Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The one where Tim learns to appreciate moisturiser

We left you before, having a break after our most recent volunteering. After much debating about Masai Mara safaris and the like, our budget called us to a self-guided cycle safari.  Instead of US$80 a day in the game parks, we ‘splashed out’ on £8 for 2 bikes and £1 for cheese sandwiches. After setting up our tent (or our tent being set up for us!) next to Hippo lake…off we went.  I almost passed out at the top of the first incline. And then again at the second (I just don’t think cycling is my thing).  But luckily most of the trip was flat, and upon our return home, those inclines were downhill. Praise the Lord.  We loved the fact that we saw tons of wildlife, genuinely in their natural habitat, and ‘Giraffe Crossing’ signs were as common as deer signs in the UK.  

Tim confused at a walk way roundabout...

Our tent being set up for us - behind Tim is the electric fence that stops the hippos from coming to eat us!

My first handmade camp fire

The giraffes are circled!

Not the 'tiny rhino' that Tim thought it was but a warthog...


Later on that evening, we took a boat ride from our camp site to see the Hippos close up! Now, noted that these are the 2nd biggest killers in Africa, the first being mosquitoes, I was surprised how confident our easy going Captain and (what seemed to be made out of papier maiche) boat were. Nonetheless, we saw the hippos and tried to encourage the Captain not to rev the engine so that we could have a better look at the hippos yawning mouths.  It’s never very encouraging to see the hippos slipping under the water because you never quite know where they’ll pop up!

Anyway, from there we made our way to Zanzibar. 2 night stopover in Nairobi, 14 hour bus from there to Dar es Salaam, overnight in Dar, 3 hour ferry to Zanzibar and a taxi ride to the hotel. Very glamorous way to rock up to paradise.

View from bus

Seeing a dhow from the ferry over to Zanzibar
'Home' for 2 weeks in Zanzibar

Check out prices and the typo of 'biryani'

Living in Stone Town has been fun…it’s a World Heritage Site because of its few hundred wood carved doors and buildings made from coral.  Its roads that twist and turn are hard to navigate, but it’s good that Tim has an inbuilt SatNav.  He can get us back ‘home’ in daylight, night time or during a black out no matter where we are.  It’s similar to Venice, minus the gondolas.  However, they have been replaced by scooters and bicycles haring through the streets.  Their horns and bells alert you as to their arrival as a courtesy before they plough you down.

As a result of our accommodation (in a tourist trap) and Swahili lessons, our daily budget has left us £5 a day for lunch and dinner for us both.  This has meant finding local places to eat, haggling at the market for tomatoes and learning to stock up at breakfast :o) It has been fun sharing food with locals and enjoying the wealth of spices that the Zanzibarians use in their cooking expertly.  (Slightly trickier during Ramadan mind you, as no food places are open during the day!) Living sparsely has been a challenge but enjoyable as we get better and better at balancing our cash book!  It’s been bizarre when someone says that a Sprite is 1,000 shillings and you have to remind yourself that that’s only 40p.  Pulling 400,000 out from the bank in 10,000 notes still amuses me.  

Teak carved doors

Dinner at the market

At weekends, as we’re not spending money on lessons, we splash out at visiting things.  On our first weekend, we went on a sailing trip on one day and to a spice farm on the other.  

The sailing trip included 2 snorkelling spots, visiting a sand bar, dolphin spotting, a bbq fish buffet on an island, an exotic fruit tasting session and then home.  Don’t know how it happened but we ended up on the boat with 6 adults/parents, 8 children and us. Oh and lest not forget the German’s speedos.  ‘Nuff said.  The morning was overcast and the sea was a little rough for the snorkelling but we still saw lots.  By lunch time the sun was out and paradise revealed itself with crystal waters and pristine sandy beaches.  By lunch time, Tim started to hurt.  By lunch time we’d realised that the old ‘it’s cloudy therefore I can’t get burnt’ untruth revealed itself and Tim was the same colour as the lobster on our plates.  Despite his pleas of ‘but I packed a t-shirt to snorkel in so I wouldn’t get burnt!’ Yes, but the t-shirt was still in the dry bag wasn’t it.  Thus the following 3 days consisted of 4 hourly applications of aloe vera moisturiser and sitting with his back facing the fan in our room (a poor man’s aircon!).  We enjoyed the day nonetheless.

Swimming in the mangroves

I told Tim to take a flattering photo of me
So here I am realllly far away and thus look v.small/slim!

The spice farm was like an interactive library of information.  We loved learning about different combinations to make our food taste ace at home and remedies for when you have a bad stomach (3 teaspoons of cloves, boiled in hot water for 15 minutes in case you were wondering.  The guides additional advice was make sure that you’re at home and the bathroom is free after this as it will flush you out. Noted.)

Teak forest at the spice farm


Tim sticking a curry leaf up his nose
Swahili lessons started soon after arriving and we have been in the swing of mornings of reading, doing puzzles, recreational code writing on the computer for Tim and mooching followed by afternoon lessons.  I picked up a Jodi Picoult (my first) left at our guest house and was lost in the book for 2 days.  After I felt slightly lost without it.  Lessons have been good.  Mwalimu Hassan (teacher Hassan) arrives late and then leaves for 15/30 minutes during the lesson to go and pray…we picked up a phrase about Africa that says ‘You have to hurry up and wait’. How apt.  

Mwalimu Hassan

Sunset in Stone Town

Cinammon at the market


Detail in the doors

Empty dalla dalla

Rammed dalla dalla

Dalla dalla was worth it to get to Pongwe

Having finished our Swahili lessons now we are attempting to use it at all opportunities and it has been v.helpful in haggling for lower prices on things.  But we still struggle with the 7 noun classes, mixture of native/Arabic/Italian smuggled in it and the words that have too many vowels in them, that the language has and we endeavour to inform each and every tourist of that who says to us ‘Oh Swahili seems quite easy to learn’.  Little do you know my friend. 

To end our Zanzibari experience, we went to the north of the island to Nungwi for a night.  We’d heard of its beauty and went – sadly to be greeted by pants weather but beautiful views all the same!  We even got a ‘sea-view’ room!  Despite the fact that the windows were meshed to stop mozzies (even though there was a 1 inch gap between the outside door and the floor!), there was only cement on the floor rather than tiling and the hot and cold water taps were on the wrong way round…it was our little bit of paradise!

We are now in Iringa with Ben and Katy Ray - friends from the Perranporth Beach Mission I used to do every summer!  They are here helping run a craft shop/cafe/guest house/workshop all staffed by disabled people.  They will be out here for the next 6 years and have been here 3 months so far so we're here doing our best to help them!  We're working with the disabled workers, most of whom are deaf...as a result our Swahili sign language is coming along nicely...!  We're here for the next 5 weeks so I'm sure the next blog will include more about what we're doing!

Prayers/happy thoughts

  • A big yippee and thank you to Mr God for getting us here safely and that we have a home to live in whilst we're here with lovely friends
  • Pray that we would remember the swahili we've learnt! And endeavour to add to it, both in speaking but also in signing!
  • Pray we'd stay well - no serious upsets thus far!
  • Pray that we'd be useful!
That's all folks!


Tic Toc xxx


  1. Amazing. Thanks for really great blog. JohnD

  2. You sound like you are having amazing time. Photos superb. Miss you. Ally xx

  3. So glad you are having such a wonderful time. Make the very most of it. The memories really will last you a lifetime. James xox