Thursday, September 14, 2017

Zanzibar, day 4: Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Another lazy Stone Town morning, with breakfast on the terrace. I could get used to this sort of life!

(I confess to being fascinated by that blue tower visible behind Wil -- the top floor is just one room, it seems, with a balcony all the way around. We never saw anyone in it. But it looks like a very cool space!)

Eventually we went out for a walk to see the market. We made the same slightly wrong turn and found ourselves, again, by the dala dala terminal. But we just walked around the big metal hoardings and walked through the produce market. Even there it was meaty meaty meaty, so we had to veer farther away.

Then we went to visit the site of the former slave market and the Anglican cathedral. We paid $5 each to enter, and successfully fended off a would-be tour guide at the entrance ... a move we felt good about when we saw him with some other tourists and he rushed them through the museum.

The museum was really well curated -- almost too much information, but it had excellent displays featuring thoughtful writing and lots of historical photographs. The tying together of the slave and the ivory trade was interesting to me -- that and learning that the US imported 75% of the ivory that passed through Zanzibar. I did a search on "Connecticut Ivory" and learned that there was a factory town called Ivoryton that made pianos, billiard balls, combs, and more. has an interesting article about Ivoryton and other manufacturing hubs, as does the New York Times, which noted:

One of the early enigmas of the connection between Connecticut and Africa was that some of the businessmen involved here were ardent abolitionists who either did not know of the horrors of getting the ivory there -- or chose to ignore it.

I was thrilled to see this photo of Chuma and Susi, two of David Livingstone's loyal attendants, who carried the explorer's body back to Bagamoyo on the coast after his death.

Then we went down into the former slave quarters proper -- a pair of holding cells with slits for windows and low ceilings. A terrible, terrible space. Not to get all woo-woo, but the dimly lit, silent spaces were really affecting.

As someone who is really interested in the physical, manmade historical artifacts, seeing these chains brought tears to my eyes. Typing this, weeks later, does too. 

Then to the slave memorial, a sculpture of 5 slaves in a pit, chained together with what is purported to be a real slave chain. 

Then it was time to visit the Anglican cathedral, aka Christ Church, Zanzibar.

I had a couple of history-nerdy reasons for wanting to visit. One is the concrete barrel-roofed nave, the first such construction in Zanzibar, and one so striking that people gathered to watch them take down the scaffolding, so sure were most people that the roof would collapse.

A second is that there's a stained-glass window dedicated to the memory of British sailors who died on anti-slavery patrols. A third is that there's a memorial stone to Bishop Steere, builder of the cathedral, behind the altar.

And then there are these gorgeous copper bas reliefs behind the altar, gleaming in the dim light:

But for me the real highlight was this small crucifix to the left of the altar, made from the wood of the tree under which David Livingstone's heart was buried. 

We headed back into the old town, and decided to get a drink at Emerson on Harumzi -- our hotel's sister property -- which turned into lunch in the rooftop restaurant. 

I loved sitting on  the low cushions -- and those gorgeous appliqu├ęd cushions! It was lovely and peaceful sipping cocktails while a brief squall of rain hammered on the nearby roofs. Well, at least until a tour group of Germans arrived. Still, watching their anxiety and nervousness and discomfort as they adjusted to the scene was pretty amusing. It was like having our own floor show.

I had a "Pimms Sultan" (Stoney Tangawizi, Pimms, passionfruit) and Wil a cucumber martini. And since the drink turned into lunch, we had the veggie burger -- a patty nicely spiced with turmeric and a salad; and a delicious fish kofta, made of kingfish. Perfect for sharing!

The views from the roof were fantastic, as well -- that's the tower of a Hindu temple in the center of the frame.

Wil was enamored of this funny little statue in the hotel, which seemed oddly out of place and unlike most other art we saw in Africa.

Then back to the hotel, where we spoke to Russell and arranged for a ride to Bwejuu with a stop for a spice tour en route. And then we went up to the room and found they had made the bed like this.

Which meant, of course, that we needed a nap. Naps are CRUCIAL.

Later in the afternoon we went out to run a few errands; attempting to buy some of the locally woven hammam towels like the ones we had been admiring in our rooms, getting cash from the ATM, getting a bite to eat at a small restaurant that was SO CHEAP it made the vendors on the night market look like price gougers.

We ended up at Mercury's on the beach by the ferry terminal. We settled in w two "local gin" and tonics, plus a pizza. While the sun set, we watched young men exercising on the beach, a ferry arrival, and lots of boats sailed in and out.

Eventually the men gathered enough bodies for a soccer match, but with super narrow goalposts -- fun to watch.

We walked back through town, accidentally passing the samosa shop AGAIN, and eventually finding our way back to Emerson Spice.

We went immediately to the Secret Garden for a nightcap; Wil having a gin & tonic, me just a Stoney Tangawizi.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Stone Town and head for the coast -- I hope we like it there, too!

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