Wandering around Zanzibar as I arrived, fresh from the Dar ferry on a tropical March afternoon, my first thought – and my last when I left a week later, as it turned out – was that this enchanted African island speaks to all our five senses. Here’s what I mean:
: the sun setting over the cerulean Indian Ocean, endless white sand beaches, kids practicing martial arts along the seafront, the colours of the foliage, of clambering vines and of tall, willowy palms against an impossibly blue sky, the unique heavy wooden doors with metal spikes, the Old Fort of the Omani Arabs, the Sultan’s Palace, the mystical House of Wonders, remnants of another era, long gone.
: the sounds of singing in the street, the muezzin calling to prayer, the hum of crickets, the laughter of my tree-climbing friend picking fruits for me to taste, the sound of waves lapping gently in the background as I laze in a hammock reading a mystery – set in Zanzibar, of course.
: touching the velvety petals of frangipani flowers, stroking the soft fur of Zanzibar’s feline friends, the cold, rough stone sculptures of the kumbukumbu ya historia ya watumwa, the slave memorial.
: the island’s succulent shellfish, the sweet fruits, the spices, the flavourful rice, the cocktails at Africa House at sunset, where the mojitos taste better than anywhere else.
: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could capture scents with our cameras? If so, I would reproduce the fragrance of Zanzibar – of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, of incense, of the aromatic cooking in Forodhani Park at dusk, of Jasmine trees wafting through my window as the air ripples past my face while I slumber behind flimsy white mosquito nets. Most of all, Zanzibar is about scents.
Wonderful, wonderful post! Very suggestive! I would love to go there one day.
Thanks, Agata 🙂
My daughter has been to Zanzibar and came back talking about many of the things you mentioned. She loved the place – just not the flight there in a dust storm.
You continue to amaze me with your travels.
Oh you must visit, Leigh. Zanzibar is like nowhere else.
Wonderfully written Sophie…oh how I want to go to Zanzibar!
Thank you, Corinne 🙂
you had me at the smell of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. i have been on an african cuisine cooking frenzy lately (mostly western, but sometimes eastern) and this makes me crave something of the sorts for dinner 🙂 hope to see zanzibar one day!
You will, I’m sure, Megan. Sooner rather than later 🙂
Zanzibar, don’t you just love the sound of that word? Intoxicating and exotic, Zanzibar’s been on my list for far too long. Thanks for reminding me of its allure.
You might be on to something there, Sophie – a “peel and sniff” plugin like what we get in magazines to capture the beautiful scents of Zanzibar.
I know what you mean – some names just sound so wonderfully attractive and Zanzibar is definitely one of them. Samarkand is another. And Bagdad.
Oh, thank you for bringing back so many memories! I travelled there years ago as a medical student and your words just made everything flow back. Thanks 🙂
Happy to 🙂
The most memorable visits speak to all five senses – it’s neat to see you document that! Hope you had an amazing time in Zanzibar 🙂
The best time 🙂
Zanzibar just exudes exoticism … this post makes me want to buy a plane ticket for Tanzania!
You wouldn’t regret it. 🙂