Day 311 (11th July) – Stone Town, Zanzibar

16 07 2011

Stone Town is the one of the oldest of Africa’s cities, dating back to the 12th century, and was a base for some of the great 19th century explorers such as David Livingstone and John Speke. As we came into port on the catamaran Stone Town resembled Venice, not that I’ve been to Venice, just what it looks like on the telly. The heavily Arabic influenced and less so Indian influenced architecture makes for a very beautiful city. With its narrow cobbled streets and alleyways, squares and courtyards the old town is a real maze of rabbit warrens that are begging to be explored and get lost amongst.

The cornerstone the city was built on was a heavy trade in slaves and spices – fortunately it is only the spice trade that exists today along with lots of tourism. We went on a great spice tour which saw us visiting a small spice farm and guessing what spices we were looking at, smelling and then tasting. Very very interesting and great to see all those spices you have in the cupboard growing on a tree, bush or vine. We learnt that ‘all spice’ is a type of spice from a tree and not a combination of spices.

Obviously all the food is heavily spiced and really good – spiced rice and potatoes, masala, grilled meats and an abundance of sea food. Africa has shown itself to be visually breathtaking, culturally intriguing and a culinary delight.

 

 

Where most black Africans present themselves as clean shaven it’s hard not to notice that many black Muslim Africans sport some form of facial hair – whether it is a goatie, beard or horrible pencil moustache. As Zanzibar has a 95% Muslim population you see a lot of these bad tashes.

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