28 June 2009

Jambo Jambiani jellyfish

On Wednesday we left our lovely accommodation at St Monica's in Stone Town and headed all the way across Zanzibar to the beach resort of Jambiani on the East coast of the island.

Before we left Stone Town we made a reservation at Kimte Beach Inn. Although it was at the top end of our budget, it was the cheapest place we could find, the review in the Lonely Planet Tanzania was favorable and from their web site the place looked ok. The reality was something altogether different.

The Lonely Planet review used the words "spotless rooms". Who did they send to do the review? Stevie Wonder? Our small, dark and dingy room had murky blue walls with peeling paint and a grubby floor. The mosquito net was too small for the bed which resulted in me being feasted upon in the night. The bathroom shower had cold water only and outside the window ran, what sounded like, a noisy pump. For this luxury we were charged $40 dollars a night.

Wish you were here . . . Bet you're glad you're not!

Hey, it wasn't all bad though! The place was run by a bunch of really friendly Rastas, breakfast was good and they had quite a nice bar on the beach. Not quite nice enough to make us want to stay though.

We ran away after our first night and managed to find somewhere else with better, cleaner rooms for less money. We're now at a place called Shehe Bungalows where we have a little white washed coral-rag bungalow right on the beach front.

The beach here is probably the strangest beach we've ever been to. At low tide the sea, which is a beautiful turquoise colour, is about half a mile away out on the horizon. Walking out across the sand is like being on the moon.

When the tide changes direction the sea surges the half mile back up the beach in about 30 minutes.

It feels quite desolate, especially when the tide is out, incredibly remote and undeveloped.

There's only about a dozen or so choices of accommodation spread out along the beach, half of which look closed, and there's probably no more than 15 tourists in the whole resort.

Walking around the village of Jambiani, which is just behind the beach, you could easily forget that the 20th century ever happened. All of the houses are built of coral and rock with very few being connected to the electricity.

Most of the villagers eak out a living fishing (spear fishing octopus is a local specialty), harvesting seaweed or flogging fruit, shells and snorkeling trips to the few tourists who find their way here.

Despite how desolate it feels here it's still an interesting place to spend a couple of days. The walk down to the shoreline at low tide is really bizarre. There's loads of strange critters scurrying about in the rock pools and wading birds feeding on them. Then when you get down to the sea it is unbelievably blue and warm.

We had a lovely time in the sea . . . Until Liz got stung by a Jellyfish, giving her a nasty 4 inch long sting on the arm. I don't think there's any serious damage . . . Well she was still breathing last time I looked.

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