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African   Histories

The   African   Sickness

Zanzíbar. Pearl of Indian Ocean

The vision from the airplane of Zanzibar Town, the City of Stone, me has left fascinated. All histories and legend that I have read on Zanzíbar are short before the contemplation of this surrounded city of the beautiful Indian Ocean and in which it is impossible not to lose itself, still with a good map, in the rosary of side streets that cross it in all the senses. Livingstone, in his last newspaper wrote " Zanzíbar. 28 of January of 1866. I have arrived at the island on board of frigate Thulé the steam that offers the government from Bombay to sultán of Zanzíbar... the island is a formation of chorale with silícea stoneware conglomerates. The flora is generally African, but the plantations of handles and coconut palms before give to the scene the exuberante aspect of the islands of the Sea of the South ". years, in 1857, Burton and Speke had been able financing on the part of the Royal Geographical Society to discover the sources of the Nile starting off of the coasts of the East Indian instead of overcoming the Nile from the Mediterranean, in a trip of thousands of kilometers that had felt like irrealizable. For that reason they decided to follow the routes of the esclavistas that left from Zanzíbar for the West in search of ivory and slaves to feed the most important market on Eastern Africa; 2 years later returned to Zanzíbar faced and with opposite opinions on the location of the true sources; to its arrival to London, Speke was proclaimed discoverer of the sources of the Nile. Tanzania is the result of the confederation in 1964 between Tanganika, that it obtained his independence in 1961, and Zanzíbar, that obtained it in 1963, and became republic in 1964, after overthrowing to sultán. However, from the moment of your landing in Zanzíbar, they are in charge to leave very clear that it is a confederation of different countries, since although you fly from Tanzania as it was my case, you must pass the proceedings of customs, visa, declaration of goods, and show your record of vaccination as if you entered another country; the reality is that Zanzíbar is not looked in anything like the rest of the country, by itself has a special personality and characteristics that turn it into a unique and very interesting place in spite of their small size. Until year 90, Zanzíbar was reserved to the travellers who escaped of the comforts and in certain way he had taken the relief from Kathmandú as place of encounter for the hippies. That year, the Aga foundation Khan undertook an ambitious project of rehabilitation in the island, that 6 years later has given like result the one that 3 or 4 hotel complexes of luxury in Zanzíbar exist, of backs to the rest of the island that lives its own rate and welcomes with the opened arms in the travellers who look for something more than sun and paradisíacas beaches. After all the proceedings lame a taxi shared with 1 pair of Spaniards who go to one of those hotels of luxury, and I remain in the City of Stone, next to the sea, in the Karibu, welcome in swahili, a Guest House that by only 10 dollars offers an enormous room to me in the attic from where the Indian Ocean is contemplated, of a unique blue tonality. I leave to look for a travel agency, since they have commented to me which the options to leave the island very are limited, a flight every 2 days and ferry per week; as I have been having my ticket of train of Mombasa to Nairobi reserved for 2 weeks, I do not want to lose it; my visits to Air Zanzibar and Kenya Airways are unfruitful because the waiting list is very long; encounter a seat in Air Tanzania for the same day of the train, reason why I am glad much; I accidentally am with Ulf, one of the Swedish of the expedition of gorilas, that comments to me that the sobrename of Air Tanzania is " Air Maybe ", " Air Perhaps " in Spanish, and with a nervous laughter I say to him that there is 7 hours between the flight and the train and that of all ways is the only option that I have. Milton, in the lost paradise describes to Zanzíbar like " a secret, full redoubt of flowers and olorosas grass ". Of the newspaper of Stanley we extract the following description " Zanzíbar is the Bagdad, Istambul of Eastern Africa; it is the great market where it is accumulated ivory and the copal, the skins, the precious wood, and the black Earth beauties of the Moon to be sold in other points. In Zanzíbar pimienta is sold in addition, sésamo and oil of the Coco ". To this phrase to only we would today add the nail commerce him, of which Zanzíbar is the first producer of the world, and whose scent you embriaga from the same moment in which you land in the island, and that accompanied to you during all your stay. The encounter with Ulf has been a very pleasant surprise and we fixed an appointment for afternoon to Africa House, the most famous terrace of Zanzíbar where, besides to take a frozen beer, the sun putting can be contemplated from a privileged watchtower with the old island-prison to the bottom; I do not know as they would be the conditions of the prisoners in the island, but the simple fact to be surrounded by palms and power to smell the ocean would do the most relaxed sentence to them. Zanzíbar has happened through thousand ups and downs in its history; although small, it was the political center of which today it is Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, thanks to the commerce, as much human as of spices. In 1885 Germany Tanzania was annexed, causing the protest of sultán Bargash de Zanzibar, that was ally of the British; these did not look for an empire in Eastern Africa, reason why British prime minister declared that " if Berlin wants a colonial power, I only can say that haste occurs and that God helps him "; with these perspective, sultán had to negotiate the cession of its territories insulares, and to remain with the islands of Zanzíbar, Pemba, Mafia and Lamu; in 1888 a final distribution gave Tanzania to Germany, Kenya and Zanzíbar to the British, and Madagascar to the French. Wandering about by Zanzíbar note clearly that its population is in its Muslim majority, with the motley stores distributed by its serpenteantes streets, all of them directed by Muslims touched with its white gorritos; As usually he is habitual in Africa, the Islam has passed here through the sieve of the African tolerance and the indolencia, and the tourists can take a walk in " smaller cloth ", as they think that we go with ours shorts and t-shirts without sleeves, without problem no. The song of muecín at dawn even seems much more smooth, not to bother to the nonMuslim ones, that the one that we have heard in other parts of the world. Perhaps to all it the enormous mosaic of races helps that have left the centuries of commerce in this part of the world; Indians, targets, Aryans, bantús, indonesios, and other ethnic groups who we would not dare to classify, by the security to mistake to us. The gastronomy reflects the same mosaic perfectly, since they mix the India kitchen with the African, and the basic condimentos of any plate are curry and the Coco milk, that as much in meat as in fish, new flavors and sensations to the western visitor discover. Definitively I have fallen in love with Zanzíbar and its history; each new experience is added to the previous one for, with that same ecstasy that the enamored ones feel, to ignore the negative points, that exist, like the dirt and the state of imminent ruin of many buildings, and to sublimate the positives, that are many. In my route by the city I observe many wood doors of great size carefully worked by previous generations of craftsmen in whom the love to the work can be felt and, mainly, the lack quickly to finish it; unfortunately many of these doors very are deteriorated or have been taken of their places to somewhere adorn probably the entrance to some mansion of a millionaire of the world. A shutdown in the terrace of the Seaview me reconcilia with my loved Zanzíbar, since the ocean is being furrowed by dhow, or in swahili jahazi, those wood boats with its crossed Latin candles, that, unlike the modern and aerodynamic designs of sailboats, seem created to go slowest possible and not to force to their crew an excessive effort. When its length is quite great him can be incorporated a mizzen candle, also Latin, but foque or any other type of candle is totally unthinkable. Also the slow rate of the fishermen can be observed who throw their networks, tend on the cover, and after a prudencial time they gather them, normally full, since it is a generous sea. The time prisoner has itself, and until the sun it has been seeming that this hung in the same position for one hour. Engrossed in the vision of this navy, I do not hear a girl who requests to me in English my prism binocular; the surprise makes respond me to him in Spanish, and by its expression of the face, it seems to me that liked the answer, or at least the language; indeed, Solitude, therefore is called, she is Ecuadorian, and it has been 4 months crossing Africa, first by work, since she is bióloga and it has been in Uganda working in a reserve, and soon by pleasing, since also it is affected of " badly of Africa ", the same one that I notice. For 3 months it has not been speaking Spanish, and for that reason my answer pleased so much to him; we spoke of its experiences in Africa and their work in the reserves of Uganda and the Amazon, and I locate it to have supper with the Swedish. The electricity has gone away in the city nothing else to put the sun, that we have seen descend on the island-prison with a so red color that it seemed was going to set afire the glasses of the high palms that cover the island; it is the hour of the return of dhow, which they trim his silhouettes in the penumbra with the great fire ball becoming liquid in the horizon, and offer to the photographers a perfect frame for those photos of postcard or tourist pamphlet. It seems that they are customary to that the light goes away, because the restaurants and hotels have unique electricity-generating groups that they put the note of light in a city totally extinguished. We had supper, seems a premonition, in an Arab restaurant that are called " thousands and the one nights ", and in which we took fish and marisco to prices from laughter for our European pockets, that yes, the alcohol nor to prove it because the owner is Muslim. Although the restaurant is almost empty, the service is very slow, seems as if they did not want to accustom us to the rapidity, and soon we demand it; the night is closed with the visit to a Pub where we listened to music of Zanzibar, a mixture between African music, India, and who knows what other influences. Early in the morning I go to the Cinema Afrique, departure point of the Spice Tours or route of spices of Mitu, the most famous guide of the island, that takes more than to 30 years teaching to the visitors the wonders that Zanzíbar produces. The continuity is assured, because 2 of their children serve as conductors the group. All these years have not turned to him into the typical boring guide who loosen his retahíla of phrases; all the opposite, the passion with which he tells to the history of Zanzíbar and the pride us to maintain his independence Tanzania in front of, is real, and they say much to you of porqué of the magic of this island; it is of India race, and it speaks English a perfect one, we visited with him the ruins of the palace of sultán and next we are going away to enjoy the most interesting part tour, that is the visit to the plantations. One is thought that the plantations will be like in Spain, a zone for wheat, another one for tomatos, et cetera, however it is here that he is everything mixed, and not capriciously, because jengibre, the nail, the cardamom and sésamo are needed mutually, all it in the shade of the coconut palm, in which shamba is called. Also we marvelled ourselves at the tree at chicle, of the soap and other that produces seeds that to the contact with the water explode as if they were firecrackers. We see fragmentation hand grenades, you file, avocados, papaya, tapioca and other fruits never seen whose name in Spanish escapes to me. We observed up to 10 species different from bananas, and we are surprised of the agility of the children who climb in seconds until the top of a coconut palm of 9 meters, with the simple aid of its feet tied by a fabric tape. We proved the technique and our failure is total. After to have seen the immense possibilities that the nature offers, and to shame us by our little knowledge of the same one, the finishing touch puts a delicious food outdoors where they are amalgamated without mixing many of the scents and flavors that we have proven previously, vegetables to curry, fished in Coco milk, fresh fragmentation hand grenade, in one orgía of fragrances and tastes that embriagan to us; in this catatónico state we let ourselves decorate the arms by nonpermanent tattoos, of hena, a substance that is used as it tints, and that will hold 2/3 weeks. The brushes cross with great precision the skin, drawing geometric figures of a millenarian tradition and that all the women of Zanzíbar follow, painting hands, arms, feet and legs continuously. The return to Zanzíbar Town in the light trucks of Mitu is made specially it last by the continuous pockets, the heat and the digestion, that takes to us in a permanent sopor; a siesta of urgency in the Guest House puts to us in form for a new sun putting from Africa House, where I have been with the Swedish, the 2 Gallegos who I have known in tour (already were strange to me to me not to find me no, travelling impenitentes as we are by the entire world), and to the meeting they are unexpectedly united Kate, that now is on way towards Zimbawe, with jump including a Zanzíbar. It does not accompany Greg, has remained with the truck in Giving is Salaam, we had supper in the Dolphins, one of the manifold small restaurants of Zanzíbar; the night fills with stars, that from this perspective in the South hemisphere seem different from those from the north; I even create to discover a new constellation to which Unicornio baptism, since to me me it seems it at least. With the satisfaction of the discoverer of new worlds I retire to me. Although I follow subjugated by Zanzíbar Town, I decide to go 2 days to me to beaches of the East, because I need days of " niente dolce Officers' Club of Revolutionary Armed Forces ", and they have said to me that it is the perfect site. Matatu which I have contracted with other travellers fulfills all the requirements, music to all volume, crazy conductor that ignore all the norms of conduction, and a windshield wiper that when it begins to rain we discovered that it does not work, reason why has to lead with the head outside the window; it must use little, so the next time that rains safe that it will be in the same state. When we arrived at Jambiani, a town of 4 houses, parallel to a beach of 15 km in length, that sporadically has groups of cabins on the same beach, I notice that it is the perfect site not to do anything. In order to avoid temptations I go to last cabin, Gomani House, run by family very pleasant, that is hung on the beach with a delicious dining room, and in that room, whose windows are simple holes opened to the sea, and which they feel like sufficient because the temperature day and night is very pleasant, only costs 8 dollars. The breakfast with fresh fruits is refrescante, and the atmosphere totally relaxed; the children ask if I want to me to go to fish, the reef or to dive, and I say to them that thank you very much but what I am going to do is NOTHING. I throw me in the beach, of a so white sand that the sun glasses are essential, and I observe as dhow puts to sea with the high tide to fish the delicious fish that soon will prepare to us with curry and milk of the Coco. In the distance I see approach a people group taking a walk by the beach, and are the pair of the Gallegos and another pair of Vitoria that are lodged in the same site, to half an hour of way by the beach; I am in approaching to me to have supper in the evening to its hotel. It is impossible to be oppressed thus in a site, because the rate worldwide is calm and slow and they infect to you; in the dining room I put myself to speak with the children of the owner who play with a board and a pebble group, in a game that feels like to me at least as complicated as the chess, and although they insist on teaching to me, I stop immediately. An Australian girl whom she pretends to that way take enough time comments to me yes that, that is a difficult game, own of towns evolved enough; Zanzíbar, cradles of the culture swahili, one of the 10 first languages of the world, is one of the sites where it is preserved with more attention. Swahili was born from the bantú, mixed with Arab and Persian words, and its characteristic of open language allowed him to incorporate words of the Portuguese and the English. The Zanzíbar name comes from the word " Zenji-bar ", " land of black people "; she was mentioned in the one and thousand stories nights and the épico poem of Camoens You Luisiadas, and already was governed from 1832 by sultán of Omán and his successive descendants with total scorn towards the black population, although sultán Bargash signed in 1873 the treaty that would end the commerce of slaves in its dominions. With this currículum it is no wonder the access to independence in 1963 degenerated in popular revolts that caused the death of thousands of Arabs and the fled one from many thousand more, settling a government revolutionary which, at sight of the few perspective of future, it decided to confederar itself with Tanzania, governed then by Julius Nyerere and his socialist project. Distracted with char it, I do not notice that the low tide to a trepidante rate, and where bathed me only 3 hours ago is a sprinkled sand surface of pools, and dhow that before floated is beached to one hundred meters of the water; all the feminine population of the town goes to marisquear in that fertile sand strip, provided with dippers to keep the pieces conquered, and surrounded in articles with printed multicolors that are reflected in the water as if they walked on a mirror; this is the main difference with the Galician custom of marisquear in beaches, since in this case usually they go the widows of the adorned sailors of rigorous mourning, on the other hand the marisco is equal from flavorful that the one of the Atlantic; the supper in the hotel of my Spanish friends is delicious under the light of the stars and one, that already is knowing the percal, asks before beginning to have supper whichever beers you cold have in the refrigerator, and before the answer of 6 I recommend to them that they put at least 12 more to cool, because the Spaniards we are fanatical drinkers of beer; they do case to me and that will allow us to have supper until the end with cold beer. The return by the beach under the light of stars and oyendo the rumor of the water breaking against the reef to 500 meters of the beach and the foam crown that is reflected, makes think him to that if it is possible to be slept and to be eaten well with a daily budget of 10 dollars, and that stops long stays can be obtained better prices, probably the cost in a year would not surpass 200,000 pts; the temptation to remain is very strong there, but still ansía to see other parts of the world and the attachment to my earth makes reject the idea; that yes, Zanzíbar will stay as one of the places of a small list to which to go if someday you decide to do a cut to him of sleeves to the first world. The last day in cloudy Zanzíbar amanece and is joyful to see as the sun is wrapped with clouds debilitating them to make prevail its power and warm up this engaged earth. Before the breakfast I am going away to swim, and it seems as if an invisible hand held to me and prevented to leave the water, it is so the well-being sensation that produces that with great difficulty I leave and I am going to have breakfast; to 10 one assumes that it will gather the Matatu to me, and damn it is, by once in 1 month he is precise. I take leave of the Gomani family giving them thanks to swahili " Asante Sana " and saying good bye " Kwaheri ". The delay in the airport of Zanzibar is quite pleasant in the beginning because he is filled with Arabs who return loaded until the tops to their countries, in a flight of Katar airlines, a Jumbo that when it takes off, seems that it cannot raise his belly of the weight that takes; the group of stewardesses is very peculiar, because it includes a Japanese, 2 African, 2 European of Nordic aspect, and 2 Arabs, all of them touched with the typical gorrito and the veil of the one and thousand stories nights. The time is happening and our airplane does not arrive; I know a pair Catalan that has come days to Zanzibar to pass them with their daughter, who works for the ONG Intermón in the fields of Rubber refugees, and that, like so many others that work there, has extended its contract a year more among other reasons because one has fallen in love with another Spanish who works there; he is incredible that in the middle of all that misery, or perhaps for that reason, can be born feelings of love between 2 so strong people that they make you resign to the return to your comfortable home; of course their parents did not understand it. Perhaps although the person in charge of " Air " tranquilizes to us saying that the airplane is on way, that we do not worry, " Akuna Matata ", I do not have all with me; finally, a rumor in the sky makes raise the Vista us all as if the Gentleman had decided to feel sorry itself of us and our airplane appears in the horizon; even so I do not know if I will arrive on time because my train starts off in 2 hours; luckily, the operations of disembarkation and boarding of passengers are made like in a bus, they enter by the front door while others leave by the back, so I arrive at Mombasa with 40 minutes of advance on the schedule, and although I do not have to say to him to the taxi driver who goes fast, I give my permission him so that more express still goes. The route to rate of film of dumb cinema by the city of Mombasa almost indicates that it must be a quite important port, in addition to departure point towards the north of the coastal tourist zone of Kenya, amassed like our Brave Coast and center of the beach tourism and sun to me.

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