Monday, May 1st:
I’m so sad to leave our little family at the Manta Resort! I wish I could rate them higher than 5 stars for the service alone. Everyone is so friendly, helpful, and eager for guests to enjoy their experience. Sure, there are a lot of giant flying ants, creepy centipedes, and mosquitoes while you are trying to eat… and while packing up this morning, I found droppings near the washroom! Haha I think a bush baby snuck in and left us a goodbye souvenir. But it’s a gorgeous secluded resort and the staff make you forget about a few insects.
After the long drive across the island to the airport, there’s another little surprise waiting for us… an even smaller airplane than all the others we’ve seen on this trip! I didn’t think commercial flights could get this small! So this plane is a four passenger one… but with five of us, a passenger has to sit up front in the missing co-pilot’s seat again. I’m starting to get used to the tiny planes and shaky flights but I always break into a bit of a panicked sweat as we are descending into our bumpy landing. We all climb off about half an hour later, pale and with knees of jelly. Back in Zanzibar! We have about three hours (and 97k shillings, about $45 USD) until our connecting flight to Mombasa, Kenya. Sher convinces me that we should head into town to kill the time and do some shopping.
Eventually we bargain a return fare with a cab driver and he takes us shopping (that part took all of 10 minutes) so with time and money to spare, we head back to Lukeman’s for delicious Indoafrican cuisine and people watching (it’s a busy place!). We are down to 5000 TZ shillings at this point after a carefully priced out lunch, which is about $2 USD. Cutting it close! Back at the airport, Sher has to use that last 5000 to pay an “ecofee” (likely a bribe, they originally asked for 20k!) to enter the airport with our souvenir seashells that we bought at the fish market in Dar es Salaam. I had a feeling we’d eventually get into trouble with the shells but everyone assured me that it was fine. Hmmm…. well now we have no shillings left so hopefully there’s no more issues before we leave Tanzania! We check in for our flight…. both of our names are COMPLETLY wrong on the booking reservation that Manta helped us to make for the flights. There were no issues with it at the Pemba airport and even here in Zanzibar, the check-in desk employee just has a laugh about it when I explain while handing her our passports. I wish everyone had been this understanding when there was a mistake with my name last summer that had me stuck in La Guardia airport for hours! They threatened to make me buy a new flight to Lisbon or send me home… they need a little bit of the African “hakuna matata” attitude at United Airlines sometimes! It was hell being stuck in that crappy airport and missing all my flights, fighting to not pay for my ticket again. But here in Tanzania, people are understanding and airport security is even friendly. They apologize everytime they open up your bags and even help you to repack! Too funny. Sher purchases yet another book at the airport gift shop, even though he hasn’t finished the other two that he has bought so far on this trip. And this one is the thickest! But it is the autobiography of Nelson Mandela so it is very relevant to where we are going and the story of South Africa… I can’t really say anything. A friendly Indian man comes up to Sher while we are waiting and tells him that he looks exactly like the singer, Arjit Singh. We google him and I kind of agree!
We arrive in Mombasa in the late afternoon and right away I notice that Kenya is a lot less conservative than Tanzania. Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam are predominantly Muslim so the coastal regions are the most conservative in dress, but even in Mbeya and Matema beach I rarely saw locals exposing a lot of skin. In Zanzibar one morning, I only counted ten or so ladies that appeared to be locals who were not wearing hijab. But in the cab ride to our hostel in Mombasa, I am noticing a lot of ladies who seem to be locals and are wearing short dresses, sleeveless, etc.
Check in to Tulia Hostel… Sher is in heaven! He loves the social aspect of hostels. I’m ok with hostels if they are clean and (call me a diva) if I can have a private washroom. Clean washrooms are important to me! There is some confusion with the booking and the manager explains that even though we do get a private room, the online ad is mistaken and there is no private washroom for us. It’s fine, I tell Sher. Mainly because he’s got so much planning to do on this trip and he’s just so happy here. The manager feels bad and offers us a free breakfast in the morning. Our room here is actually pretty cool… it’s an airy hut on the rooftop with a closed off area for just us that has a swing facing down into the courtyard of the whole hostel. The funny thing is, when we call Sher’s dad later in the evening and Sher mentions that we have a shared washroom, he is the most concerned for me! I love it. Sher’s dad tells us that ladies need to have things like a private washroom and clean space, etc…. he’s got my back! Haha. Instead of heading out, we hang out in the courtyard and have masala chips while Sher watches football (for Canadian readers, we ate spicy fries and watched soccer). Sher tells me that he is so much happier here because he was “getting depressed and anxious” at Manta. Well, don’t ever take this guy to Hawaii! He may have a nervous breakdown!! Hehe