~~Portland Cross-Pollination Project!~~

..................................Check it out!!..................................

May 10, 2007


Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania, is one of those very special places in the world -- it still has unique culture, un-Americanized!!! Swahili culture extends along the coast of East Africa, but much of its origin is Zanzibar. Zbar is also where the most pure form of Kiswahili language is spoken, and I had a really great time learning it! In fact, I spoke Kiswahili 90% of the time I was there!! So much fun, and such a good way to get past the normal tourist-local relationships that tend to happen.

Zanzibar is special in so many ways… with its laid back island pace, dhows (wooden boats with one sail, used for centuries), abundance of ocean-related food, fresh spices of all kinds, and Swahili Muslim/African culture. It’s just a special place. Stonetown, the main town, is a labyrinth of skinny little streets and courtyards, where you can explore for hours, finding hidden spots for spiced tea/coffee, bakeries, little stores, and lots of people sitting on ledges chatting the day away. Old men ride bicycles trough the windy streets, women with colorful head covers exchange gossip, children bounce balls off the old stone walls of buildings… it just feels nice. And once in awhile the loud speakers of the closest mosque ring out its prayers.

Of course, I tried hard to block out the tourist trap aspects that certainly dominated many parts of town (speaking Swahili helped) and I avoided the “friendly” approaches of the infamous “beach boys.” And there are certainly other, more hidden, aspects and issues of Zanzibar (like the international drug trafficking), but I needed a break from the issues of the world…. so with this report I will just share pretty pictures.

This was my first few hours on the island… sunset in Stonetown… the beach filled with boys playing soccer, people doing acrobatics, kids swimming, women strolling, fishing dhows returning home with dinner’s catch… it just felt so peaceful and mellow.

Zanzibar pizza: fried dough with veggies and egg inside. Yum. Everything in Zanzibar seems to be fried. Goes well with spices and tea!

This photo is of an almost full moon over the beautiful architecture of Stonetown.

No comments: