This post is the forth in a set of publications which will describe the last trip I did in East Africa, back in August, leading me to Zanzibar and back again.
Zanzibar, despite being part of the United Republic of Tanzania, is really different from any other place I have visited in East Africa. It has a mix of cultures which at times makes you wonder whether you are in Africa, the Middle East or India. Different religions are professed here and their influences can be seen in the architecture, the clothing and the food.
In my opinion, the true beauty of Zanzibar lies in its streets, its markets and the people. Even after getting used to East African markets, Zanzibar managed to surprise me: the variety of spices, aromas, vegetables, fruits, objects and pieces of art was astonishing. Before heading back home, I had stockpiled a quite remarkable array of spices and massage oils, including 2 coconuts (yeah, I am crazy).
In Zanzibar, as in the rest of East Africa, you get to meet a lot of people. It’s very easy, especially if you don’t mind talking to strangers.
In fact, being a white (a mzungu, as they say) gives you a lot of chances to talk to people; of course, many might see it as an economical opportunity but, given a bit of effort, it often turns into a quite interesting conversation. By showing to people that you actually want to get to know them and learn about their culture makes a huge difference from being the common exploitable tourist.
As a suggestion, if you find yourself in East Africa (I can’t really say for the other parts but I’d assume it to be somewhat similar) and want to talk to the people, just start saying hello when walking down the street and you’ll notice how friendly they can be (once you get into this mindset of greeting everyone, it will feel weird not doing it back in your home country).
The fruit market was what I enjoyed the most. In Uganda there is not such a huge variety of fruits as there is in Zanzibar; so, seeing and eating lychees, mangosteen, fresh coconuts and other types of tropical fruits was great, especially since they were so cheap!
After just few days, Zanzibar already had a hold of my heart. And I hadn’t even seen the nature, yet…