In the winter of 2019, Henderson Productions took a small group to Tanzania for a 14-day adventure. This blog series tells the story of the trip and our fellow travelers. Using our network around the world, we curated a tour to give us local connections and experiences beyond the normal tourist choices. For more information about our upcoming trips, subscribe to our newsletter.
We were blown away by the quantity and variety of breakfast choices we had – omelets to order, cardamom cake, samosas, chicken wings, crepes, chapati, stuffed eggs, cooked banana, breads, beans (pinto & kidney), fried potatoes, fish fingers, individual fruit plates, chili sauce, condiments, fruit juice, water, tea, and coffee. Crazy good, we stuffed ourselves not realizing the next load was coming for an entire hour. Whew!
At 10 our driver arrived for the short trip to Stone Town to drop us off in front of the fort to meet our guide. By 10:30 we embarked first to Fordohani Park for a view of the House of Wonders – currently under renovation and not available to tour. Into the fort built by the Arabs (looking just like the Portuguese ones up and down the coast.) in 1689 after they drove out the Portuguese from the island. The courtyards now hold the big seasonal music festivals with art stores and bars tucked into the walls.
Out onto the streets, Othman paused at Freddie Mercury’s childhood home, taught us about the arched Indian doors and the squared Arab ones. Stopped at a souvenir shop with ac and bottled water, a few trinkets purchased, and we moved on. We all enjoyed interactions with shopkeepers and kids as we were led on a maze of alleys. Paused at a cordial square with a Jaws mural while men played bao and checkers. Popped in and out of a few shops dependent on interests including one really lovely photography gallery.
We arrived at the Church of Christ built on the grounds of the slave market after the British forced abolition on the Sultan of Oman in 1873. The altar has reputedly been placed on the site of the whipping block. A pleasant tour, Q&A in the church before the compelling monument to slavery and a visit to the underground dungeons still in tact that functioned as auction holding areas complete with chains and shackles – one dungeon for women and one for men.
The main area of the museum held a comprehensive telling of the slavery story with a definitive slant on the Arab traders, little or no representation of the great unknown final destinations except to reference the US and UK as the largest importers.
I DO feel a significantly greater understanding of what happened long before arrival to our shores which is much appreciated. I asked to buy a book of the exhibit, but they referred me to their website offering the back of a chap’s tee shirt for the address. Likely the mission is missing an income stream but I’m glad to have a reference to further absorb the enormity of the exhibit. Many referred to it as comparable to the Holocaust Museum. Agreed.
We left in search of lunch and landed at crowded Lukmaan Restaurant – clearly a local and expat favorite. Found a couple tables and while others tried to decipher the photo menu, I got up to look at choices in a cafeteria-style arrangement. No question I wanted the whole red snapper being fried on a cast iron grill next to four-inch prawns. And a hunk of fluffy, flatbread called mandazi. Add a coke and I’m happy. I didn’t know it would arrive with slaw and a super spicy chutney for a bonus. Easily could have split it Others had beef skewers, chicken pizza, curry and rice, seafood stew, etc. It was convivial, convenient and totally yummy. Even a clean loo visit before we left. Perfect.
Wandered some more to the spice market for the feeding frenzy that was inevitable in both directions. Othman wanted us to go to his guy – fine by us. Other vendors tried to scavenge the edges of our group to no luck as the real buyers were inside the ring tossing prebagged island deliciousness into shallow baskets for bundling negotiations. In this case it was five of us buying while the rest joshed and joked with other vendors or shot pics.
Our departure route was through the meat and fish markets after midday casting a subdued thought of caution (to those who considered it) about the fresh greedily consumed lunch and evening meal to come. Hmmm.