Happy New Year from Zanzibar

26-31 December, 2018 Racoco Villa, Jambiani, Zanzibar.

We are staying in Jambiani on the south east coast of Zanzibar. It’s hot. Really hot. Certainly in the 30’s with high humidity. The airbnb we’ve rented is about 50m away from the beach… but we don’t seem to get the cooling ocean breeze that the waterfront hotels may get in the evenings. At least the bedrooms have fans, but it is still very hot and difficult to sleep.

The area itself is pleasant and extremely laid back. The locals are very friendly and all the 4-5 yr old kids say ‘Jambo!’ (Hi!) and give us high fives as we walk by. The waterfront hotels here tend to be very small with 6-10 rooms. The larger town of Paje is a few km north, and we can see the glare of the bigger hotel lights there. The luxury hotels are even farther away at the northern tip of the island.

Unlike every other ‘non-western’ beachfront tourist destination we’ve seen, the locals come out and use the beach too, but they are sensible and wait until the evening when it is cooler. There were a bunch of small kids playing soccer while others dug up clams and the parents watched. I’m glad we’re sharing the beach rather than just taking it over. The locals’ fishing dhows are anchored just a few hundred metres down the shore. Hopefully it will remain like that… but that’s not what we’ve seen elsewhere.

Zanzibar is one of the world destinations for kite boarding, and four of us have signed up for kiteboarding lessons. Jambiani seems to be well situated for lessons: a shallow sandy bottom with the occasional sea urchin, and it’s a few km away from the two spots where the dozens of experienced boarders sail. Unfortunately, after two good days of wind, the wind died, so we have not been able to finish the course. This has happened to use before, and we think the best solution is just to buy our own kites and learn back at home.

We’ve rented a little 4 wheel drive suzuki, and we’ve done ok so far with Mark navigating & David driving. It’s about 1 hour from east to west coast, and three hours from north to south, so nothing is very far. There are police checks every once in a while, and we’ve been stopped eight times so far in our various drives around the island. It’s not just us – pretty well everyone gets stopped. They have all been pleasantly chatty and wanted to see our paperwork. Some asked if we were a family, where we were from, how long we had been in Zanzibar, and why we were driving when every else took tours. Others just wanted to give me a cool handshake just like you’d see two football players doing after scoring a touchdown.

We enjoyed Stone Town and the Jozani National Forest. Otherwise we’ve been melting in the room, or hanging out at “The Spot” restaurant and hotel, which is where Siren Pro Kiteboarding is located.

I’ve been playing with my camera: it can take pictures completely silently, and it will focus on any faces in the vewfinder, so all the market pictures were shot from the hip without me looking like a camera toting tourist!

We’ve had a quiet New Years and early bed because everyone hasn’t been sleeping well due to the heat. We plan to celebrate over breakfast on 1 January: midnight in Calgary is actually 10AM here. Then we leave in the afternoon to fly to Mafia Island for diving and hopefully snorkeling with Whalesharks.

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