Friday, December 31, 2010

More from Stone Town

Each evening, we went down to the water to a park called Forodhani Gardens. Every night, vendors set up their tables and sell food to hundreds of people just like us.

You choose what you want to eat, and then they will cook it on a grill. Between all of us, we tried octopus, barracuda, baby shark, tuna, red snapper, shrimp, and beef. You can see below how crowded it gets every night.

Before we ate, we watched lines of young men diving off the walls of the island and then climb back up for more.

When that got old, Kylie decided she wanted her hand painted with henna,

And then Karis decided she wanted to do it, too.

After eating, the kids wanted to go to the playground – which we had to pay to play on.

They really stood out.

My kids haven’t seen television in a long time. We have a TV to watch movies on or play Wii, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, at the hotel where we stayed, they had cable, and my kids were drawn to it like a moth to flame.

They were watching a National Geographic special and Karis needed to go to the bathroom, so she said, “Pause it, please,” not even thinking that that was something strange to say.

Small things like that make me smile.

Extra pictures:

Goodbye Zanzibar –

Side note: I know I haven’t mentioned this before, but Obama is quite popular here, as you might have guessed. They sell Obama gum, Obama T-shirts, and restaurants and buildings are named after him. They even sell material with his likeness on it, so that you can make things out of it.

Here’s someone’s handiwork.

Another side note: For all you Queen fans, I learned the Freddy Mercury was born and raised in Zanzibar.

The End.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Zanzibar, Stone Town

Stone Town is a city of historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, has a number of distinctive features, as a result of Arab, Persian, Indian, European, and African traditions mixing together.

The heart of Stone Town mostly consists of a maze of narrow alleys sided by houses, shops, bazaars and mosques.

Since most streets are too narrow for cars, the town is crowded with bicycles and motorcycles that can seem quite deadly at times.

The name "Stone Town" comes from the use of coral stone as the main construction material; this stone gives the town a characteristic, reddish warm color.

The most well-known feature of Zanzibari houses are the finely decorated wooden doors,with rich carvings, or

sometimes with big brass studs of Indian tradition.

Two main types of doors can be distinguished: those of Indian style have rounded tops,

while those of Arab (Omani) style are rectangular.

They truly are beautiful.

In the tradition of these beautifully carved doors, wood craftsmen now make a business of carving beautiful boxes that Zanzibar is becoming known for.

Caleb was excited to get close to a couple of Massai. He asked if he could shake their hands, and I said, “Of course.” I missed taking a picture with the first one who intimidated me a little, but I got the picture with the second one.

We walked and walked and Caleb got hotter and hotter, so I’ll end this post with a picture of Caleb getting relief from the heat.

More from Stone Town tomorrow.

Zanzibar beach

After our safari trip to Makumi, we took a bus back to Dar so we could fly out the next day to Zanzibar. I had never heard of Zanzibar until I moved to Africa. I'm really bad at geography, but I'm getting better.

Zanzibar is a group of islands off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. Arab and Portuguese traders visited the region in early times, and it was controlled by Omanis in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today they are sometimes known as the Spice Islands, since spices are one of its main industries.

We stayed at the beach two days before going to Stone Town, the slang name for the capital of the island, where you can still see the historical remnants left behind by the people of Oman.

Before I tell you the rest of journey, let me show you our travel companions for the eleven days we were gone.

Lynn and Jan Skuza

Caleb was clearly happy to be here.

You can see the seaweed on the beach? We stayed on the side of the island where seaweed is harvested.

You can see in this picture below what looks to be stumps in the Indian Ocean.

They are actually women, fully dressed, walking out to gather seaweed.

Here is a rather blurry picture (because I took it inconspicuously from far away) of a lady on the beach sorting out the different kinds of seaweed. She takes the sturdier, lighter color seaweed with her, leaving behind the slimier, less firm kind. That's about the extent of my knowledge of seaweed.

You may find it funny, but I forgot I was in Africa when I was at the beach.

I was always reminded I was in Africa while driving around or trying to be understood at an eating establishment (because I don't speak Kiswahili),

but when I saw this lady on the beach,

and I saw this lady going to clean rooms, I was quickly brought back to reality.

Always the head...

I cracked up over this one.

Caleb was trying to keep his swimsuit from getting wet...while standing in the ocean.

Whose kid is that?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mikumi morning

Aren't you glad my safari lasted only two days? Because this will be my last post on the subject, and you won't have to hear about it again, but I stood in awe of my God the following morning, too.

We woke up at 5, so we could get an early start. The mountains that had shown so brightly the night before at sunset, were now a dismal gray.

With the sun rising, everywhere I looked, something was changing. Colors would be dull one moment and then bright the next.

Grass was brown in one area and green in another. It was picturesque.

“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.” - Ps 103:11

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” - Ps 18:30

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” - Ps 84:11

“In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” - Ps 19:4b-6

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirst for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.” - Ps 63:1

This is my favorite of the morning. The three colors of nature make it so beautiful to me.

Of course, the animals were amazing, too.

I loved getting pictures where two or more types of animals were together.

The wildebeest are a bit skiddish.

Isn't it amazing that each one is so different, like a fingerprint?

This was my favorite animal shot. From this angle, it looks like the giraffe is the actual trunk of this tree.

The End

The whole crew -

Ready to go get some breakfast and hit the road back to Dar!