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Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Dar Es Salaam

TANZANIA | Monday, 5 January 2015 | Views [379]

We named this lemur

We named this lemur "Melanie"

After Maputo, Mozambique, we steamed northeast for two days and landed at the extreme northern end of Madagascar, on the island of Nosy Be.  They don’t have a dock that can support a cruise ship, so this was one of several ports where we used ship’s tenders to get ashore.  (We actually launch the ship’s lifeboats as tenders, which is great practice for the crew, great opportunity to check out the equipment, and real confidence-booster for the guests on board.)

Madagascar’s infrastructure isn’t as devastated as Mozambique’s, but it’s still quite a bit behind the much more modern South Africa.  The entire area is covered with a dense green growth of tropical trees, shrubs and grasses.  Mango trees with hanging fruits are everywhere, as are banana plants.  We toured a small botanical garden, saw lemurs, chameleons, giant tortoises, and cute six-day-old baby crocodiles.  We toured a factory where flower petals are distilled to make perfume oils, were treated to some dancing and singing by the local ladies’ association, and had more opportunities to shop for souvenirs.

That evening, we headed back north toward the African mainland, and docked next morning on the island of Zanzibar.  Zanzibar was originally a Portuguese colony, replaced by the Sultan of Oman in 1698.  Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890, and in 1963 a bloody revolution resulted in Arabs fleeing to India en masse, and Zanzibar joined with mainland Tanganyika, to form Tanzania.  (By the way, one of the emigrant Arabs changed his name to Freddy Mercury when he got to India with his family as an 18-year-old.)  Anyway, Zanzibar was quite the slave-trading center in its heyday, first started by the Portuguese but greatly expanded by a succession of Omani sultans. 

Zanzibar is better off than Madagascar or Mozambique, although its best days of European and Arabic colonialism are behind them.  There are lots of people everywhere in Zanzibar, and we really enjoyed a walking tour of the town—sultan’s former palace, elbow-to-elbow marketplace, crowded streets, and a fish market with fresh swordfish and marlin.

After Zanzibar, we crossed back over to mainland Tanzania, to the bustling city of Dar Es Salaam, founded by the Sultan of Zanzibar in the 19th century, and the modern-day center of Tanzanian commerce.  We decided to take it easy this day, so we took a small bus to a 5-star resort on the north shore, and spent the day on beach chairs, sipping drinks, and lolling in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Today, we are headed due east across the Indian Ocean toward the Seychelles.  We’ve got a brisk wind coming out of the northeast, so things are pretty bouncy on the ship.  Interferes with my nap…



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