Road to Zanzibar – Part 1

 

Victor Schertzinger’s Road to Zanzibar (1941) is a 90-minute spoof in a “jungle and safari” genre, completely unpolitically correct. Of course, it conveys a really weird and inaccurate idea of Zanzibar, which is not at all like what you see in the film.

Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania, albeit semi autonomous. It is in the Indian Ocean, and is made up of several islands that form an archipelago that has a notable Arab and Persian influence. In the middle ages, it was a crossroads for merchants, Zanzibar hosted people from the Arab world, Portugal, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. In 1698, the island became part of Oman and in the XIX century, the empire of Oman’s capital was transferred to Zanzibar where the Sultan made his home. Late in the XIX century, Zanzibar became a British protectorate.  As a consequence of this strange and unusual history, Zanzibar is a melting pot of civilizations and has much more to offer than you would think from the cursory or humorous point of view of the film I mentioned above.

Enough history… on to the holiday.

In order to get to Zanzibar, you can fly directly into the island or, as we did, take the boat from Dar Es Salaam on the East coast of Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam is a bustling and exciting city, but is somewhat unsafe for the unprepared tourist – it’s worth being careful.  I personally felt safer in Abidjan, which is not much of a compliment.

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Road to Zanzibar – Dar Es Salaam – Fondamentally 君悦

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Road to Zanzibar – Dar Es Salaam – Fondamentally 君悦

Once on the boat, there were fewer people and – interestingly enough – lots of Asian tourists from Japan and China. Once on the island, we boarded a taxi and crossed over to the East shore.  The eastern shore of the island is a long beach called Paje, and as we made our way over, we saw fewer and fewer tourists. The only other tourists we met were a pair of South Africans, father and son, both very happy to be in Paje as well. It is rumored that the northern part of the island is filled with festive Italian beach goers but we did not meet any further south where we were.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

I don’t know what your vision of paradise is, but after my experience of Zanzibar, I think it must be somewhat similar. Zanzibar is not only gorgeous, there was a sense that we were truly disconnected from our worldly concerns and that made it much easier to appreciate the present moment.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

I’d like to tell you what the early morning is like in Paris, but I never get up early enough to find out.  In Zanzibar, however, the orange and pink glow visible through the cracks in the curtains was enough to get me out of bed so that I could see the sun rising over the Indian Ocean as the local fishermen waded out for their morning’s work.

The colors don’t come across very well in the photographs – it’s difficult to describe just how wonderful the feeling of the sun on your skin, the sand between your toes, the warm sea breeze and the sound of the waves gently rolling up the beach was every morning of my time there.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

…  The fishermen go out in the early morning and again during the day depending on the tide, and since there are shallows for a really long way from the beach to a reef further out to sea, you can see them all standing in the water over a huge area, spreading their nets, baiting hooks and sailing small dhows to pick up crab pots and to get to and from the reef.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

We saw them every day when we would go out for a morning walk or for an excursion – we saw many of them when we went swimming with dolphins (the subject of next week’s post).

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

We went fishing and this was the miraculous catch of the day. I’m neither experienced nor knowledgeable when it comes to fishing, although I have have fished once in the Pacific,  but this was ridiculously easy. The fishermen would bait the line with a tiny worm, I’d throw it in the water, and mere moments later I could pull it out again with a fish dangling on the end of it.  The fishermen were kind enough to gut and prepare the larger fish and then give them to our hotel where the kitchen fried them up for supper.

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Road to Zanzibar – Zanzibar food – Fondamentally 君悦

The plate in the far left with the fish is the product of one hour of fishing, and we returnedall the fish we did not intend to eat to the ocean.  Given their very small size, they would not have been edible other than in a stew anyway. The very large fish surrounded by flowers was fished by the South African father-and-son who went deep sea fishing for the entire day.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

We were extremely fortunate and had miles and miles of empty beaches all to ourselves.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

We hardly saw another soul, other than the locals who work the restaurants and bars, and occasionally, a group walking by the beach in the scorching heat.

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Road to Zanzibar – Paje beach – Fondamentally 君悦

There were very beautiful and luxurious tourist facilities, but no tourists to be seen. Luckily for me! Also, it is easy to make friends :  the children living in Zanzibar are very welcoming and cheerful. With the exception of the photo below, I don’t feel it’s right to publish any of the pictures I took of them, or of me with with, but you can believe me when I say that the kids there are very photogenic!

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Road to Zanzibar – Fondamentally 君悦

We were also very impressed with the boats; the dhows they are called. We love sailing so it was fun to see how such a light and primitive boat can in reality be graceful and efficient.

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Road to Zanzibar -Dhow boats – Fondamentally 君悦

One day, we took a day trip to visit an island off Paje. We boarded this comfortable Dhow and off we were to wonderful sandbanks.

Road to Zanzibar -Boarding a Dhow boat - Fondamentally 君悦

Road to Zanzibar – Boarding a Dhow – Fondamentally 君悦

This island we toured is a very touristic place : there were restaurants and shops set up along the beach and many different groups sailed there for the day. Everything tastes good in paradise.

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Road to Zanzibar -Zanzibar food – Fondamentally 君悦

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Road to Zanzibar -Zanzibar food – Fondamentally 君悦

Though the island felt a bit like a tourist trap, I would highly recommend going there because the nature is very different from the main island’s. Below are some pictures taken there. Next week, I’ll tell you about the day we went swimming with dolphins and the snorkeling, when we met Nemo’s family.

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Road to Zanzibar -Fondamentally 君悦

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Road to Zanzibar – Fondamentally 君悦

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Road to Zanzibar – – Fondamentally 君悦

2 Comments

  1. your vacation pictures are to die for!! so gorgeous!! the sunset photo is just stunning. and omgosh those lobsters!! drool looks so delicious!

    yes i’ve seen pictures of the moscow baccarat it is quite over the top.. the russians seem to have a niche on over the top.. which I must admit I absolutely LOVE lololol!! the food was just ok honestly but yes the decor at the paris one is quite romantic :)

  2. wahhh!! i just saw your post to my rebuttal on the foie gras. i can’t thank you ENOUGH for your post. i have to admit from blogging i’ve gotten LOTS of ppl writing all sorts of horrible things about me as a person.. ie. i’m stupid, ugly, fat, dumb.. the list goes on.. but to all of those things i IGNORE.. and keep moving because well those are their personal opinions. but i REALLY REALLY cannot stand it when ppl try to tell me how to live my life because everyone’s entitled to live it they way they chose just as long as they aren’t going out of their way to hurt others!!

    thank you so much for your post you really made my day!!!

    and thank you i will keep that in mind next time we visit paris again :)!

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