Another bright and early start, accompanied by animal sounds, and we pack up camp, another breakfast of tropical fruit, smokey fire toasted bread with butter and jam and bacon and eggs. Luca made me a cup of tea, as he had been charging around all morning – first one up, first one packed, first one with his gear in the car, ready to go. Mark joined us for the drive to the airport – we still saw so much game – dikdik, impala, topi, wildebeest, hartebeest, 3 lions resting in the shade, we closed our windows to keep the tsetse fly out (the kids killed 9 of them), buffalo, giraffes, zebra, and another hippo pool full of pooping, snorting hippos.
We made it to the airport in good time, and stood around talking to George and Mark. They were both such lovely men. Mark played games with the kids, taught Luca some knots using his shoelace, then taught him how to lace his shoes a different way. Our pilot, Sean, came over to greet us, and we walked our bags over and onto the plane. He asked if Luca would like to sit in the front with him, as we had a full flight and the co pilot seat would need to be used. The Wayo boys stayed by the runway, waving as we taxi’d down the runway, and still waving as we took off almost directly in front of them. Luca fell asleep in the cockpit within minutes of takeoff, as did Milla next to me, much to Big Charlie’s distress. He would have loved to be in the cockpit. It was great flying over the land we had been driving over for the last 10 days. We saw another huge cater near Ngorongoro and many Masai huts in circles with a cattle yard in the middle – we hadn’t been aware of that when driving past. The landscape changed from the wooded grasslands and open grasslands to much lusher forest in the hills and on crater walls, then to drier land as we approached Arusha.
We flew to Arusha first, landing on the basic airstrip. We clambered off the 12 seater and went around the other side of the plane to identify our bags so that they could be tagged for the onward flight. we then walked across the tarmac to a transit shed – just a tin roof, no walls. After a few minutes, we were ushered to another area, at least there were toilets and a couple of shops there, still not many walls. The kids and I bought some souvenirs, we all ate our packed lunch, and waited until the next instructions. We were told to go to the only desk, where we wrote down our names and passport numbers on a piece of paper. This was check in. No ID checks, nothing electronic, a handwritten boarding pass that didn’t include names or seats. Old Skool. Eventually, about an hour late, we were led over to our ‘Tropical Air’ plane, a bigger propeller plane. We were second on – the first couple sat right by the stairs at the back, so we had to wait for them to stow their bags before we could proceed to the front. The cargo hold was directly in front of us, the plane was a Russian plane at some point, going by some of the labels, and the Swahili signs were written in texta with neat horizontal pencil lines to keep the writing straight! Hilarious. Again, Milla snoozed, Luca and Charlie played, and we landed in Zanzibar an hour or so later. Poor old Milla’s cough is no better at all, and she is a bit snotty, gets suddenly pale a couple of times per day and has been sleeping a lot in the car. It has been odd this trip to have both of my kids actually leaving the dinner table to go to bed, at their own request. Dinner here always seems to be at 7.30 at the earliest, which is much later than we are used to, but the kids are rarely asleep before 9 at home, so I have been surprised, especially by Luca. I have a doctors appointment already booked for Milla when we get home. She’s been coughing for months, and it has been alarming to spend all this time with her and realize how tired she is, more so than the other kids.
At Zanzibar, we passed through a form of passport control – we again had to write our names and passport numbers on a piece of paper and hand it to a lady in uniform before passing through and waiting for our bags to be brought from the plane on a trolley. We were met by our driver who helped us with our bags across the muddy gravel car park, and then the quick drive through Zanzibar town to Stone Town, the old district by the waterfront. Zanzibar town looked similar to Moshi and Arusha – a main road paved, then with dirt roads coming off it, buildings made of found objects with Pepsi, beer, and washing detergent ads. Funny how we see so much promotion of Pepsi, but have not seen it for sale at all – it is all coke.
Our hotel, Kisiwa House, is lovely. An old stone 4 story house, wooden stairs (not all even), but quality workmanship in the rooms for the tiling etc – the best we have seen in this country. We have a small sitting room, and enormous bed and a nice bathroom with a big bath. Just as well, as I had a big load of washing to try to do. Nothing actually gets clean when I am hand washing like this, but hopefully we get some of the stink out. At least we had not worn many different clothes when we were camping for the last 5 days – I had only worn 2 different tops and 2 different pants, neither of which I bothered to wash – they can wait until we get home. The kids pants were filthy, but again, I did wash them out but don’t expect them to be worn again before we get home, if ever!
Stone Town is a falling down, decrepit area. We found the touts again, but are better at walking on. There are a lot of young travelers here, so old retirees, few families. It is a Muslim town – there is the call to prayer, women dressed in black from head to toe, and men in traditional long pale dresses, with beaded caps. There is a little school just behind our hotel – just desks, chairs and a blackboard, and Arabic script. The waterfront is filthy, and we actually saw some young men back their ute up and dump their rubbish into the water. Mind you, we can see no rubbish bins anywhere.
We decided to have a drink at sunset on the balcony at Africa House, as suggested by our driver. We climbed the rickety, wobbly, wooden spiral staircase to the balcony. It was soo hot – at least 35 degrees with high humidity. We were all sweaty and flushed. We ordered a couple of drinks and snacks and 3 liters of water – the waiter didn’t believe us! The drinks were bland, the water almost cool, the sun went down beautifully, the snacks were ridiculously, insultingly small, and then the power went out. No music, lights, fans or eftpos. We paid cash, walked down the stairs in the dark (Luca fell and banged his knee), and walked home. We ate in our hotel restaurant, seafood platter for Charlie, chicken curry for Luca and Charlie, pasta for Milla, steak for Gran and fish for me. $90 for 6 of us, with drinks – cheaper than home, convenient, and every last bit was eaten – the first time Milla has finished a meal in a fortnight.
The cool shower was blissful, getting into clean clothes was even better, and I was able to assess my histamine reaction to the bush. Oh dear. I have horrid, angry red welts around my ankles, my knees, behind my shoulders, at my wrist and on my left forearm. They are a combination of tsetse fly bites and grass prickles, I think. And they are sooo itchy. Cortisone cream applied, telfast swallowed, air con on to keep cool, and then to tackle the 300 emails received, and catch up on Facebook 🙂