Zanzibar Happenings

I feel like the reason I picked this song is self-explanatory…

A brief overview of what has happened since I last posted: Swahili class got switched up and I was moved into a class I learned things in, we visited Paje, visited Zanzibar’s Anglican church and the old slave market, visited some caves and slave chambers, broke my camera (oops), visited Zanzibar’s oldest mosque,  went snorkeling, had a “Ramadan” meal, saw monkeys in a mangrove forest, visited a spice farm, ruins of the last Sultan’s palace for his concubines, house of wonders museum, Sauti ya Busara, old fort, laid on a lot of beaches, spent nights at the local bar, and nights at the food market in the local park, and afternoons at a local bakery and a local coffee shop. My days are usually rather full, and my life is even more so.

[Wow. I’ve been busy. I need to journal more…]

Given that I’ve been so busy and that a full analysis and description would be pages and pages, I’m just going to give a sentence or so of explanation for each event and then you are all free to contact me in some way that you clever people will discover on your own and strike up a conversation with me to talk more about something that interests you. If you’re interested, I love stories 🙂


The Swahili class is with 3 friends and my professor, with a lovely teacher who actually taught us what we didn’t know instead of squeaking what we did know (The first teacher had a squeaky voice. Does it make me a bad person that people with squeaky voices aggravate any vice I perceive them to have? Oops.).

Paje is a little village on the east side of Zanzibar island with a big beautiful beach. We learned how some of the local women use spices and seaweed to make soap to sell, and then we had several hours of a beach day. Skinny dipping may or may not have happened. You’ll never know.



friends and I on the beach in Paje

Zanzibar’s Anglican church (the one there was a bombing at day before yesterday…more on that later) was built on the site where the island’s largest slave market was. Zanzibar had a global slave market back in the day, and then England outlawed it, and this church was built. There are memorial pieces as well as the remnants of the rooms where the slaves were held-piled, really- before they were sold at the market. The little chapel next to the Cathedral is also where I have been attending English church every Sunday this month.


the memorial of the slave trade in front of the Anglican church

The slave cave was a big underground cave where slaves were allegedly kept before they boarded ships to go off to international places after the slave trade had been outlawed by the English.  We went down the sloped, wet, slippery, treacherous steps…and I fell and broke my camera. It was super fun and cool. I hope I can get it fixed in Arusha. Anyways, after we bravely tackled the treacherous stairs, we spelunked through the cave that would not have met any American safety standards, which was a fun adventure, even though the straight-up rock climbing was clearly still more safe than those stupid stairs (who, me? Bitter? Sorry.). After that we visited an underground chamber (basically a basement in the middle of nowhere with nothing on top except a roof) where slaves were definitely kept illicitly.

On the south side of Zanzibar is the island’s oldest mosque, Kizimkazi. The first stones were laid in 1107 A.D, and right outside are the graves of people who are reputed to be distance relatives of the prophet Mohammed. We were lucky enough to be able to go in and learn some history of the mosque. Afterwards, we ate lunch and went on the search for some dolphins to swim with. We didn’t find any, but we did get to go snorkeling over some coral reefs (my first time snorkeling) and it was SO COOL! I just floated for an hour with my face in the water watching all the beautiful life down below me. It was… exquisite in a wild sort of fashion that we don’t have on land any more.

Our professor’s host family was gracious enough to prepare a meal akin to that which the local Muslims eat during Ramadan (which, coincidentally, I celebrated when I was in Spain last summer).  All of us students took a daladala over to his house and feasted, accompanied by several hours of just hanging out and hanging out. We’re all becoming actual friends, and not just trip friends of convenience. This makes me happy.


getting ready for our Ramadan feast

I don’t know what to say about the monkeys and the mangrove forest. Except that we could basically touch them and they were adorable.



freaking adorable baby monkey. look at him. just look at him.

The spice farm is about the same. Spices have always been a really big deal here, so we got to see how they all grow.

 Also, the ruins for the last sultan of Zanzibar’s concubines is about the same as the last two. Although he was on top of that advanced-aqueduct situation.


very ruin-y ruins…

The house of wonders was the Sultan’s house, and it was the first building in Zanzibar with electricity and an elevator.

Sauti ya Busara…I could probably write an entire blog post on this one. Basically, it was a big music festival in the Old Fort, and hands down the best night I’ve had since I left the states. Then again, I’m pretty biased, since I’ve been craving a music festival for the last 6 months. Again, if you want to know more, get ahold of me 🙂



the group of us at Suati ya Busara

It’s been pretty great here, by and large. I’ve felt safe enough to go to bars with friends and lay on tourist beaches where I don’t have to be covered head to toe and have eaten way too much dessert while I’ve been here.  It’s kind of been a month of bonding with the people I’m here with, like I’ve said, and I know these friendships are going to continue. And honestly, it’s the relationships that I’m happiest about.

But. There was a couple of bombs that went off in stone town on Monday. It was political, and no one was hurt. Then, yesterday, walking home, a guy tried to steal the iPod in my hand when I was with 3 friends in broad daylight. He didn’t get it and he booked it. But, I think now I’m ready to go back to Arusha on Sunday. This next month is going to be different than the last two, seeing as instead of class we all have separate internships and  are spending a couple days in a rural village and a night in a Maasai Boma and a week of spring break going on a safari! I am constantly amazed that this is actually my life.

In other news, my major switch from Political Science to Philosophy is about as official as one can get when one is halfway around the world from their campus. Also, I applied to be a Small Group Coordinator next year, and I’m praying I get it! If I got it, not only would I be employed with a leadership position next year, but my housing would be completely taken care of (finally!!). So, if you guys would be willing to send up prayers that I get it or send out good vibes or whatever, I’d appreciate it.

This was supposed to be a short blog post. Oops. Oh well, if you care enough about my life to read all the way through this, it’s probable I love you, and you are definitely a wonderful person. Hopefully I’ll have some sort of internet to post from Arusha. Until then, safari njema!


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