Tanzania Part 6: A first taste of Stone Town

Stone Town, ZanzibarWe arrived to Zanzibar’s Stone Town with our taxi by noon, and dropped our bags in Maru Maru hotel which we had chosen as our base. We were very happy with the pick – not only was the staff very friendly, but the rooms were beautiful and the hotel was perfectly located for our planned strolls. So we headed straight out for lunch and had a first taste of the town, which immediately became a favourite. Colourful, friendly, interesting to walk, full of art and very interesting – perfect for the way we like to explore cities. The city is made up of mazes of streets, full of little shops and beautiful doors that I couldn’t stop photographing.

In the evening we went to the Forodhani Gardens which were just around the corner from Maru Maru, where we stood for a while watching young men jumping into the sea, and then enjoyed the evening food market – where one among street food such as fruits and meats can choose from Mr. Banana Pizza, Mr. Superman Pizza, Mr. Nutella Pizza and dozens of other little tables with delicious sweet pizza options. We settled for, simply, Mr. Zanzibar Pizza – and shared a chocolate, banana, peanut butter option which was absolutely delicious. 

Later on, in the Old Fort art market, I found two paintings that I immediately liked – they were thrown into a storage corner and were going to be discarded. Unlike other tinga tinga art (which I find quite messy), these had one colour as the base and then focused on ONE animal each, and were much more minimalist in their style while still being fun and vivid. The sales person didn’t like them, but I did – so I brought them home. Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, ZanzibarStone Town, Zanzibar

Tanzania Part 4: A break on Zanzibar’s Paje beach

Paje, Zanzibar

After a couple of days of rough travelling, and my own months of a pretty intense Red Cross contract (immediately after my Belize contract) – I was more than excited for some relaxing beach time on Zanzibar. Our safari driver dropped us off by the ferry terminal in Dar es Salaam, and after the 2h boat ride we hopped straight into a cab by the ferry terminal. Be careful with the prices as they are trying hard to rip people off, there are even laminated “Government price lists” which are almost 4x the actual price. I had called our Zanzibar hotel the day before and asked what a cab should cost so we had a bargaining goal which we were able to hit.

The driver took us to Paje beach on the other side of the Island, where we checked in at Dhow Inn and had a good night’s sleep after having spent another entire day travelling. What we did next was my favourite of activities – absolutely nothing! We chilled on the beach, read books, walked around, painted our nails, had nice dinners, went to nearby Pingwe to the hyped restaurant The Rock which indeed was very cool – and spent the entire afternoon just chilling at Upendo, a chilled bar where we had fruit cocktails while a dj was spinning Fela Kuti tracks. We stayed until the mosquitoes came out.

Paje was a quiet and calm town with crispy white beaches, low tide and palm trees, friendly Masaai men selling handicrafts without being too pushy, and kite surfers with long hair spending their entire days on their boards. It was low season so there weren’t a lot of people around and it would probably have gotten rather boring to spend another day there – but to really get a proper break and some quiet time, Paje was absolutely perfect.

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, Zanzibar Paje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Paje, Zanzibar

Paje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar Paje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, ZanzibarPaje, Zanzibar

Tanzania Part 3: We survived our safari in Selous so I could show you these photos

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Next morning, we took off after an early breakfast and headed straight to the gates of the Selous Game Reserve again, where we spent the day first walking and then driving around, learning about the plants, insects and animals that the wilderness of Tanzania wanted to show us.

Finding the lions was not an easy task, but suddenly we saw them – and just as we did, our jeep got stuck in the mud. The driver wanted to get out of the car to manually shift the wheels to 4×4, so he revved the engine and opened the door to get out, but the lioness was just looking straight at him, from the other side of the hood, just a couple of feet away from where he needed to reach to hit the switch. He decided to close the door and get back into the car.

We closed the windows but our roof was pretty much open. I took some photos of the lioness that seemed rather uninterested, but judging from how our guide started sweating and looking rather uneasy, we sat down quietly and looked at her and her cubs in awe through the window. As the tension in the air slowly rose and I started wondering how long we would be sitting there and calculating how long the water would last us for – another jeep with a Japanese film crew pulled over, and their guide helped us out of the mud.

A similar thing happened with the elephants, as we had been looking around for them the entire day. I love elephants so I was excited to show my mom their grandeur, but the elephants in Selous were very different from the ones I had seen in Swaziland and Botswana before – Selous is apparently also a quite busy hunting ground, and elephants are intelligent animals – let’s just say they were not excited about seeing our jeep, and did everything to scare us off. And that elephants are big, scary and very dangerous.

All in all, it was a very enriching and exciting experience, but we basically survived both death-by-lion and death-by-elephant just so I can show you these photos, so do enjoy.

And yes – there were zebras too, and giraffes of course – ever so gracious.

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - Tanzania

Tanzania Part 2: Rufiji river cruise

Selous National Park - Tanzania

After our second night in Dar es Salaam, we got packed and ready for adventure – and were picked up at 7.30 in the morning by the tour company we had booked a tour with – Waterbuck Safaris. We drove for almost six hours to the Selous Game Reserve, where we were going to spend two nights at the Zarafa Tented camp, and were greeted by the very nice manager, Henrick, with popcorn and orange juice. After checking in and dropping bags, we headed straight to the Rufiji river, where the captain took us for a cruise to see the sunset, some birds, crocodiles and hippos.

A very nice evening after a quite tiresome drive. And a gorgeous sunset.

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania
Selous National Park - TanzaniaSelous National Park - Tanzania

Tanzania Part 1: Our first two days in Dar es Salaam

Going to Tanzania

As per tradition, my mom and I went for a trip in August. This time we went to Tanzania for two weeks which were to consist of walking, eating and exploring. We landed in Dar es Salaam, where we stayed in the middle of downtown and spent the first two days just walking around town and exploring. As always, we headed for the markets (The Kivukoni fish market and the Kariakoo market), spoke with people and tried a lot of street food. And on the second day we went to the more touristy Slipway Shopping Center in Masaki district where we sat in a bar by the sea and had a well deserved break, and I had a Savanna Dry cider! Hadn’t had those since Mozambique and was very happy to finally officially introduce my mother to the refreshing taste and a glimpse of what my life in Mozambique had been.

We were so excited to be in Tanzania and start another adventure, and this one had all the good things in store.

Dar es Salaam

Dar es SalaamDar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam

Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamVeronicaDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es SalaamDar es Salaam

10 jours au Liban

Some photos from when I in June decided to become good friends with solitude again, and travelled to Beirut by myself. I had wanted to visit for a long time, and no friends were really able to join – so I went anyway, and had an absolutely fantastic time with the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, many of whom became friends.

I stayed at Staybridge suites, an apartment hotel with great staff, great location and an absolutely fabulous rooftop pool where I really found the headspace I needed from some of the most intense months of work ever for me. I strolled alone around the city, I took some time to read, to swim to sit in the sun. To be alone. It didn’t take long before I found my new friends at the hotel though. Less than a day actually. Among them was Maja, a polish girl I met in the elevator who also happened to be alone in Beirut. And Marwan and his friends, who became the best possible Lebanon guides. There were also a bunch of other strangers who always prove to be courteous, friendly and great.

Needless to say, there was a lot of dancing. And I can hands down say that of all the cities in the world that I’ve danced in – Beirut nightlife wins. Sunrise and all.

Lebanon

LebanonLebanonLebanon

Lebanon

LebanonLebanon LebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanon

LebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanonLebanon LebanonLebanonLebanon LebanonLebanonLebanon Lebanon LebanonLebanonLebanonLebanon

LebanonLebanon LebanonLebanon

Weekend in Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

With a long weekend ahead of us in the end of September, I decided to sell my tickets for a concert I was planning to go to and instead accompany Nuria to pick up her car from a workshop in Tulum in Mexico. All completely unplanned, we jumped on the first best chickenbus on Saturday morning and made our way north though the green landscapes and swirly northern highway of Belize. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love going by bus. (Look at this collection of tripping from 2012) I was listening to music and disconnecting completely, and even if it eventually took us almost 11h (twice the time it takes by car) to arrive in Tulum, it was all pleasure.

In Tulum, we were picked up by my friend Alfonso who runs the creative and environmentally responsible space Residencia Gorila, a sort of artsy collective where creative minds from all over the world gather to spend some time, get inspired, and create. A very nice place to disconnect, and very much in line with what Tulum is all about.

We spent the night at Gorila and the days at the beach, and some time at Alfonso’s home and office in Aldea Zama. We went for dinner at the always amazing Casa Banana, breakfast at La Zebra according to tradition, and had pizza and tequila with new acquaintances, we also had random talks about art and went dancing a bit. The town was very quiet because of the low season, but it was still a million times better than spending a long weekend in Belize City.

We spent the entire last day at the car workshop, waiting for the car to get ready – which they had promised over and over it would be. I had my book and music so overall it was actually a nice relaxing time even if a bit frustrating and worrying. I finished the book – Jessica Alexander’s “Chasing Chaos” is an entertaining and very personal account of the life, doubts and insights of a humanitarian aid worker – recommended!

By 9pm the mechanics realized that the car wouldn’t get ready on time for us to drive back, which was a bit of a nightmare since the only option we had left to get back to Belize City on time for work was the ADO night bus. And this bus is nothing short of horrible – it’s ridiculously cold and blasts the AC so hard you can’t hide from it, it stops and throws you off for bureaucratic bullshit every time you’re about to fall asleep, and you arrive in the morning at 6.30am feeling completely destroyed, kind of like as if you haven’t slept for a week and as if 5 elephants stomped all over your body. I guess it works if you’re doing backpacking for months and have time to spare – although then I would definitely even more strongly opt for the chicken buses – but getting to work directly after is really not to be recommended.

I had coffee when I got to the office that morning and made it through the day even though I wished I could have spent all day in bed. I will try really hard to avoid ever going by this bus again, but overall it was worth it. And thanks for your utter kindness, Alfonso! You know you always have a home wherever I’m at.

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria

Tulum with Nuria