This morning we begin a marvelous walking tour of Stone Town with our local guide named Hamed. Much as I love to see the animals of this wonderful continent, I also really enjoy trying to better understand the people, their family life and how they live and work. We take a million pictures of this town trying to avoid offending anyone by openly taking their pictures. Life in Stone Town is hectic with a large market culture, many varieties of fish, meats, fruit and vegetables are available in the open air market. Women in traditional arab dress (very few fully veiled but all with head scarves) walk easily in the streets often alone. Many are very beautiful, slim and elegant; their robes often black, their headscarves made of fine fabrics with very bright colours and lovey patterns. The men are more likely to be in groups, talking or working at something or zooming their motor bikes through the narrow streets.
After a beautiful buffet lunch at the Zanzibar Senora Hotel we visit the ruins of the Maruhubi Palace, Mtoni Palace and drive around the town in our air-conditioned van/bus with Hamed explaining the highlights and answering our questions. Hamed grew up in Pemba, the sister island to this one which is called Unguja, both islands comprise Zanzibar. Pemba is more agricultural. Unguja is more cosmopolitan; Stone Town attracts tourists from everywhere and has fascinating markets. As is true everywhere in the world, young people gravitate here to the city for jobs and nightlife. Those who want to (and are able to) farm are attracted to Pemba. The highlight of a day filled with highlights was a sunset dhow cruise that took us out for 3 hours on the water. On our return the beach is alive with kids swimming, adults relaxing and tourists wandering. We decide to indulge in gin and tonics and enjoy the beach vibe. We are sitting next to the deserted British Embassy which is run down and needs a wealthy owner. We enjoy a light dinner back at the Jafferji House hotel. We are so fortunate to be travelling with our hosts – and now friends – from Commendable Travels, a new and charming friend from Toronto and the recently-retired Canadian ambassador to France, Spain and Chile (in separate postings) and his wife, who is also just retired from the foreign service. They have many stories and perspectives about the world and are charming, knowledgeable and fun, all wonderful travelling companions.