Here Comes The Planet 44 – Tanzania 01

The first of our Africa videos! After completing a long to-do list before arriving, we finally get to Tanzania. Our friends Leigh, Nicolette, Lucas and Kat are along for the ride, sharing the African leg of our trip with us. First order of the day is some relaxing on the island of Zanzibar before we start our safari tour. Amanda and Lucas get their hair braided at a local village after learning how to weave palm leaf baskets and make coconut rope and we all eat at The Rock restaurant – which sits on a rock just off the coast.

Also, surprise adoptions!

California

Oakland probably wouldn’t register on many people’s radars when it comes to must-see places in the USA, but we spent almost a week there, venturing across the bay into San Francisco twice. We were staying with my friend Robert, whom you may recall we met in New York several weeks ago. He grew up in the area and knows a great deal about the history of Oakland and the Bay area.

Robert took a couple of days off and we went on several excursions out of the city. The first one was to Muir Woods, a well known patch of the giant redwood trees that California is famous for. The trees here weren’t the largest in the state
but they certainly looked big enough to us. We went for a walk and enjoyed the deep silence and tranquil atmosphere of the forest. Although there were a few other groups about it was a week day so no hoards of tourists. The weather was also cold
enough for our snow jackets.

Towering trees!

After our walk we stopped in at a very cosy diner for a late lunch and I had my first chowder (turkey and vegetable) and reflected on how nice the American dining experience can be. They seem to have a lot of these kind of places around – where the comfort of an English pub is combined with the quality of food you’d get in a good restaurant but you can sit at the bar or in one of the many booths. Sitting at a table with chairs is always an inferior experience to sitting in a booth – and for people eating by themselves a bar seat is superior. It’s a real shame we just don’t have anything like this at home. Plus they facilitate the consumption of cocktails with breakfast, which can’t be a bad thing.

During our driving on this day we were passing some lovely scenery and drove around a bend to see a cyote walking along the side of the road. We passed it so quickly that we barely had time to register while it was still in sight. Robert said that he’s never seen one by the side of the road before. Our animal-spotting luck from Africa continues, apparently.

Our second day excursion with Robert was a drive south towards Santa Cruz and another forest where we saw some even larger trees and walked through a forest famous for banana slugs. Apparently these slugs are quite long and neon yellow but we didn’t see any.

Robert and Luke in a redwood trunk. The tree was still alive.

The forest was very beautiful though, and so was the drive to Santa Cruz. We managed to get to the beach just in time for sunset and a quick look through the rock pools. The sky was streaked with light clouds that turned orange and pink in the fading light. We spotted dozens of large and small anemones in the pools and watched the waves crash against the rocks.

Santa Cruz tide pools.

On the days when Robert dragged himself to work Luke and I went into San Francisco. A relatively fast bus ride (although a little expensive at $4.20 each) across the bridge and then we used Uber cars to get around. Uber is a business whereby you use their website to book and track cars who come and pick you up. You enter your credit card details once and then the fare is calculated by the minute and then deducted from your card so there’s no need to carry cash. The drivers use their own, unmarked cars and work whenever they want. Taxi drivers aren’t too impressed with this new system and Uber drivers operate in something of a grey area legally. We found them all very prompt and friendly – it’ll be interesting to see if this takes off in Australia.

In San Fran we walked around the northern end of the city, checking out views of the bridge. We walked up Haight Street which was, as promised, full of hippies. There were some great clothing stores – and definitely the best steam punk clothing store I’ve seen in the US. We saw some Creatura clothing (an Australian label) and a lot of clothes that wouldn’t be out of place at Rainbow Serpent Festival. It was nowhere near as good as Camden Markets in London – though the prices were better.

This shop had every kind of tie dye you could imagine. No photos allowed inside, unfortunately.

One of the nicest things about San Francisco is the architecture. The houses are mostly weatherboard and many are painted in a very detailed fashion. They look almost like wedding cakes.

These houses are known as ‘painted ladies’.

A corner in Haight-Ashbury.

Luke and I agreed that we hadn’t really seen everything San Francisco had to offer, but that just means more to see next time!

Zanzibar, continued.

Another ‘copy and paste’ post from my notes, hopefully WordPress won’t helpfully spellcheck so many words this time. Also apologies for the photo quality. In order to upload more than one and hour I’ve made them very low resolution.

Messing around on the beach.

Zanzibar, Day 5.

I shall stop complaining about our accommodation because there are certainly good things about it. The deck has a great view and comfy chairs, our rooms open onto sand and it’s mostly very peaceful and quiet, despite the fact that there’s a big resort being built next door. No heavy machinery – one of the benefits of developing countries. You can feel the serenity! And no screams, as yet, from bare-headed, unharnessed workmen falling from un-scaffolded roofs.

I managed to take a photo of breakfast this morning as I was not so ravenously hungry. So here’s a photo of pretty much exactly what’s on the table each day.

I’m thoroughly sick of paw paw now >.<

In all fairness, it tastes better than it looks as the crepes are quite good, particularly with jam. Just a shame the whole thing is cold before it gets to us.

Kat, Lucas and Luke at breakfast.

I’d set aside Sunday as wiffy day (that’s how they pronounce ‘wifi’ here) so after breakfast Luke and I walked up the beach and tried a couple of hotels. Strangely the reception of the first hotel was better when we accessed it from the second hotel. I paid $1 for the first hotel’s access then we went to the second place and asked if we could use the wireless.

“Sure, it’s free”.

“Great!” we replied. “What’s the password?”

“Ten dollar,” said the manager.

“Ten dollars? That’s a lot for internet access,”

“Password is ten dollar,”

“You said wifi was free?”

“Password is ‘ten dollar'” he said, writing it down.

“Ahh, the password is ‘ten dollar’?”

“Yes!”

How delightfully obfuscatory and completely African.

We went back up to our cabins and told the gang we had found free wifi so everyone went down for lunch with their phones and devices. Lunch took the standard decade to appear and wasn’t quite what most people had ordered. Still, it was filling and quite tasty and the chips were awful. Pretty much what we’d come to expect. We sat around for a while reading and waiting for the tide to go down so we could get back down the beach.

Giant postcard!

Currently I’m in the middle of 3 books, none of which are very good. 2000 Leagues Under the Sea started off ok but the technical bits are dull, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (which I’ve been meaning to read for ages) is woeful and could’ve been written by a teenager, and another one about a witch… it’s so bad I can’t even recall the title. It’s the sad thing about fantasy and sic fi – there’s probably 10 dreadful books for every good one in the genre and trying new authors is fraught with disappointment. The day’s best reading, in fact, was an email from Luke mum, Lea. She always writes very lovely emails to us and says the nicest things. So thanks Lea!

We headed up to the other end of the beach for dinner that evening but couldn’t find Teddy’s Bar. We kept walking and walking and eventually found quite a lovely bar and restaurant and we sat at a table on the sand and had cocktails and pizzas. I fed some bits to a dog that sat next to us the whole time and it followed us back to the hotel. The moon was so bright we had noticeable moon shadows as we walked back.

Zanzibar, day 6.

Our last full day at Jaribu before we join the tour tomorrow. Breakfast was a more meagre affair than previously – a small chunk of banana, no jam, half a piece of untoasted bread. We theorised that either they’d slacked off (even further) because we’d paid the day before or they were trying to make us lose weight.

Luke has been complaining that his hair is getting too long so, after much hesitation, I had a go at cutting it after breakfast. I left the top but shortened the sides and, miraculously, he thought it was fine. I was bit afraid that no matter what I did he wouldn’t like it since he nearly always comes back from the hairdresser complaining about what they’ve done.

The rest of today will consist of using the internet, washing hair and having a swim at the fancy resort up the road then packing everything before we meet the tour tomorrow on the other side of the island. Kat said that last time she went on one of these tours they had interest about once a week so hopefully we’ll manage that again. I’m up to 90 posts on the blog now, so I’m keen to make 100 before we finish the tour.

Here’s some photos from day 4 when we went to the Rock and then watched the sunset.

Everyone on the beach before catching the boat over to The Rock.

Kat on the balcony.

Lobster!

Kat and the moon. The full moon has meant very high and low tides.

Despite what it looks like, this guy isn’t actually burning his boat.

Nikki makes a friend.

Leigh watches the sunset.