Tuesday, 16 April 2013

{Eat, Drink, Do, Zanzibar}

Eat: Forodhani Night Market, Stone Town




As the sun went down on a day of sightseeing & exploring little side streets in Stone Town, and we enjoyed a sundowner from the balcony of  The Africa House Hotel, we noticed a buzz emanating from the waterfront Forodhani gardens. Stall after stall filled with skewers of the day's catch, and other tasty items, were being set up by chefs in white uniforms & hats. We knew we had to check it out & headed down.

The stalls are dimly lit by lanterns, giving the whole market a mysterious, romantic feel. Also, you can never be quite sure what you are eating! We threw caution to the wind, and grabbed a few skewers of delicious meat & fish, rounding them off nicely with a Zanzibar pizza: rolled crepes filled with Nutella & bananas. The market is refreshingly cheap and not too touristy (there aren't so many tourists on Zanzibar).



We sat on the grass in the middle of shouting chefs pitching their delicacies to the locals who frequent the market every evening. It was a great start to a memorable night - afterwards we visited Freddie Mercury's bar where we danced to the beat of the drums & a cockroach crawled onto me while I blissfully sipped on my cocktail!

Drink: Coral Rock, Jambiani

In 2009, I was a volunteer in the village of Jambiani for five perfect weeks. The village is a 3-mile stretch of houses, schools & other little buildings, with a dirt track on one side & a beautiful white beach on the other. We lived somewhere in the middle, & every morning we would hop on our bikes and trek down to the schools at the furthest end of the village. After a long, sweaty day of teaching kids & painting the schools, we were always ready for a swim & a beer to cool off.



  This was our back garden, and we would run straight from our huts into the crystal clear sea; the absolute best way to cool off. We'd swim out to the dhows (wooden sailing boats) anchored near the shore and hang off them, chatting and just unwinding. After cold (no hot water here!) showers and delicious, simple suppers prepared by a local chef, a short walk down the beach was all that lay between us and ice-cold beer. When I first arrived on the island we lived closer to the school but further from this hotel/bar, fortunately we made a crucial move down the beach - minimising accidents on the midnight stumbles back to our house.


This is Coral Rock; our little sanctuary during the tropical evenings. Technically a hotel, the owners were friendly to us since we were volunteers, and we were always allowed in for a dip in the infinity pool or a plate of their delicious masala chips. The rasta barmen became our friends over the weeks that we were there, and I swear no London barman could recreate the passionfruit & pineapple cocktails they rustled up for us at Coral Rock - they possess a special Zanzibari magic. Fresh fruit & the perfect blend of vodka, these were one of the things I missed the most upon my return to rainy England.




Do: Swim with Dolphins, Kizimkazi 

On my last weekend in Zanzibar, overcome with a sense of premature nostalgia, I decided to have one last memorable experience. Myself & a fellow volunteer woke at a nonsensical hour in the morning, and drove to Kizimkazi beach - a postcard paradise. A couple guides took us out on the red boat above, allowing us a specatular view of the island as it got smaller and smaller. Once out on the cystral clear blue sea (not an exaggeration), we had a mission: dolphin spotting. There was silence as the guides expertly scanned the horizon, while we sat and listened to the waves gently lap at our dhow. Suddenly, they spied one! Or a whole pod of dolphins, to be specific.

 We moved towards the creatures as silently as possible, threw on our masks & snorkels and slipped into the chilled water. It certainly blew off the cobwebs from our night at Coral Rock! Before I had time to gasp from the cold, I glanced down - only to see the wild dolphins moving underneath me, so close I could almost touch them.

It was my first encounter with dolphins out in the wild, and I'd say it beats an (albeit fun) day at Seaworld by a mile. I was able to see the graceful creatures in their element, and felt humbled by such a display of beauty. To this day they are my favourite animal. The same probably can't be said for my Danish boatmate, who decided she was actually scared of water & sat the rest of the experience out. Each to their own!
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