Day 2 of my Zanzibar experience started at 6:30AM. I was to wake up earlier than that in order to take shots of the sunrise but clearly that was futile. I opted to take a morning stroll on the beach near the hotel where everyone greeted me with lovely smiles and jovial ‘goodmornings’. At that moment I wanted to carry them home. Nairobi needs more morning people like them. The stroll on the beach was calming. The sound of the waves crashing on coral rocks is a sound everyone should savor if you live near the beach. At the shore, there were many fishermen readying their boats for their morning catch. There were also offering trips to passer-by tourists to Prison Island. Every 10 minutes I would here someone shout, “Rasta! Cheap ride to Prison Island?”
I went back to the room, took a shower and went with my sister to the dining area for breakfast. There is nothing better than a breakfast buffet in a hotel. It is what i imagine heaven looks like. There was an array of foods set out on platters for guests. I took every unfamiliar food on the menu, because life is too short to eat things you have already tasted. The breakfast was beautiful and left us satisfyingly full.
We had planned to see if we could talk to someone to go swim with dolphins. So we went to talk to our airport driver Ali, who informed us that it was too late for dolphins and they can only be seen in the morning. Our second option was taking a complimentary ride to Mangapwani Beach where Serena has a private beach for the guests. At 10 AM we met with our second driver, The Second Ali, who was to drive us to the beach. We first stopped at a Forex Bureau to change our Kenyan currency to Tanzanian Shillings. The currency was quite confusing for me due to the fact that 1$ is 2000Tsh. The calculations hardly made any sense in my head and it was Njeri’s work to deal with anything to do with money.
The drive to Mangapwani beach took 30minutes where The Second Ali, pointed out famous buildings, Bububu Town and told us more about the politics in Zanzibar. We arrived, wore our costumes and relaxed by the beach. We were offered protective shoes due to the fact that the beach itself was quite rocky. We walked towards a small coral island on the beach and no sooner had we arrived there than my sister was stung by a sea urchin. Damn these sea urchins! (If you read the Diani post you may now why we do not like them) A friendly fisherman noted the incident and offered to help my sister. He got maji ya papaya to help remove the sting. He told us that nowadays, so many people are stung there and papayas are hard to come by.
MANGAPWANI SLAVE CAVES
After the incident, we simply lazed by the beach taking in the vastness of the ocean and doing some light reading. It was serene. At 2pm we were ready to leave and head to Mangapwani Slave Caves. Arriving at the site, you would not know that there were natural forming caves there. Our guide took us below ground through a large gaping hole that had stairs. The cave was huge. He proceeded to give us a little history of the place informing us that it was a hideaway for slaves in the 1600s. Merchants would hide their slaves at night and stack them on top of each other; men, women and children. Finally, during the day, they would come out and force them to work. Nowadays the caves are used for voodoo. Yes voodoo. Witchcraft. You could even see egg shells in the cave that were used for sacrifices a few days before.
We were given flashlights and began our 100 metre trot through the dark, pitch black, slippery caves! It was full of climbing rocks and strategically placing your feet in niches in order to not topple over. There are tiny ponds in the caves with crystal clear water. It is amazing to think that this place was once entirely immersed in water. At the end of the cave, one had to climb out of the cave through a narrow opening. I was terrified and did not think that i would make it. My sister was not encouraging me either saying that if I did it, then any yuppie can. To my amazement, i made it! It was hard work and I almost died but nevertheless, I did it! Mount Kenya here I come!
The experience was quite something and I recommend it for anyone in Mangapwani area.
By 4 pm we were back at the hotel to quickly charge my camera, shower after the tedious climb and get to the boat and head to Prison Island. It was a 30 minute ride. My sister was terrified of the boat ride and the unforgiving waves did not make it any better. The water was a deep navy blue and beautifully reflected the afternoon sun. It looked like an unending blue sheet.
It is called Prison Island due to the fact that the British Prime Minister of Zanzibar,Lloyd Matthews, purchased the island in 1893 and constructed a prison complex there. No prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases.The entrance fee is $4.
We docked at Prison Island and the first thing you notice is the deck. We first went to see the tortoises. They have 150 tortoises in Prison Island. What! With the oldest being 120 years old. It was quite a sight.
At 5 pm we headed back to the hotel. I then went for a sunset swim where it finally dawned on me that I was in Zanzibar. Watching the sunset in that hotel pool ended up being the most surreal moment I have had in a while where I shut off all the noise and was simply in the moment. Zanzibar does that to you. It reminds you to be in the moment.The present. That nothing past or future matters than where you are right then. (I had a mini Eat Pray Love moment)
We had our final Zanzibari dinner and were quite sad that it was coming to an end. The food was delicious as always and we spent the rest of the night chatting and slept by 11pm.
We were up by 6am, showered, packed and were set to go back to Nairobi. After our final hotel breakfast (I miss it more than anything), saying our final goodbyes to the staff, we were driven by Ali back to the airport. The airport at Zanzibar is too relaxed! Haha, when I passed through the metal detector and it rang, I was sure I would be tackled by the S.W.A.T team there and then. But the guy looked at me and asked another lady to search me. The lady glanced at me and continued doing what she was doing. Ha! I could have had weapons of mass destruction but ‘meh’.
My enthusiastic sister went to buy souvenirs for our parents and friends as I was seated at the airport people watching. Seeing internationals in the airport with heavy backpacks and adventure in their eyes made me think of how Zanzibar was simply the beginning of my travel adventures, but that is a post for the final installment of Experiencing Zanzibar. We finally boarded the plane and headed back home. Zanzibar was a stunning experience!
Have a lovely week.