Zanzibar, Stone Town, and a 52-hour Train Ride to Zambia

Mambo! (That's Swahili for "what's up?!")  Most of the locals will greet the tourists by saying "Jambo" but "mambo" is more informal so we tried to go with that as much as possible.  You would then reply by saying "Poa" which means "cool."  After that they would something and "Mizouli" as a response would always work.  Then they would think we spoke Swahili and then we would smile and be exposed.  Tanzanians and all East Africans for that matter are very friendly people.  Of course there will always be jerks no matter where you are but we guess that applies to back home too.  Enough rambling let's get to our update.

To all of our Facebook friends:  we've been sending out a lot of "Look at us" posts lately.  Sorry for that but we finally have decent internet and are very excited about traveling at the moment.  We do live in a beautiful world.

After our strenuous hike up Kilimanjaro we were exhausted and in need of some beach time so we headed off to Zanzibar.  Zanzibar is an island off the east coast of Tanzania and we really didn't know much about it before we got there.  We took a bus from Moshi to Dar es Salaam to spend the night before heading off to the island.  Dar es Salaam is very skippable but a necessary stopover on the way to Zanzibar from Moshi.  After our night's stay we were on a boat!


Luckily our boat was a little nicer than these.


Pulling into the port.  Interestingly enough we had to go through immigration again and had our shot records checked for the only time on our entire trip.  We guess all that dough we paid to get those dozen shots paid off.


One thing that we learned when we arrived on the island is that Zanzibar is a much bigger island than we thought.  We got a contact from the place we stayed at in Moshi for a room.  When we called to ask about the price we found out that a hotel called White Sands was a couple of places down.  This was perfect because our new friends, Liz and Andrew, from the safari were staying there.  We were very excited that were were going to be able to see them again.  It's always good to see people that you know on the road.

The owner of the place we were staying, Issa, picked us up at the ferry and we drove an hour to where we were staying in Jambiani on the east coast.  After calling Andrew to see where they were we realized there are, in fact, two White Sands on Zanzibar.  They were over two hours away!  Yup, a bigger island than we thought.  Sometimes accidents happening can be blessings in disguise.  Issa is such a great guy and he made us feel so welcome in his home and his village.  His wife even cooked dinner for us one night.  It was a local dish made with octopus that if cooked correctly was very tender and extremely tasty.  Obviously, she cooked it correctly.


Right behind us was the village and everyday we stepped out you got the "Holy shit, we're in Africa!" effect.  We apologize for the language but that's exactly what came to mind when we stepped out.  OK, our blog is now officially PG-13.


Look at this room!  Another great feature is that it was bargain pricing for Zanzibar.


Our balcony was so huge that Leanne was able to bust out her jumprope and get a workout.  Yes, Leanne travels with a jumprope.  Don't ask Josh, he just goes along with it.


Every morning we were woken up with mass amounts of fresh fruits for breakfast.


We were there for five days and really have nothing to report on what we did.  This was it.  Paradise.



Seaweed is profitable export item.  Most of it goes to sushi restaurants in Europe.


Some of the most beautiful waters we've seen.



Everyday the tides would go out and you could walk for miles.  The tides depended on the cycle of the moon so they got shorter as the moon got fuller.  It was like watching the sea breathe as if it were alive.



More seaweed farming.


You know what Leanne is craving right now.  Sushi!


One day while we were walking on the beach and we ran across a man digging clams out of the water.  He immediately started trying to sell us to come eat in his restaurant.  There were only a handful of restaurants on the beach so we followed him to his place.  He pointed out this sign to us.  It says "Karibu Restaurant Village Where You Eat Antil You Say: Hassan, Please Dont Kill Me With Food".  Uhhh...this really wasn't the best sign to have outside of your restaurant if you want people to eat there. Don't kill me with me food?  He told us a German tourist ate at his restaurant and the portions where big so he told him he was going to kill him because the portions were so big.  Josh told him that it didn't exactly translate very well.  Nonetheless he sold us on eating at his place because the prices were normal and it was inside his house so it seemed like a good experience.


It tasted great and we finished the plates despite sitting inside his kitchen that was slightly warmer than a clay oven.


Hassan, please don't kill me with your food.



The next day we headed to Stone Town to grab a few things on a dalla-dalla (shared van) and had this little cutie to keep us company the whole time.





We returned to Jambiani beach and strolled up and down the beach for the last day of our time before heading to Stone Town.





We originally planned on staying in Stone Town for two days tops but guess what?  Hassan's food almost killed Josh.  He was laid out for three days straight and didn't leave the room because of food poisoning.  You can't say Hassan didn't warn us.  Josh thinks it was probably the sickest he's been in years.  Leanne even found a bag of very expensive Cheetos to try to get him to eat and he didn't even want those.  Josh turning down Cheetos?  Yup, something was wrong.  After a lot of sleep and days of Leanne wandering around Stone Town by herself he was finally back on his feet.

One thing that we need to say is that we were fairly freaked out about walking around after dark after hearing stories from other travelers.  We stayed with Issa's sister and she insisted that it was fine.  She was right, it was more than fine walking around and nobody ever bothered us.  Stone Town is very safe.


We ate at the fish market every night for dinner along the esplanade of the ocean.  Luckily we prepped ourselves by going over every item with Issa's sister on what things should cost.  They like to mark up on the tourists so her input saved us quite a bit of money.


Josh in front of the house Freddy Mercury was raised in.  They are very proud that he lived here and made a little museum for Queen fans to visit.  Of course we went!


We spent the remaining days strolling around the city and taking in sights.



Kitty guarding the bakery.


Mass transportation.


Not all of our time was spent in Stone Town.  We would jump on a dalla-dalla and check out other parts of the island.  Here's a shot of the towns people unloading supplies to one of the northern villages.


Every beach was so beautiful.


One day we hopped on a boat heading to Prison Island to check out the huge tortoises.


They are the second largest tortoises in the world behind the ones on the Gallapagos Islands.  This guy was 155 years old!


Baby tortoise


This was the dock that we were dropped off


After 10 days on Zanzibar it was nearing the end of our visit.  We booked a train to Zambia to check out Victoria falls so said our fond farewells to our home in Stone Town.


Leanne with our host for our time in Stone Town, Indra.  She loved Jasmine so she sprinkled some in Leanne's hair before taking this picture.  Don't let the full clothing fool you, when we were indoors she liked to flaunt her stuff.


One last gorgeous sunset.


In what felt was the blink of the eye we were back in Dar es Salaam at the train station awaiting our LONG train ride to Lusaka, Zambia.  We were very excited about the train ride as we had been longing for a nice ride through the East African countryside.  We booked a first-class ticket on the Tanzania-Zambia Railway for a 52-hour journey.


This was the "First-Class" lounge.  Ok, first class in some countries may be a little different.


Men and women were required to sleep in separate cabins.  We didn't realize this until right before we were about to get on the train.  We tried to plead our case that we were a married couple but the train had a rule that didn't allow men and women to sleep in the same cabin unless they bought the entire cabin.  Of course, that wasn't an option for us so we had to settle on sleeping in separate cabins.  We were told we would be able to hang out together during the day so that was good.



While Josh spent some time at the train's bar (that's right, the train had a bar), Leanne bonded with her cabin buddies.  They were hilarious women and so nice.  They fed us their food and the only way Leanne could repay them was to paint all of their nails!


Leanne's nail salon is open for business! It's tough having a steady hand on a moving train.  They were so excited that they went around flashing their freshly painted nails to everyone on the train.  These ladies like to PARTY and spent much of the night at the train's bar.  Every time Leanne would walk past them they would hug and kiss her, tell her how much they missed her and even nicknamed her "Baby".  

Even though men and women were required to sleep separately, sometimes things just happen for a reason.  Meet our new buddy, Fiona.  She's originally from Northern Ireland but has been living in London for several years.  When we boarded the train, Josh saw Fiona and asked her if she would switch cabins with him.  We were going to try and outsmart the conductor and make an attempt to sleep in the same cabin.  Fiona was originally assigned to Leanne's cabin.  She was such a doll and agreed to switch without even thinking twice.  We bought her beer as a thank you.  That one beer of course turned into several beers and an all night hang out session. Leanne and Fiona quickly became the best of friends and it was like they had known each other for years! 


We were told that night that Josh would not be allowed to sleep in the same cart as Leanne. Boo! Fiona moved back in and Josh move over to his original cabin. Josh's roommate was a man from Zambia. He was building a new house and literally had the cabin packed with sinks, concrete and anything else that you would need.  In the evenings Josh was forced to snuggle with bags of god knows what.  Luckily there enough beers on the train that he was able power through. 

Leanne and Fiona were like college roommates that night, each waking up during the night to check on the other.  

Scenes in motion...






It was impossible to ride on the train and not have a big grin on your face the entire time you peered out of the window.  Every child, and adult for that matter, came running out with their hands wildly waving and screamed hello and goodbye as the train rolled through their village.  It's a treat for the children to see the train because it only comes through twice a week.  Leanne's favorite moment was when a tiny boy came running out of his house with both hands waving and his little pants around his ankles.  The children were absolutely adorable.


 These little cuties threw in some thumbs up for good measure.




Sad moment of the train ride: Josh finally had to give up on his shorts.  We've had them repaired several times all over the world but it was time for Josh to part ways with his favorite shorts.  They were ripped in several spots, dirtier than dirt and beyond repair.  Leanne told him to make a sad face for this picture and this is what happened.  It looks more like a duck face than a sad face. Some little kid wanted the shorts so Josh gave them to him.  We are not sure what the heck he will do with them but we are fairly certain he will find a way to fix them up enough to sell them for a few bucks.


Lunch and dinner was chicken and rice...the view was an extra bonus.  For $3 this is what we got.  We didn't even get tired of it because it actually tasted good.  We found ourselves counting down the minutes until the meal cart came around.  Lame?  Yes! We didn't have any snacks with us so these two meals were the only grub we got. Beers were $1 so the chicken and rice usually had company.



Mbeya - Fiona's stop.  We reluctantly said our goodbyes to our new friend but planned to meet back up in the next few days in Malawi.


Wasting time during a 3 hour stop to refuel.  What?? How does it take that long to refuel?


We finally made our way down the tracks again only to breakdown for an hour.  We were back in business and that night at around 9:00 p.m. we crossed the border into Zambia. It was one of the easiest land border crossings we've had so far.  They actually come into your cabin and you just hand over $50 each and you are in.

The remainder of the trip consisted of us reading, relaxing and enjoying the sights. 







52 hours later and we arrived at the final stop.  The final stop was a small town 4 hours outside of Lusaka, Zambia.  We shared a taxi with some fellow train passengers.  We arrived in Lusaka around 9:00 p.m. that night. It was a long journey and we were excited to lay our heads down on some pillows and were even more excited that we were able to get a place with a double bed. It's the little things in life!

We will pick back up in Zambia on our next post. 

As always, thanks for following!

Cheers, 
Leanne & Josh 



3 comments:

  1. Thank goodness for my slow day at work. I read your blog and smiled as my coworkers assumed I was doing something naughty :-) Love you guys and love hearing about your incredible adventures! Be safe. Love the pictures!

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