We stayed at Vanilla House in Jambiani – the Eastern side of the Island. This side of the island was better (for us) than the more touristy northern part we visited last year. It was less crowded and most things were charged in Tanzanian Shillings, rather than USD: 10 000 tzs = $6 = R 48

On the first night we arrived in Dar es Salaam, mrb went to draw cash and came back with a TZS5000 note in his hand and whispered to me: “I dont know what the exchange rate is, but I just drew 5000!” hee hee; its ok babe, thats only R24!! 😀

Our holiday was awesome, but we did have really crappy accommodation, which put a huge dent in how much we could have enjoyed it.

The self catering house is in a superb location, but the facilities were seriously lacking. They advertised all of the following and had none of it: Internet Access, Laundry Service, Bar on the Premises, Library (only a couple of polish books lying around…), Fireplace on the Premises, Internet, Boma Fire, Fully Equipped Kitchen. Thats most of their advertised facilities and it does build up a certain image in your head of what to expect. mrb and I aren’t ppl that need 5* all the way, but we do appreciate the basics like everyone else.

There was no hot water in the shower for the entire 2 weeks we were there. We asked the guys looking after the place every day for the first week if it was going to be fixed and if they can let the owner (who is residing in Poland) know… but they just laughed and ‘didnt understand’ what we were saying. And of course nothing was done about it. We had to shower in ice cold water (and its not that hot in Zanzibar this time of year!). One night about 2/3rds of the way into the holiday we resorted to boiling water in pots on the gas stove and pouring it into a little bucket and tried to get clean that way…

The bed was really very uncomfortable: its one of those foam mattresses with massive dents in it from too many bodies sleeping on it. We literally could not get comfortable enough to sleep. We tried the other 3 rooms but they were all in the same condition. The last 4 nights I was sleeping at the bottom of the bed trying to find a spot that had some support. Shame, and then mrb had a cockroach run on him on the last night in bed. I don’t even want to know where else that thing had been up to that point.

In terms of bedding, there was only ONE double sheet to use for a blanket, for both of us. I had to fight mrb for it for a few nights before I eventually tracked one down to use myself.

I think the most annoying thing though was that the locals use the house as their own. They dont have running water or electricity in their shacks which surround this house, so they come along to cook and shower and wash their clothes on the premises at all hours of the night / day. The guys looking after us have keys, so they simply let themselves in whenever they feel like it.

We woke up in the middle of the night so many times with ppl in the house cooking and showering and using the toilet and banging pots and pans and carrying on, it was actually ridiculous. And when you complain, then suddenly they cant speak English any more.

The water pressure only works when you flick a switch (which only works if there is electricity – which Zanzibar doesn’t have reliably). And when the switch is flicked and the toilet is flushed or a tap opened it makes the scariest blood curdling screaming noise. When you’ve evenutally fallen asleep and suddenly hear that sound, its really enough to give you a heart attack and send so much adrenalin rushing through your body that you have no chance of falling asleep again.

Not the fault of the house owner, but there were also cows-mooing, square-eyed-goats screaming and cocka-fucking-doodle-doos carrying all day and all night. Every day and Every night.

Its also a Muslim area, so we have the all morning, all day and all night prayers blasting in our ears. That in itself wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that this dude could not sing to save his immortal soul. No pun intended.

Towards the end of the 2nd week, Ramadan started and it turns out the locals have a little tradition of running around outside banging pots and pans and shouting at the top of their voices at 4:00 (or earlier??) in the morning, which obviously ensures that everyone is up early enough to eat before sunrise. Everyone.

The ‘laundry service’ by the way is a lady cleaning the bedding by hand in a bucket under an outside tap (the very same bucket we bathed in!)… along with the rest of the locals who often turned up in their underpants with buckets of dirty clothes and cleaned them under that same running tap, right there where we were trying to sit and have breakfast. Yummeh.

About 1/2 way through the holiday I had to use the same bucket (thank God for that green bucket, eh?) and tap to clean some of our own clothes.

See the geen bucket?

So not exactly relaxing, when you consider we’re supposed to be on holiday and we’re constantly having to live around ppl who don’t speak English but sit on all the chairs, invite their friends over, talk and laugh very loudly and use the kitchen… there was no escaping it.

During all 14 nights we were there, there was only one night that had 2 other rooms booked out, so we should have had the place to ourselves (ie: privacy!!) the whole holiday, but instead we shared it with the rest of Jambiani.

We had to buy our own toilet paper when they ran out and there wasn’t ever any milk for coffee. In fact there was no kettle either. We had to boil water on the gas stove and put it in a flask.

The locals farm and harvest seaweed, which they collect in great big bags and leave lying around everywhere to dry. They get something ridiculous like tzs200 per kilo (thats less than R1!) and sell it to various countries in the far East (China, Philippines, Thailand etc). Once dried, its very light and you need a lot to make up even one kilo. So you can imagine how much they collect everyday and how much lies around on the beach, on the grounds, on any available surface area, really. One word: STINKY

Needless to say, we were VERY happy to be going home at the end of the trip. We were tired and moody, but very happy to be boarding the ferry back to Dar es Salaam.

Of course about 20 mins after this picture was taken (we were sitting on the top level of the ferry) we all had to move, because the ferry was going against the wind and so against the (very big) swell also. The entire top deck got completely soaked.. but that was only the beginning. After 30 mins, we saw the first victim: A tiny woman with her face in a sick bag hurling her guts up. With 2.30 hours of swell to get through it wasn’t long before more than 1/2 of the ppl on board were chucking up. It was sooo disgusting. Puke everywhere!! Thankfully mrb & I didn’t get sick, but checking all those people feeding the fish, was pretty disgusting!  We had an Indian man sitting near where we were standing, who 2hours into the trip looked like a pomie. Shame.

Of course the highlight was getting to the hotel in Dar for our last night in Tanzania. The bed, this time, was the opposite of what we had in Jambiani. I said to mrb that it felt like we were sleeping on a dining room table with a sheet thrown over it. He said I make it sound comfortable! Oh and then there was the drilling on the floor above us. The porter said it wouldn’t carry too long (being 6pm on a Saturday night already.) At 8:30pm we called to reception to ask just how long this drilling was going on for (I mean it was interfering with our tv reception, and we were trying to enjoy the new teenage mutant ninja movie!) and she told us that they should be done by 10pm!! lol. Irk.

A 04:30 start, the following morning saw us bidding a very happy farewell to Tanzania.