WEDNESDAY 20 NOVEMBER Linda and I were up at first light and set off to explore Zanzibar Old Town. We wandered through the maze of streets, with the mysterious old buildings crowding in on us, their ornately-carved doors tightly closed to the outside world.
Down by the waterfront, the sea was a sheet of pale blue glass, and not a ripple stirred at surface except for the slow passage of small dhows. The air was as still as a limpid pool, and out on the horizon, the silss of dhows could be seen against the background of grey and blue.
We sat and watched people swimming in the cool water between the moored boats as the sun rose behind us to light the tops of the coconut palms. Eventually, the maze of overhung streets, running with water and mud, led us back to the hotel, where we packed up and had breakfast.
The scene at the bus station was one of utter chaos. Dozens of small matatus were turning to and fro, while a mass of people and flies, goats and cats, milled around with produce for the market across the street. By a process of trial and error, we found the bus that was going over to Bwejuu Beach, on the eastern coast of the island, and we loaded our gear onto the roof and squeezed in with the locals. The bus was an old Isuzu truck with a wooden frame built over the back, which creaked and rattled as we bumped along the tracks. About 2/3 of the way there, the bus stopped to take on a load of rice in large sacks¹, and we spent the last 20 kilometres of the journey lying flat on top of them.
Bwejuu Beach was beautiful: an endless stretch of white sand bounded by countless coconut trees, and washed by water that was almost hot to the touch. The little villas built amongst the trees were tidy and cool, and cost us five U.S. dollars each, including breakfast.
¹The rice in the sacks was infested with weevils, which crawled over the sacks upon which we lay!