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Zanzibar-First Impressions

Zanzibar-First Impressions

One suitcase with food and another with clothes, sarongs and sandals. Passports in hand and dollars in our pocket we are set to go on our adventure, my first island holiday. Checking in at the airport was quite stressful, luggage had to be reshuffled as already overweight, plus sealed jar of unopened peanut butter was confiscated from hand baggage. They are strict and it’s quite nerve racking going into a Muslim country.

Snacks on the plane are expensive – 3 samosas* for R60, and they don’t take coins. You could pay in Rands, Dollars or their local currency, Tanzanian Shilling. We ate nothing, but got a coffee instead. I was going to need Caffeine to get me through this adventure. Brave on the outside but scared on the inside.

Before even landing in Dar we met Gillian who lives in Jambiani, the same town that we were travelling to. I never speak to other passengers while travelling but somehow her son, sitting in front got our attention – Kingston. We accepted her kind offer of taking us to our accommodation, saving us 40 USD. This was the moment I knew this was going to be a blessed holiday trip. This was meant to be.

Arriving at the airport is an experience on its own, there is no baggage carousel. You go and get your bags between all the other passenger bags that were dropped off in one corner. Taxis are waiting outside the building to get new business. It can be quite intimidating, but we felt so safe with Gillian and so grateful to have met her. Thank you Jesus.

The roads are not the same standard as we have in South Africa, potholes everywhere, there are no lanes and hooters made up the sounds of the night. Motorbikes, cars, bicycles all fighting to get ahead and each are driving with fierce determination to get to their destination. Our side mirror was knocked by another taxi as we sat in the back, not looking outside to the chaos and knowing Gillian was calm, made me calm.


After leaving the city centre we head out to the South East Coast where Jambiani is. There is only one road that leads there. The one side of the island is the warm Indian Ocean and the other side is forests, a narrow strip of 33kms separates the east and west coast. Arriving in Jambiani there are no tarred roads, no street names and no house numbers. Pitch dark and trying to find the house we are going to be staying in, is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finally after many phone calls we are met by Helen. We say goodbye to Gillian and Kingston and bravely enter our new home for the trip. The humid heat is overwhelming even at night and my body is wet from perspiration. Carrying our bags through the rocky garden, and when I say rocky I mean rocky, no pathway, no smooth flat surface and no lights to guide you. This feels like survivor in the jungle. Will I outlast and survive this trip.


Geckos wait to greet me on all the walls, I don’t like geckos. I know lots of people do, but I am not one of those. We meet Helen’s boyfriend who doesn’t say more than hello to us. There is no welcome drink or refreshments on offer. We can not use the shower tonight we are told. We realize we are here for a job to house sit and look after their 2 dogs and hospitality, is not her strong point. Helen explains our chores and shows us what we need to know. Tired, hot, sweaty and hungry we go to bed and try and sleep. We sleeping upstairs tonight and tomorrow we move down into the house for the rest of the trip. We are thankful to have received a bottle of water for the night.

*Samosa – A samosa is a common snack. It generally consists of a fried triangular pastry shell with a savory vegetarian filling made with potato, onion, coriander and green peas or minced beef slightly curried. It really is good.