Zanzibroke- Zanzibar on the Cheap

I could have gotten sucked into Zanzibar.  It has my happy color blue Indian Ocean, friendly people, lively vibe and lots of activity.  I only stayed about 2 weeks there as I was silly enough to book an onward flight.  To get a feel for the island, I stayed in three different areas: Stone Town (a port city in the West), Paje / Jambiani (East central), and Nungwi (North). I found the three cheapest accommodations, all of which were excellent. 

Zanzibar can be as fancy or as cheap as you like it.  There are 5-star resorts lining the aqua water and the beach is raked twice a day or you can stay across the street lured with cheap prices and bicycle rentals.  When sorting out where to stay, I really enjoyed reading the complaints for the resorts on TripAdvisor, “the roads were really terrible getting to …  Dirt roads with potholes and our driver took us thru this really dirty village.”  Wake up bitches you’re in Africa.  

Stone Town offered an inexpensive, clean, amenity stocked hostel in the center of the city walking distance to cafes, night markets and small alleys to explore.

Next stop, Jambiani just south of Paje.  The local bus from Stone Town was a noteworthy experience.  I traveled with an Aussie father and son that I had met in Dar Es Salaam and took the ferry with and would later meet again for a boat ride and some snorkel.  But back to the bus, when you think the tiny bus has reached its capacity add 12 more people, their luggage and bundles, several chickens and construction materials to build a hut.  To this day I have never traveled in such a confined box that felt more like a coffin for over 4 hours. 

I wear loose trousers on travel days for cultural respect and to avoid sticking to the narrow vinyl benches.  On this humid day in October the insides of my knees bruised from the unceasing pressure between each other.  Hips and shoulders smelted into and onto the next commuter and twisting or shifting gave way to the flesh and cloth of the next person’s body to naturally cascade into the negative space.  And once the rain came the driver and conductor shaded us with a thin blue tarp, rescuing us from the wetness, but suffocating us with the humid air of each others bodies. Jambiani is one of the last destinations on that route, so by the time I was ready to jump out I could almost straighten one leg.  

On the bus

My friendly guesthouse was walking distance to the beach and offered a sunny, private room with fast Wi-Fi, free breakfast and a mozzie net with no snags for $11 per night.  My friend Raven, that I had met on safari, was on holiday and opted for an Instagram worthy beach bungalow run by a lovely Turkish couple. They had no problem with me spending my days there indulging in the loungers as the two of us racked up a sizable daily bar tab.

The tides on the east coast would radically transform the coast twice a day.  Low tide, the water was nearly 2 km away and you would cross long white beaches with small pools.  High tide brought the waters thundering against the high rock walls and obscuring the bleached sand.  So when the moon cycle hit its fullest, the sky was ignited with a grand golden moon. Raven and I sat on her sandy porch having a beer admiring the rise of this magnificent celestial body and I returned to my comfy room across the street.  During the night with the strong tug of the great moon the high tide slinked right under Raven’s door saturating all of her belongings.

Low Tide

Nungwi, in the North, was the most special of these places.  I stayed in a dorm with decent water pressure and twice made out with a cute Danish guy that was also a guest. One of the hostel employees brought me to a small tuck shop where I could get my chips mayai fix (or heroin if I was so inclined) and the owner would get smashed off his face and polish his shotgun in the middle of the night. 

Value for Money – 10. Hospitality – 10. Cleanliness – 9, Security – could use improvement.

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