Wednesday, April 26th – Friday, April 28th:
We slept in on Wednesday morning and found ourselves rushing to get ready, have our last rooftop breakfast, and pack up everything. We were late to checkout of the Mara Mara hotel in Zanzibar City but luckily we had some time to relax before our driver arrived to bring us to the airport. At the airport, we met a stressed-out Thai girl from Dubai who was trying to figure out where her flight was. She had been on holidays in Zanzibar with her boyfriend and he was on an earlier flight so he was waiting for her in Dar es Salaam to connect to Dubai. It was looking like all the delays with her flight were going to cause her to miss her connection home and she said there’s only one flight per day from Dar es Salaam to Dubai. She actually works for an airline herself, Emirates Airways, and she was probably thrown off by the differences over here- tiny airports, flimsy security if any, no one concerned about planes arriving late, etc. She was so sweet and I felt bad for her but it sounded like her boyfriend would make sure to wait for her if she didn’t arrive in time.
Our plane arrived on time and I wasn’t surprised to see another tiny twelve-seater. This time the plane was full- 12 passenger seats but we had 13 passengers and two babies! Luckily there was no co-pilot again so the 13th passenger got to sit up front with the pilot. I think Sher would’ve loved to see things from up front at the switchboard but a Canadian tourist was quick and she beat everyone to it, volunteering right away. Sher took a seat in the middle of the plane and I sat in the back with the two ladies that had their babies with them. Surprisingly the babies both didn’t cry for the entire flight. I kept looking up at poor Sher wedged in between two big guys and I felt fortunate to have a husband who offered right away to take the tighter spot. He knows how much I’ve been scared on these small planes and also how much I hate tight spaces. I was thinking during our flight about the slave chambers underground and also how slaves were often transported by behind chained up in dark boat bottoms, trapped there with no fresh air for long periods of time. When we arrived in Pemba, I was telling Sher how one of my worst nightmares would be to get trapped in a small underground space with no option to leave. Little did I know the surprise he had waiting for me in Pemba!
We flew over Pemba island, the second largest of the Zanzibar archipelago of islands, and it was a bigger island than I expected. Our driver was waiting at the airport and we started right away on our looong, bumpy drive to the resort. When we arrived at The Manta Resort, I was in awe. The restaurant/lounge area is huge with an ocean view, couches and books everywhere, stone steps to the beach, and friendly service (we’ve gotten used to that in Tanzania!). They took us to our room which is almost as big as my first house that I bought in Edmonton. There is an overhang directly over the bed with options of “cool”, “gentle”, “cold”, etc… localized gentle AC. I’ve never seen the concept before but it’s perfect for these humid temperatures! There are two sinks in the washroom and the windows face over a canopy of trees to the ocean. There is an attendant assigned to us and he tells us that laundry service, daily spa services, snacks by the pool, and food are included. We later have dinner by the ocean- three courses and everything is so fresh! When we get back to the room, the mosquito nets have been opened up around the bed and the shutters replaced. I remember that our driver on the way here kept talking about something unique to Pemba called a flying fox- we found out that they are giant bats and they like to congregate at night in the tree outside our room! Creepy!
Speaking of creepy things… remember that I told Sher about one of my worst nightmares? Well, he pointed from our window into the ocean at a little floating structure and told me it’s actually the only floating underwater ocean hotel room in the world… Ok…. and he booked us to stay there one night…. eek! I’m picturing us being dropped off at a submarine-type room where we’ll descend into the room and the staff would seal off the top until the next day. I said definitely no! But then he showed me their YouTube video and so I agreed to check it out tomorrow- Underwater Room Video There’s the room in the pic below:
Thursday- we slept in, had a delicious breakfast, and then went out to check out the underwater room. I feel a lot better about it since it’s more of a boathouse with three levels and lots of space to walk around above the room. I decided that if I was freaking out in the room at night, I could probably lie on the upstairs beds and watch the stars or sit on the main floor couches and enjoy the ocean sounds. I knew we would need Gravol since the waves were bouncing the little boathouse back and forth (choppy waters since it’s rainy season) but the room actually didn’t scare me as much as I had expected! And they don’t lock you in from the top, of course. I was imagining it as a completely different experience.
For our first spa service, I had a scalp massage and Sher tried aromatherapy massage. My scalp massage was interesting because I was sitting up and she kept pushing my oiled-up hair into my face. The room was hot and I wasn’t loving it. I’ll try something else tomorrow! Later by the pool, I found a book called The Good Girl about a kidnapping that doesn’t go as planned. I was absorbed by the book whenever we had some down time. The weather was more windy today but we both love it… it’s a nice break from the stifling heat of Zanzibar!
Friday- woke up early for snorkelling. It is grey and windy day again today and the water is choppy. I geared up then jumped in with Sher and the guide but I was right back in the boat within minutes! I guess I didn’t think that we would go so far out or that the day would feel so windy and bleak. I’m not sure what happened but I’m proving to be a big chicken on this trip so far! Sher loved it and they were in the water for a while… he even saw a jellyfish up close . I actually had fun on the boat just watching the ocean and I saw the Australian couple that we had met the previous night, hanging out at underwater room. Once they were settled, the guy jumped into the water right away but the girl looked hesitant. I know how she feels! We did another spa service just before lunch- pedicure for me (much needed and it was so relaxing!) and Sher had another massage. After our late lunch, we saw some diplomats from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia check in as well… there is quite a crowd with them! I finished my book in the afternoon and then we just lounged around. I’m still deciding about the underwater room but in the meantime, the staff here is so friendly that I’m just enjoying their company! Our room attendant, Haji, is teaching us more Swahili (or trying to) and he told us about thess bush babies that run around and look like fat squirrels. The staff had to spank the bush babies until they learned not to beg tourists for food or steal it from their plates. Now they just run around the ceiling and make squeaking sounds. Haji decided to scare me with a stuffed bush baby- he make me think it was real and put it right in my face while we were sitting! It’s actually cute once you realize it won’t bite.