Written By Duane Stacey, 27 July 2019
A true sense of serenity set in as I arrived in rural Zanzibar paradise of coconut trees and blue seas lapping the doorstep of my room. I involuntarily but happily dozed off under the semi-attached thatched lapa which offered some protection from the midday heat.
Jambiani’s beachfront is littered with small eateries all reliant on the resident skippers’ catch of the day. I found an assortment of concrete, tin-roofed structures and it was not long before I was indulging in the local cuisine. It is noticeable how valuable tourism is for the locals of Zanzibar. Many of them have taken it upon themselves to ensure that visitors feel welcome and are well looked after. With the moon glistening on the calm sea, I sauntered back to my bungalow after dinner and crawled in under the mosquito nets to listen to the seaside serenade.
The morning brought about an entirely new landscape, as if someone had let out the bath plug. The water which had lapped my doorstep was now a distant oasis. This new desert-like landscape fashioned by the changing tides left me intrigued and I set out to explore.
This part of the island has an abundance of seaweed farms. The low tide offers local women the chance to harvest their crops, which are ultimately shipped to Europe and Asia for use in cosmetic products.
Zanzibar is also a renowned kite-surfing destination. Paje lies just around the corner and is a hive of activity when the wind blows. Kite shops offer lessons for beginners or rental equipment for those who don’t want to lug their kit along. Whilst the people of Paje are used to the kites flying around, I realised this was still a novelty in Jambiani as children of all ages flocked to the seashore to touch these outlandish contraptions. As the village excitement began to calm, I caught phrases like ‘jambo’ (hello), ‘hakuna matata’ (no worries), and ‘pole pole’ (slowly slowly) from the local dialect of Swahili that all speak of the laid back life on the island.
I spent one afternoon strolling the streets of Stone Town, the oldest part of Zanzibar, perfumed with locally produced spices and appreciating the history of a city rich in culture and architectural brilliance. As evening set in, I stumbled upon Forodhani Gardens, an evening market with an incredible selection of local cuisine – from Barracuda kebabs to freshly squeezed sugarcane and lime juice. Music and entertainment continued long into the night as locals and tourists alike united to enjoy the festivities.
After a hearty fruit-basket breakfast I was taught the basics of how to handle a dhow on the open water and we set sail towards one of the island reefs. A quick snorkel uncovered the beauty of the coral life below, splashed with the colour of hundreds of species of tropical fish. The aquarium type feel evaporated when the dangers of jellyfish, urchins and eels passed by underneath. I decided to trade my snorkel and mask for a hand line and spent the rest of the day fishing and trading tales aboard the dhow.
As my time in Jambiani drew to a close I embraced the sleepy manner of this quintessential no-worries-no-rush island village and moseyed among the backstreets to say a slow farewell to all who had made my time there laidback, lekker, and unforgettable.
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