch outside the airport).
This afternoon we caught a twin prop plane back to Zanzibar where i jumped ship to spend the night in Stone Town and my friend continued back to his house in Dar Es Salaam. I ended up at the Tembo House Hotel, a nice place on the water with two PADI dive shops around the corner. I ended up signing up with Bahari Divers and for $100 i will get two dives, one off a reef and the other an old shipwreck, including all equipment and lunch. Since i will be diving i will have to give up my plane ticket for that evening, but can take the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam.