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.

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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

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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

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Lebanon

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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

Cuba Pt. 10 – The last but not least of Cuba: A long walk, a nice dinner, and some last fun and play in that rooftop pool

La Habana,Cuba

The portrait above is without doubt one of my favourites from the Cuba albums, the unforced and charming smile, the shadows, the colours, the hat – and capturing something so old and foreign to us, yet so common on the island – payphones. In some places people were even standing in line to make a call from one of these. 

With only one day left to explore La Habana, we went for yet another full-day walk. I always think that we meet the most interesting people and see the most interesting things when strolling around without a goal, so to compromise, we usually do the “must-see’s” with my mom, and then make sure we have some time left to “just walk, talk and look” so I can take my photos and feel like I get into the vibe of the place. It’s a good deal and one of the reasons travelling with my mom is so comfortable – we get to do both because of our different priorities.  So we walked and explored 14km of the city by foot, and among some interesting characters, we met Ivan with the cool hair-do and then found our way to Plaza Vieja again where we sat for a while and had mojitos and delicious Cuban croquetas. We also stumbled upon the chocolate museum where we sat down and had a couple of pralines, and we basically walked all day until it got dark and we had to make our way to the San Cristobal Paladar on the other side of town where we had booked a table for dinner. A nice walk in less touristy parts of the city.

San Cristobal was a nice restaurant with a quite unpredictable decor, and the food was fantastic. We ordered black bean soup with sweet potato chips, fried yuca, and the lamb, which was delicious and a perfect choice for what has become my once-monthly ration of red meat. We had some mojitos in the mezzanine of the hotel on the way back, and then a nice long lazy sleep – our last night on the comfy Saratoga mattresses. 

Next morning we packed, had breakfast at the nearby Hotel Inglaterra which serves a nice and very priceworthy buffet for 6USD per person, and went straight to the pool to get some last moments of fun in the sun before flying out. The Saratoga staff agreed to give us a late checkout and I think by that point we decided that it actually had been a good choice despite the cost. Cuba had overall been quite an expensive trip, but all had worked out really well – from the convenience of the car rental, to what we felt was an appropriate amount of nights in every place, to the people we had met and the things we had seen. Cuba treated us really really well.

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La Habana,Cuba

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La Habana,Cuba

La Habana,Cuba

La Habana,Cuba