What is 90 km long, 30 km wide, and a small piece of paradise? Zanzibar!
We took our first steps in Africa at the location of the world’s shortest war. Zanzibar surrendered to the British after just 38 minutes of naval bombardment in 1896.
Today Zanzibar is part of the country of Tanzania, and is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast that includes two large islands as well as many smaller ones. In 1965, Tanganyika located on the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar merged to become Tanzania.
The archipelago is only “semi” autonomous, as illustrated by recent elections where the mainland didn’t like the results of the popular vote. “Discussions” are currently occurring to determine what might be better.
The “semi” is also seen in slightly irritating immigration requirements where you pay for your visa on the mainland while still in transit, but then are asked to fill out almost identical forms after landing on Zanzibar.
(Okay I was grumpy because we were six hours delayed from Nairobi and didn’t appreciate filling out the redundant paper work!)
Zanzibar is absolutely beautiful. The colours in the ocean are every shade of blue and green washing up against white sand. We are staying 10 km south of Paje, a centre for kite surfing on the island. Every afternoon hundreds of kite surfers skim over the ocean.
We walked along the beach to a nearby village called Jambiani. The locals are curious, shouting out “jambo” or “hello” as you pass by.
The usual touts were located along the beach, but they were also friendly and walked away when we said a simple “no thank you.” One particularly interesting tout named Raphael let me take his picture.
Jambiani is a poor fishing village with homes that have seen better days. It’s estimated that 68% of the population in Tanzania live on less than $1.25 a day.
The locals of Jambiani make their living as fishermen. Women also gather seeweed when the tide is low, and some lucky locals make money from tourism.
We saw first-hand today why volunteering in this country will be a small contribution that we can make. In two weeks we will head to Moshi for six weeks to teach English to low income elementary students. Can’t wait!