Nungwi and Stonetown – 24 October

After our second night at Mango Beach, it was time to leave Paje and head back to Stonetown. Our Serengeti trip was scheduled for 30 October and we had still had the Tanzania coastline, Usomburu mountains and Kilimanjaro to explore before we head back inland. Worried that the chef from the night before might have contaminated our food in an act of revenge we carefully inspected the pancakes and nutella. Semi content that whatever he did he hid really well, we ate, packed our bags and got into the Taxi arranged by the owner of Mango Beach. We took the long route via Nungwi back to Stonetown to explore the island. Nungwi is located on the northern shores of the island and thus the tourist hotspot since the beach does not get affected (as much) by the low tide and it is not as windy as the eastern side. 

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Up till now Clayton and I have managed to share sunglasses when walking on the beach because the overcast weather helped a bit to tone down the glare from the white beach but, when we arrived in Nungwi the sun was out and the reflection from the beach made it impossible to walk around. With one eye closed and the other on squinting we managed to get to a stall that sells sunglasses. R50 later and we could both see.

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Clayton rocking his wife-beater shirt that we bought in Pep in Malawi
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The ocean, carving away one wave at a time
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Swimming in the hot ocean

Our 3 hours in Nungwi was spent relaxing and swimming in the beautiful turquoise waters but as the saying goes: time flies when you are having fun and before we were ready to leave we had to get back in our Taxi. It started drizzling on the way to Stonetown where we stayed at the Funguni Hotel ($10pppn including breakfast). Tip: stay at Malindi located directly across from Funguni for the same price but it is A LOT nicer. All 5 of us snuggled up into a room that would have been claustrophobic for the 3 people it was designed for but it was cheap so we weren’t complaining.

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The Stonetown Harbour area – view from Funguni Hotel

The weather cleared up a bit – enough to venture out to show Matt’s mom Stonetown and the night market.

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Let the shopping commence!
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Law abiding citizens – no fucks given (photo credit Marcia Brunner)
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Night Market shenanigans
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Clayton making friends with a Masaai

The next day we bought tickets for the last ferry off the island that allowed us some extra shopping time but the weather went from drizzling to tropical storm – not that it could stop us from shopping. 

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“It’s raining, it’s pouring…”

Clayton was snug and very smug in his rain jacket which up till now we mocked him endlessly about. Struggling along with our newly bought umbrellas – brokered from a random guy outside the ferry’s offices, we went in search of more souvenirs and gifts. Agreeing on a time to meet the rest Clayton and I split from the others which was, in hindsight, a big mistake. While getting lost in Stonetown is one the must do things in Stonetown, the reality of it is much less romantic when it’s raining and you have a ferry to catch. With most of the small alleys flooded in knee deep, filthy water we managed to get so lost in Stonetown that we ended up being lost in the greater Zanzibar City. While the rain rendered my cell phone GPS useless it remained a very good watch, reminding me of the fast approaching departure time of the ferry.

When we finally figured out where we were (about 2km from the hotel where we left our bags that morning) we had about 10 minutes to get back to the hotel, grab our bags and make a run for the harbour – another 500m.

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One of the few moments in my life where I could identify with a cat (Photo credit Marcia Brunner)

 

Taking a taxi was not an option because the roads were flooded and the traffic was gridlocked. Running at full speed through the rain, the umbrella more a nuisance than anything else, trying to not get lost again, thoroughly soaked and half crouched over from a side stitch – an unnecessary cruel reminder of my level of unfitness – we made it to the hotel, grabbed our bags and headed to the harbour. We made it with a couple of minutes to spare.

Our late boarding meant that almost all the seats were taken but I managed to grab 2 while Marcia got another 3 next to each other. Clayton, ever the gentleman, gave his seat up to a young mother with a baby which meant he had to go sit outside. He however managed to find a warm spot on the side of the ferry in a small corridor which meant he was not out in the rain on the deck where nearly 50 people hunched together to brave the cold and rain.

When they started upgrading people to free up seats for those standing outside, the the seat next to me became vacant and I went in search of Clayton – making my way outside where I thought he was. Walking around, looking for him they confused me for one of the upgrades and the steward directed me to the VIP section. Picture lazy boy seats with a built in TV, free drinks and snacks in a comfortably heated cabin. There I stood, clothes dripping water on the lush carpets, hair wet and flat against my head, make-up streaks running down my face creating the perfect picture of a pauper looking through the window to those better off. The inner struggle at the time was real my friends… 

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The weather did not look better on the mainland

Do I make myself comfortable on a lazy boy or do I go look for Clayton and go back to our economy seats? After a brief moment of inner struggle on a level I’ve never experienced before I turned my back on comfort, glimpsing back only once (or twice) in self doubt to see what I’m giving up, and continued my search for my dearest husband. After several minutes, doubting whether I even still had 2 economy seats to return back to, I found him only to be told that no, he is actually quite comfortable and warm where he was.

I think it was the look in my eye that made him realize that this was not a polite request but a demand and he followed me back without a further word to our seats. Just as we were settling in, slightly traumatised by the most violent and horrific movie (without sound), the sound of projectile vomiting filled our ears – compliments of the rough ocean that caused the boat to rise what felt like 20m before crashing back down only to rise with the next big wave.

That we did not join the cacophony (cause by several other people joining the poor man in the front that kept vomiting for the remainder of the 2 hour trip to Dar Es Salaam) is mostly due to the sweeties they sold – a trick we learnt on the Lumani in Malawi.

As we disembarked the ferry we hoped that our ordeal would be over but it was not meant to be. Our taxi ride back to Safari Lodge (22km) took us another 2 hours. 2 painfully long hours only made bearable by Lesley’s car games and the eventual sight of Bertus, parked exactly where we left him. Exhausted, with still slightly damp clothes we got into our bed – ready to pick up our road trip with Bertus the next day.

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