It was inevitable. We had not one – but two breakdowns – in a single day.
Breakdown #1 came at the worst possible place in the oldest part of Zanzibar’s Stone Town. As our van maneuvered into a narrow tunnel, it suddenly died. Traffic jammed in both directions. We jumped from our vehicle to help push the van out of the tunnel. Now what? We pushed a bit more and a street mechanic materialized. We left the van by the side of the road to be fixed and headed into the narrow streets of Stone Town with our guide.
Breakdown #2: Our group of seven friends were confused. We had hired Eco and Culture Tours for three half-day tours while we were in Zanzibar. According to our itinerary, today we were to visit a Spice Farm, and had dressed accordingly. Why were we even in Stone Town?
Our guide, Mande, told us this was the schedule for the day as he plunged into a (tourist trap) market area. Wait a minute! We had specifically written when we made the arrangements for our private group that we did not want ANY shopping on our tours. He continued to lead us into the shopping maze, and we continued to ask that he please not include shopping. Clearly he was not happy that we’d vetoed the shopping portion of the tour.
We all plunged on after him, hoping the day would improve after this rocky start. We arrived at the crowded fish market.
We’d hoped to see more of the architectural features the town is famous for – particularly its wooden doors. Maybe on our next visit.
We knew Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the rock band Queen back in the 1980’s, was from Zanzibar, and we walked by his house.
Christ Church was built on top of the old slave auction site. In fact, the altar of the church was built directly over where the whipping post had been. The Church guide, David, told us about the slaves brought here from eastern Africa. Many perished from the horrible conditions. Survivors were auctioned off. The slave auctions continued until 1876 when the sale of slaves was finally outlawed.
Beautiful flowers grew by the church. Maybe they were remembrance flowers marking the non-existent graves of the many captives who did not survive their time on Zanzibar.
Another van picked us up. We crawled through Zanzibar Town traffic for a long way, tired from the breakdowns and tour, and deeply moved by our last stop.