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The East Coast

After a couple days on the north coast, we took our little Subaru, dodged the thousands of school kids walking home from class, generally in the middle of the road, and headed towards the east coast. Doing 60kmph is about as fast as you can go as the traffic comes at you from all angles.

Our Car

Our Car

We made it to Jiambiani and started our almost daily search for a place to stay. This is something that I will not miss now that we are done with the 3rd world. You stop at all these crappy little mom and pop places, ask if they have space, what the price is and then look at the room.

When you only want to spend $30 in Africa, you don’t find much.

The first place we stopped at was really nice. Private beach with a bar. Separate little cottages with modern shower and bedrooms. Really nice. Right away I knew it was out of our budget but the place looked dead.

“How much?”

“$115 a room”

“Oh yea. Sorry That is way out of our budget.”

“What can you spend?”

“50 bucks a room?”

And when he said “Let me ask my manager” I had these glimmer of hope that with nobody else at the resort, we would make the score of the trip.

He went back to the bar and called his boss.

“No answer. But I know this other guy. he has a place maybe you can stay in” and I was pretty sure everything was too good to be true.

Long story short, nothing panned out and 30 minutes later we were on our way.

We came upon the actual village, which was the prettiest of the beach towns. All the houses, or what we would call shacks, were bleached white and the streets were clean. Kids ran around, played soccer, but generally it was very quiet.

We saw a few more nice places, but too expensive at around $80/night. Then we found cheap places that were dirty and nasty at $20/night. We were starting to get frustrated as the sun set when we finally found something that would do. $30/night for a split cottage on the beach. Plumbing was OK and was decently cleaned. I hoped this was our last third world hostel.

Our Hotel - Looks etter from a Distance

Our Hotel - Looks better from a Distance

A bit later we headed down for a walk down the beach. After 30 minutes or so we crossed inland and walked across a restaurant. Well, the sign said restaurant and “Most happening place in Jimbiani” but it just looked like an empty room to us. It was 6pm and there weren’t even tables setup. We were about to leave when the owner came up to us

“Come in! Come in! Check out the menu.”

I planned a quick getaway but something about the man and the menu made us take a second look.

“Are you open tonight?” as we looked around at the empty room.

“Yes! yes! We can make whatever you want on he menu. I have many tourists that come here. They love the food! Eve a tourist helped me pay to expand the restaurant. He was dutch and very nice. He thought the food was the best in Zanzibar!”

At the Hotel - Clearly they wanted us to eat at THEIR restaurant

At the Hotel - Clearly they wanted us to eat at THEIR restaurant

We hadn’t really had much local food yet because there just much to be had. Africans eat a lot of Ugali (cooked wheat and water) with some veggies and maybe on a very special occasion, some meat – maybe in a massala or curry sauce. Hassan had 4 or 5 different local dishes on his menu and after some discussion, we decided to take a risk on the place. We figured it would either be an awesome experience to remember or a horrible experience that might leave us sick for days – though that would still be a memory.

We placed our order for what would be a feast and Hassan told it would take 2 hours to prepare. “Come back at 8:30 and everything will be ready!” Hassan seemed to be pretty passionate about the food and we were excited to come back.

At just before 8, with the lights out and us a bit nervous about walking the streets of Africa after dark (though I think Zanzibar is pretty safe), we arrived at Karibou. Hassan was behind a counter or desk or some piece of furniture and his team of 4 other cooks worked steadily in the kitchen.

The beer came out, and the food came out and we sat down to a feast as Hassan explained each dish and also all the others who had come to his restaurant (who also must have had some courage). He talked about the gossip of the community (A German couple who bought a house and hen split up when the wife went for a local) and how Hassan had helped many people from Europe build houses here in town. I think he might have been giving us a soft pitch on a vacation property but I’m not sure.

And the food was excellent. We ate and ate and left full and when we were nervous about the walk home, Hassan walked us all the way back to our hotel, stopping along the way to tell us stories of other residents and explain the seaweed farming. All in all, a great experience.


One Response

  1. Wow, that is a great story – Hassan sounds like a nice guy to have met. 🙂 I loved the pictures!!

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