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Frenzied shouts of laughter and the low but steady thrum of activity emanate from every corner of Zanzibar’s Darajani Market. From the very start, a journey here is a pleasant assault on the senses. Against the backdrop of this chaotic cacophony of sounds and a heady collection of scents, I discovered a delightfully confusing array of wares can be bought and bartered for in this part of Stone Town.
Unguja’s capital seems to comprise an infinite maze of alleyways and narrow side streets. That is until you reach the open square and main hall where all manner of items are on display; from spices and seafood to clothing and souvenirs. It’s a bazaar, and not much has changed here since its inception over a hundred years ago. The original building in which the market once stood still stands, but today its merchants spill out onto the surrounding side streets, alleyways, and makeshift paths.
Image credit: Roman Boed
Just this morning, the sweet nectar coming from the sugarcane juice being sold was still firmly rooted in the soil while my new friend, the sea monger’s, ‘catch of the day’ was still cruising through cerulean ocean waters. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner here is warmed up right in front of you on open coals. I struggle to pick from the selection of sosaties and corn-on-the-cob and the option of picking my lunch from one of the tables lined with freshly-caught-and-waiting-to-be-cooked seafood.
Image credit: Mygola
I may be partaking in the island life, but I can’t go for too long without a caffeine fix. Thankfully, coffee is available in abundance here thanks to mainland Tanzania being renowned for its brew. I’ve spent many mornings getting repeatedly lost in Stone Town’s maze in search of my necessary kickstart, and today is no different.
Image credit: Richard Davies
I’m trusting my nose to take me to the fragrant porcelain cups of freshly-brewed coffee that I’ve bought from a merchant who heats his iron cast kettle over hot coals. I always find him in the same spot: in a piece of welcome shade offered by one of the many overhanging balconies that line these streets.
Image credit: Jonathan Stonehouse
It’s not all fresh food and fun in the sun, though—not if I don’t want it to be. I’ve even wandered through one of Unguja’s most defining pieces of architecture: its House of Wonders. Flanked by the Old Fort and Palace Museum, and overlooking the verdantly landscaped Forodhani Gardens, I was able to drink in the island’s varied history and the vibrant tapestries that have been woven together and stitched by the passage of time.
Image credit; Chen Hualin
Yesterday, I spent the day on the beach. When I closed my eyes I could hear the Indian Ocean’s tropical waters gently lapping against dhows that had been left beached on the sand. I can vividly recall the warmth of the sun and the shadows it painted across my eyelids as it bore down through the fronds of a waving palm tree above.
Image credit: Rod Waddington
The water here is so inviting, so warm, and has a translucent cerulean quality—the perfect aqua-tinted glasses through which to marvel at the darting fish and colourful coral reefs that I’ve been able to spot while snorkelling. But, for now, I’m simply looking forward to my evening cruise, gliding on warm waters in pursuit of the horizon and the setting sun – whichever one comes first.
Wish you were here.
Image credit: Amanda D.
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Jozi-born, Knysna local, and recovering yachtie, Melanie decided that she missed being land-based after 18 months sailing the seas. Now that she lives in the most beautiful city in Africa (she is adamant about this fact), you will find her trying out new things around Cape Town, dreaming about her next holiday, and using Wikipedia to enhance her skills as an encyclopaedia of useless information.
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