Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar is an island archipeligo off the coast of Tanzania. It is part of Tanzania (since 1964) but enjoys some autonomy from mainland Tanzania in it's local government and legal system. The capital Zanzibar City is on the main island of Unguja. Within the capital is Stonetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is just as you would expect from the name...a town built from stones. What you would not expect is that Stonetown boasts tangle of narrow streets that twist and turn, some only wide enough to walk through or bicycle, others just wide enough for a car. Stonetown is famous for it's carved doors. More on Stonetown later.

Zanzibar has a fascinating history as it has been a major stop on the trade routes for seafarers for 3500 years. It was also a stop for the Jennings; here is the photo essay from our holiday.

This is the life: Powder white sand beach and turquoise blue waters.
(above) The renovated Sau Inn at Jambiani Beach. I told a friend I stayed here and she laughed -- "Doesn't Jambiani mean 'I fart on you?' or something in Swahili?" I doubt it but I sure can't think of anything else when someone talks about Jambiani. (there is alt. story about the villagers discovering a jambayi, a dagger, on the beach and the name evolved from there...)

At the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park we did a forest trek to see the Red Zanzibar Colobus Monkeys (above, a female with her pink nose and lips) which are endemic to Zanzibar and are protected within the park. There are only 54 species of terrestrial mammals on Zanzibar and 23 are bats. Many were introduced (civets) and some are the stuff of legends (leopards). Other mammals include: tree hyrax, bush pigs, shrews, duikers, giant rats, bushbaby, monkey and squirrels. The Red Colobus are considered pests because of their diet which consists of new leaves and unripened fruit. The monkeys lack both thumbs (on their hands they have only 4 fingers) and also lack an enzyme which would enable them to digest sugar (hence the annoying unripened fruit habit). They eat charcoal to help with their digestion and have four chambered stomachs. They hang out in groups of 30-50 and are spectacular acrobats. When we were walking we came upon a group of 15 or so running and playing in the trees and on the ground....and on Finn's head! A Mariner's cap never saw so much action. WEEEEEeeeee!

A new feature of the park is a sea turtle sanctuary. This area is just being developed and we hope to see the progress they make over the coming years. For now they have a saltwater pond with 7 female sea turtles from age 2 to 35 (if I am remembering correctly). It was a bit sad to see them in the pond but I suppose they are doing their bit for sea turtle conservation and the caretakers were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. They will be rotating through a small population every 2 years (they ahve. I suppose better to see them in this setting than flipped over on the beach waiting to become somebody's supper. We spent a good amout of time with them and really enjoyed the information and the answers to the many questions the boys had upon seeing the turtles (green sea turtles) and feeding them seaweed.

(below, a hideous attempt at a family photo at the 5 star lux. resort we stayed in while the big guy wrapped up his 'meeting.' Other locations that had been proposed for the meeting included Nairobi, Angola and Nigeria.... I had a mommy moment when owen's eyes grew strangely large at the breakfast buffet upon spotting madeleines among the offerings....he ate a few bites and put it down, "Mommy, yours are better." what a kid.)
(Below, with apologies in advance for my artisanal-fisheries-geekiness.) Seaweed farming was introduced to Zanzibar. In the rural fishing villages on the coast that are protected by barrier reef, seaweed is farmed in the lagoons, primarily, though not exclusively, by women. At Jambiani and estimated 400 women are working farming seaweed. To "farm" they tie bits of seaweed to a string tied between two sticks and leave them in the lagoon. The little 2meter square plots are like mini underwater vineyards. The seaweed grows and matures in about 5 weeks and they collect it, dry it and start all over again. They earn about 4,000 TzShillings for a bag of dried seaweed). Prices have dropped significantly since 2006 and farmers are having a tough time finding buyers. The seaweed is exported and likely ends up in your ice cream, making it rich and creamy.

Son-rise with Kitty


1 comment:

Kathi of Clan Church said...

What beautiful photos and interesting information! I feel as if I've sat through a geography class taught by a very cool teacher.

Seaweed making ice cream creamy? Who would have thought?