East Africa Day 7 – Zanzibar

Tanzania — By on October 4, 2009 11:53 am

Woke up around 6.30am. Stone Town was awake all around me.  Cocks were crowing, birds were chirping, children playing, people sweeping, men shouting….it was hilarious.  I couldn’t believe the noise levels all around me at such an early hour.  I couldn’t possibly sleep.  I was exhausted, and dragged myself out of bed eventually at 8.30am to pack my bags.

I had breakfast – pancakes, omelette, bread, butter, and lots of tea.  Chi-chi, the Rastafarian owner of Manch, took me to the airport for 10,000 TZSh.  He hadn’t yet slept – back not long ago from the Kendwa Beach Full Moon Party, where he boasted of sleeping with 2 young, drunk girls at once – an Aussie and an English girl.  Good man.  Dirty slags.

Got to the airport, a small place with a boiling hot departure lounge – the aircon wasn’t working, nor did it ever work.  Caught a 12-seater Cessnar, piloted by a Scotsman, strangely, to Arusha airport.  Smooth enough flight.  I am by now used to flying in planes like this, and even smaller, after Venezuela a couple of weeks before.  I sat behind a guy from Denmark, who uncannily resembled Daniel Craig.  Was met, after much confusion, by my contact here, and the guy recommended to me by Liz, Baraka.  A slight fellow, resembling the rapper P Diddy, with a big smile greeted me.  Baraka seemed a nice enough chap.  We drove to Outback Lodge, a place Baraka recommended.  Nice.  Swimming pool.  Quiet, leafy gardens, $47 a night.  I paid by credit card.  After this, I withdrew 1.2 million Tanzanian shillings and gave it to Baraka, who went off with his friend to change it to dollars, leaving me to chill in the café by the pool with a cappuccino.

I took a stroll to the Clock Tower, a focal point in Arusha.  Touts hung around, being rather pushy and menacing.  I went to the internet café to check exchange rates, and found that 1.2 million was way more than Baraka needed to get his $650.  More like 900,000 shillings – 300 Sing Dollars less.  I had already transferred $1000 from Singapore.  A private safari doesn’t come cheap.  Apparently the buying rate is so bad that for 1.2 million shillings Baraka got back $690.  I found it hard to believe, and felt foolish for entrusting 1.2 million to a stranger, recommended or not.  Anyway, me, Baraka, and his friend went to a real locals place for a local dish in the evening – goat meat with fried banana, and washed down with icy cold beer.  Soon, another person joined.  It ended up being a 30,000 Shilling round – that’s 30 sing dollars.  Then it was onto another bar, where another girl joined, then her leggy friend.  Now, I was paying for drinks, top-up vouchers, everything.  I knew this was the norm, but it had to stop, and when Baraka asked if his friend could come on safari, I knew I’d be the one paying for it, so I sent a firm and clear SMS telling him the limit of my generosity had been reached.  Went to bed very happy….my safari adventure was about to begin.

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