When I got stuck in Zanzibar...
So after my family left (Mum and Dad off to South Africa, and Lee, H and Alex went home), I moved to a Mnarani Beach Cottages. I was sat writing on their decking at the bar, when I was joined by a lady named Rayanne who I had met the night before at dinner, we had hit it off immediately over tears and beers (well not me, we all know I avoid the alcohol!) She is hilarious, and we talked for hours again! We decided to go for a walk and explore the area. I wanted to show her our previous hotel Hideaway and how beautiful Nungwi is (which is actually Kendwa, but for some reason the hotel says it’s in Nungwi).
This was right next to our hotel, and an obvious place to visit for me. We had a fab tour learning all about why they had the turtles in a sanctuary and how they were protecting them. They explained that due to over fishing and nets that the turtles get caught in, as well as turtle hunting directly, the numbers had been rapidly declining. So they started collecting the babies once they had hatched and growing them in the sanctuary. They then moved them to their natural pool until they were about 15 years old and then released them to mate and lay eggs. They then start the cycle again with their offspring. It was a real shame that they had to be here, but seemed like it was a necessity to conserve the species, and their aim was to grow the population and educate the locals so that at some point the population would be big enough again to withstand any pressures, and to hopefully stop the hunting too.
We then swam with the kids that were playing outside the sanctuary. They were jumping off the rocks and were highly amused by me joining in! After our swim we explored for hours, which was lovely, and then started walking back a little too late so we were walking in the dark. I wasn’t a fan of this and so we marched back as quick as we could and then went to get ready to go out and listen to some music/have a dance.
We had a great few days hanging out and then Rayanne left to visit a different part of the island, whilst I got on with some writing, and very important sunbathing.
For my last few days on Zanzibar I wanted to see some of the spice capital, so toured around Stone Town. It’s so full of old architecture and a big mish mash of different cultures; I really enjoyed taking it all in. I stayed in The Zanzibar Hotel, which had lovely rooms and was a lot cheaper than Kendwa and Nungwi. The breakfast was huge also, always a winner for me!
I managed to find a veggie restaurant called Radha Food House; it was Indian, and delicious. I ordered way too much though as I wanted to try everything, but got to try some traditional foods that would have been eaten here a long time ago.
Slave Trade Exhibit
One of the main reasons I came here was to visit the Slave Trade Exhibit they had at the Old Slave Market. It was very well laid and out and so informative. I walked around holding back the tears; it’s unbelievable to think that this kind of thing happened and STILL does. The exhibition also discussed how the slave trade is still rampant all over the world; shocking!
Some of the real-life accounts told of women having their babies ripped from their arms and thrown to the bush and being made to walk on; of people being clubbed to death that couldn’t walk on anymore due to exhaustion and lack of food; of ships coming in to port full of slaves and to avoid paying taxes on the ill or old slaves, they would just leave them on the ships to starve and die and then throw the bodies overboard, sometimes even throwing them over alive to drown. It begs belief how anyone could do this, and it was done on an enormous scale! It makes one question the human mind and the ability to ignore the obvious connectedness between all people, and completely separate oneself from another and off the back of that to carry out heinous crimes in the name of profit and power. It makes me feel sick to my stomach. And terribly this is the way a lot of the world still operates. With segregation of any kind, comes ego about ‘them and us’; and that can only ever lead to pain and suffering. The sooner we all realise that any difference is what makes us all unique and should be embraced. We are ALL different but yet as one, and the power that comes from knowing that you are part of all, now that’s real power. It’s love.
"Hate can’t heal the hate in the world, only love can"
The last parts of the exhibit were real life areas that used to be used, that had been preserved to demonstrate how awful things were. There were 2 tiny underground rooms that had a raised floor and a gutter through the middle. The information explained that up to 70 people were kept in each room, women and children in one, men in another, whilst waiting for the market. It felt cramped with 2 or 3 people in there and the ceiling was so low, how was it even possible to fit 70 people in?! We then headed to the actual old market and they have produced statues in a memorial; beautiful but tragic all at the same time.
I left feeling heavy and fathoming how the world is like this. This is a recurring feeling for me and one I often visit in meditation and quiet reflection time. I think that it can be an overwhelming thing to ponder, but by doing our part ourselves as individuals and allowing that love to spread into our every interaction, we can make a difference. We are all here for a purpose, and yes they may be different, but in essence, finding peace and stillness within and being love is at the base of all of that and the only thing that can change the world. Also standing up for what is right, even at times when that’s hard; we can’t turn a blind eye to wrongdoings, we need to protect each other and know that we are all connected and something done badly to one person or animal or the environment, affects us all (karma).
Another must in Stone Town is just to wonder round the maze of little alleys and see where you get to. I did this and ended up at a beautiful art shop. What was even better was one of the artists was there working, so I got to watch him whilst he created. I chose a small painting of his for myself that really caught my eye, plus one for my sister that she had requested me to look out for. They were such a reasonable price, and personal too as I had seen him work and spent some time finding out about his story; the perfect end to my adventure around the maze.
NB: If anyone is interested in some Zanzibar/African art, let me know. I am trying to connect some of these artists online and have many photos of what they have on offer. They can be shipped to you cheaply in protected roll tubes; easy peasy!
The day before my flight back to Uganda I was walking around exploring some more and came to a place they call ‘Jaws corner’. It actually has that painted on the wall! It is a place where you find many men hanging out, putting the world to rights, just drinking tea and sharing stories. I decided to sit and soak up the atmosphere a little and as I sat I saw a motorbike come around the corner and nearly hit a kitten who was walking on the path with both eyes sealed! I shouted to the bike pointing to the kitten and he quickly stopped and missed the kitten by inches. I quickly picked the kitten and could see she was a little girl with very bad flu. I asked around if the mother was here and everyone said the kitten had been alone here for a few days getting worse and worse. So why wouldn’t someone do something?! I asked about a vet and they were closed as it was Sunday. A lady nearby came over with a box and said that she had rescued many kittens and wanted to help me. I put her in the box and took her back to my hotel room to get her cleaned up. She showed herself to be a feisty little thing, she even managed to break out of the box in her blindness as I was walking along! She stayed the night in the room, I brought her milk and tried to feed her chicken scraps, but she wasn’t bothered. I was leaving the next day and couldn’t take her to Uganda, but luckily I found Zanzibar Animal Affection Society (ZAASO) online and they said as long as I could drop her at their shelter about half an hour away and pay for her treatment, they would take her in, treat her and re-home her. So on the way to the airport she was bundled back in her box and dropped at ZAASO along with money, my contact details and lots of love.
They helped her recover from the flu and sent me photos of her playing with the staff, being just as feisty as before. I had called her Kitty (easy name I know) and was asking around friends I had made in Zanzibar if any of them could rehome her once I returned. One guy agreed, but sadly she then got a chest infection and passed away. This upset me, but I was glad that at least she hadn’t carried on suffering like she was on the streets; we can only do the best we can to alleviate suffering in the world.
I was lucky enough to witness these amazing cloud transformations whilst on the plane back to Uganda...
Watch out for my next post: Kampala: one crazy city!
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