Before we go…

We aren’t leaving Tanzania just yet. Sometimes you have to visit a place just because the name beckons. You can’t deny the allure of Timbuktu, Samarkand, Rapanui. That’s why we’re heading for Zanzibar.

It’s Jack’s birthday. Two years ago he celebrated by having knee replacement surgery. We’re pretty sure this is going to be better.

We took our last photo of Mount Kilimanjaro, boarded a small plane and flew the 250-ish miles to Stone Town. We were sad to be leaving the game parks, but eager for a new destination.

We made no plans beyond booking a hotel near the sea for a few days with the understanding that if we felt the need to go further afield, we’d move on later in the week..

Our style of travel has evolved over the years. We no longer do much planning. We like to just show up and figure it out when we get there. I did look up “Top 10 Things to Do in Zanzibar.” Maybe later.

Stone Town in Zanzibar is one of those cultural crossroads, a UNESCO World Heritage site that commemorates the ancient Swahili village that became a trading post for Chinese, Arab, Asian, Indian and European merchants. Zanzibar is called the Spice Island, although it’s also known for trade in ivory and even more so, enslaved people.

The people, architecture and cuisine reflect that history. Jack and I love this kind of place, where the mix of influences is right there in front of you, in the faces, the buildings, the restaurant menus. Just wandering the narrow streets on our own without a guidebook is enjoyable.

Stone Town has a more recent claim to fame as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. We skipped the museum but I did take a photo, right before two guys reminded us that Stone Town still has one foot firmly in the past.

New or restored buildings share space with old colonial era ones that the town refuses to give up on.

We dined at local eateries where we got friendly advice on what to order.

In the late afternoons we walked to the beach. I think barring the plastic buckets and jugs in the foreground, not much has changed here in centuries.

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