Notes from a trip made in 1996

The streets of Stonetown are winding and narrow. It was easy to get lost in the maze of alley ways. Along the way were many small shops selling spices, souvenirs, antique clocks and African art. This small stand sold bananas. Only bananas.

I could not escape the stares of the people. Fare skin and light hair, I was obviously a tourist. There were not many American tourists, even less American female tourists. It was not until later that I realized I was attracting attention because I was wearing shorts. My knees were not covered.

Most of time I was scared to walk around alone, especially after dark. While walking through a very dark alley near my hotel I was approached from behind by a guy who tried to grab my camcorder. He didn't get it but I did fall backward and was amazed how many people came to my defense and to help me up. I was told by several residents that had he been caught, he might have had his hands cut off. Knowing this, I was glad he escaped.

The children were very friendly. Jambo! Jambo! Jambo! (How are you?) they would shout as I walked by. I brought some of my favorite toys, plastic bugs, to give to the kids. You would have thought I gave them a hundred dollars. I wished I had brought more. The schools were dark and dirty, hot and humid, but the children were happy.

After several days in Zanzibar, we boarded the live-aboard catamaran INULA to Pemba Island, just north of Zanzibar. We came across a seaweed farm. They welcomed visitors and told us the story of how they held the record for the largest seaweed harvest in the area.

The fishermen in their dhows were everywhere. They brought us fresh fish every day. These were the only other boats we saw.