African shoestrings – Tanzania Day One Hundred and Twelve the last day!

Our last full day was spent just aimlessly wondering down the alleys and streets of Stone town, stopping to browse the bazaars, have a coffee or something to eat. We finished off the day with a meal at the Stone town bistro in the old dispensary building. The old dispensary building was in fact a charming old building that was restored to its former glory in the mid 1990’s. Built for one of the richest Indian merchants in Zanzibar in the 1890’s it was donated as a medical dispensary by the same wealthy merchant at the end of the nineteenth century. It stands four stories tall with decorative balconies that give it a sort of colonial feel. We dined there twice and each time with the sort of feeling that you were dining in the same sort of atmosphere that the British Raj would have done at the height of their colonial power. We felt the urge to look around at any newcomers in case they had handlebar moustaches, belonged to the coldstream guards and said “what old boy” every other sentence.

As we left the restaurant I suddenly remembered (I’m ashamed to say that I forgot) the cricket world cup! Australia was playing South Africa in the semi. Immediately the search began for somewhere that a) had a TV and b) had it turned on and tuned into the cricket. We searched high and low and eventually found one at a hotel not far from our guesthouse and seeing that it was tuned into the wrong channel I cheekily asked the lone resident if she minded if I switched channels. We sat down ordered a drink (we thought we had better) and then proceeded to cheer like madman as the game seemed to ebb and flow from one side ‘s advantage to the other. The porter, the receptionist and a few other members of the hotel staff weren’t the slightest bit interested in the drama that was unfolding in front of our very eyes, they found our reaction much more entertaining. Not so the lady who we had hijacked the TV from. She disappeared quick smart.

Those of you who saw it will recall that South Africa needed 9 runs to win in the last 4 balls whilst Australia needed 1 wicket…………….. Lance Klusener hit 2 successive boundaries and we shook our heads discontentedly. The staff looked at us puzzingly……………. The next ball and Klusener panicked and ran out his partner, Alan Donald (to be fair to Klusener, Donald was not backing up enough).

It’s a draw and due to some rule or other Australia earned the right to go through to the final. Now we’re both up and jumping up and down, shouting and carrying on whilst the totally bemused hotel staff looked on even more puzzingly.

OK, you had to be there!

Our final few hours in Africa were spent pretty much the same way as the day before. Aimlessly wondering the alleys of Stonetown soaking in the atmosphere and feel of the place for the last time.

We checked out of the Malindi and caught a taxi to the airport. During the half an hour wait or so I totaled up our expenditure. We had failed to keep to the original daily budget and ended up spending, on average, $130. This meant we had spent $3300 more than we had budgeted and work would have to be found almost immediately we hit London. Oh well, we shrugged, we did have great time. “What’s three grand in the scheme of things!”

It took about 20 minutes to fly back to Dar es Salaam with great views of the some of the surrounding islands shimmering in the heat surrounded by the deep blue and turquoise water.

We were looking forward to being able to easily find our way to the international terminal and crash for a few hours before our flight. That plan disappeared very quickly.

The airport that we landed at was not the main Dar airport so we had to get a taxi the 1.5 kilometres to the international airport. We didn’t exactly have a choice as to which taxi we took. Once we hit the deck our bags were taken by the airline staff and deposited straight into a taxi waiting there. The driver must have thought we were rich tourists ripe for plucking. He wanted to charge us US$12 to take us. Eventually after much haggling we got him down to US$5.

At the international terminal we went to stroll into the building and were stopped. “Yoo a not aloud to go in de terminal until de chick in coonta is opan” a rather officious lady told us from her desk at the entrance. “yoo will ave to wait over der” she vaguely gestured towards a courtyard with two bench seats already filled with passengers waiting for their airline “chick in coonta” to open.

We had no choice, we had to admit defeat.

As Stephan would say, “Africa wins again”

But Africa is so spell binding, so beautiful, so rich in nature at its best that it won the day we first set foot on its fragile soil.

Footnote:
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The Old Dispensary in Zanzibar, Tanzania

The Old Dispensary in Zanzibar, Tanzania

 

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