One thing I learned in a lifetime of making friends from all over the world, is that it doesn't really matter where you are from or where you live. As long as the vibes are good, friendships can endure distance, culture, language and time. Maybe one of the most special friendships I have is with two girls named Loreto and Vanessa. I figured our friend group name might be 'Holy Trinity' because that is what we are called on Whatsapp, haha. I guess the three of us has always been a divine combination.
S T O R Y T I M E
I'm gonna give a quick history for those who don't know (just skip the whole blue part if you just wanna read about Zanzibar):
I met Loreto & Vanessa in May 2015 all as bad-ass solo traveling girls in a hostel in Arusha. For me it was the first time traveling on my own, and coming to Tanzania was pretty random: I got an e-mail offer in my inbox the winter before with cheap tickets (350 euro two-way!) and on the spot decided to book it, cause Tanzania looked like everything I needed instead of cold Dutch winter weather at that moment. Yep, that was basically my main reason haha.
A few months later, I arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport and get to the hostel I found good recommendations about online: Ujamaa Hostel. I have a bed in the dorm and when I enter, its basically a bunch of girls sitting on the bunk beds discussing where in the world the most beautiful men are from (apparently its Argentina). I immediately got a warm welcome by the girls and they invited me to join them on a safari that weekend. And I was afraid traveling alone would be lonely, well the weeks that followed I was everything but lonely. Probably made more friends then ever in such a short time!
The safari turned out an extremely bonding experience. Singing Lion King in the car, going through countless flat tires, waiting on top of the car with Konyagi for spare tires to be brought, setting up our tent in the pitch dark surrounded by buffaloes, almost having a leopard jump in our car(!), going to the bathroom together at night trying to talk about everything but the lions we heard outside the camp earlier, but most of all: enjoying the beauty of Serengeti and Ngorongoro with such an amazing group of people. I'm about to get all nostalgic here... Anyway, back to the story: with Loreto & Vanessa I had a special bond that did not fade away after we all went our separate ways again. We kept in touch almost every single day through Whatsapp and shared everything that happened to us. From our lives back home in Chile and the Netherlands, and Vanessa's adventures on her world trip.
In February 2016, we somehow made it work to all come from 3 different continents back to Tanzania to meet up again. We had two weeks of crazy adventures in Arusha and Zanzibar and many many funny, weird, loving but even sad moments.
It would have been SO amazing if we could have made it work in 2017 again, but life took us to different paths. Vanessa by now lived in Zanzibar (!) and I in Kenya, so I went to visit her in May. However, Loreto was still busy working in Chile and she could only enjoy the new stories by our voice notes.
But... in September 2017, Loreto could make it to Tanzania! Only, Vanessa had already moved to the other side of the world... (if you think I travel a lot, you really haven't her yet). But anyway, I had to find a weekend to still meet my favorite Chilean in Zanzibar and so it happened that I traveled to beautiful Zanzibar on October 19th.
T H E A C T U A L B L O G P A R T
So, now back to the original topic: I arrived at the airport really late, but thankfully my favorite Zanzibari taxi driver was there to pick me up: Hamadi! Hamadi dropped me at my guesthouse for tonight in town that I had found through AirBnb: Kiponda.
KIPONDA CULTURAL APPARTMENT - AIRBNB
Kiponda Appartment is a basic hostel in the middle of the old centre of Stone Town. It turned out to be perfect for my one night stay, since Nasir the host was a very relaxed guy that didn't mind having me arrive in the middle of the night and was helpful to explain me to get around (and pick me when I couldn't find back the place again haha). The hostel is upstairs in one of the narrow streets and its on a shared compound. There is a cultural centre/music studio and it gives a nice homely feeling with the plants, laundry and art on the walls. I also found that there is always people around the compound, and they are always friendly. The room itself was basic, a bed, a ventilator, wifi and a shared bathroom but it was clean, there were good locks and in the common area there is a hammock, table and some books, so also nice to hang around.
A DAY IN STONETOWN
ANTIQUE SHOPPING @ MAHO's SHOP, HURUMZI STREET
Even though I had been to Zanzibar a couple of times before, my time in Stone Town was always pretty short since I normally head to the beach as soon as possible. I did the 'standard' touristic things, but now I had a full day before my Chilean friends would arrive on the airport, and I was actually pretty excited to see more of the old town. I love Swahili culture and it doesn't get more Swahili then the old town. Narrow streets, the different Middle Eastern and Asian influences in the architecture and especially: all the little shops with the most amazing stuff for sale. One of the shops I loved was Maho's shop on Hurumzi Street. Its a small shop and it has mostly antiques. Maho told me a lot of Zanzibari people are also getting more into 'modern' furniture and they put all the old antique stuff in boxes under the bed. He tries and finds these boxes and with that fills up his store with the most random items. Clocks, Omani wood carving, Indian tin boxes, jewelry and a lot more. I somehow ended up going home with an authentic Zanzibari license plate, which he told me was very old and I don't know how old that means but it looks nice on my shelf.
ZANZIBAR COFFEE HOUSE
Shopping, especially when the heat starts kicking in can be exhausting so I decided to grab some brunch and ran into the Zanzibar Coffee House on Tharia Street. This place is pretty amazing, as almost every building in Stone Town it has that old school Swahili vibe. And the food is pretty amazing too! You can sit downstairs which is like a little cafe, but absolutely don't forget to go all the way up to the rooftop as well. It has a little breeze and gives you a beautiful view over the colorful roofs of the town. The interior is also nice, its not overdone, gives a very relaxed vibe and not to forget I had an amazing fresh passion juice + a Nutella pancake! Appearantly it is also a hotel, and even though I have not seen the rooms I imagine that they will also be very nice like the rest of the place.
After breakfast I met up with Aida, which I met through... surprise... Instagram! I know a lot of people think its weird or crazy, and yes there are definitely creeps out there on the internet, but during my time in East-Africa I have met a lot of amazing, cool, creative, helpful people through Instagram. I always quote how I even ended up in Kenya at first through an internship I got through someone on the gram.
Anyway, Aida is one of those cool peeps I met on Instagram. She grew up in different countries in East-Africa and now lives in Zanzibar, and she was the perfect new friend to spend my day in Stone Town with since she also LOVES all the cute little shops. But before I get to that, first we went for lunch at Zafarani Restaurant. It was recently opened and I had already seen some pics of it, and it looked really nice. But in real life it might be even better!
Zafarani is located at House 567 Shangani, and you will immediately recognize the white building with the Zanzibar ocean turquoise doors. There is free wi-fi and the interior is super pretty. The food was also amazing, and the portion I had was huge (I had a pesto pasta with shrimps), especially since we got a free soup as a started and had an amazing hibiscus iced tea too. The other dishes on the menu were a mix of Swahili food and uses a lot of the freshest ingredients off the island such as seafood, mango and avocado. Absolutely a nice place for lunch, but I can also imagine it as a good spot to catch up on some work for the less fortunate ones that need to do so.
COMMUNITY CRAFTS SHOP
Located on Hurumzi Str. 416 (I hope its correct, but check the photo with the Dada/Moto sign to find the exact place), there is this Community Crafts Shop which I immediately fell in love with. The shop promotes community based crafts production from Zanzibar, and they are not the lame 'Hakuna Matata' fridge magnets, but beautiful products made from local ingredients and material. They have woven hats and bags and a big assortment of soaps, oils, but also baobab mustard and tamarind chutney which are all produced as eco friendly as possible. This was my absolute favorite shop where I got some really nice presents for my friends and also myself. I actually bought the Babu Zanzibar Sea-Sand Cinnamon Cocoa Butter natural scrub soap (sea picture) and I swear my skin has been soooo glowing and smooth ever since I started using it, I actually wish I had bought more!
FORODHANI GARDENS / EVENING FOOD MARKET
I have written about this place before (read it here), so I won't go into detail again but if you are in Zanzibar. Make sure you go to Fordhani Gardens, catch the local boys diving and doing saltos into the ocean with a beautiful sunset in the background and grab some good food and sugar cane juice at the food market.
LUKMAAN - FINALLY!
When looking for the best restaurant in Zanzibar, there was one name that kept popping up: Lukmaan. But as mentioned before, I never really spend that much time in Stone Town so it was only this trip I managed to get to Lukmaan for the first time. I now know, if I would ever live closeby this place, I would never cook again because YUMMMM. The decor and dishes are simple, but good. There is a nice terrace upstairs where you can enjoy different sea food curries, Swahili snacks, naan bread, biryani rice and more accompanied by fresh fruit salad or juice from the little parlor in the front of the restaurant. The fact that even the locals are crazy about it, and it is really affordable make it a must-go when in Zanzibar for everyone.
A d v e n t u r e s o f
a D u t c h g i r l
i n E a s t - A f r i c a.