Avaes Mohammad

Zanzibar: SKETCHES OF ZANZIBAR 1 (200509)

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2009 at 12:39 pm


[A two hour ferry ride across the ocean to get from Dar-es-Salaam to Zanzibar. The island comes into view: It’s stunning. A green gem, sat with majesty upon sapphire blue water. It’s coast, a wonder of Arabesque palaces and glorious architecture. Palm trees decorate this world of a thousand and one legends.]

Taxi Driver: Salaama. Welcome Zanzibar! How are you sir, good journey?

Avaes: Er…yeah thanks.

Taxi Driver [showing a photo ID card]:

Sir, look I am official taxi driver and guide of Zanzibar and I am here to take you to hotel in safety.

Avaes: Nah…thanks though but I’m gonna walk.

Taxi Driver: Look sir…let me tell you something…as soon as you step out there you’ll be jumped on…there’s many of them…if you come with me I can take you through safely.

Avaes: I’m alright man.

Taxi Driver: [whispers] Go then…see what happens.

Avaes: What was that man? What’d you say?

Taxi Driver: Nothing.

Big Papasi: Welcome Zanzibar!!…You don’t need taxi!…Stone Town is very small my friend you can walk everywhere…now let me show you lovely hotel…It’s my friends and I can get you very good price my friend. Two minutes from here only…come with me!

Avaes: I’m alright mate…I reckon I know where I’m goin’.

Big Papasi: Where?

Avaes: To a hotel.

Big Papasi: Which one?

Avaes: Pyramid.

Big Papasi: Pyramid? Closed! Low season my friend…many hotel closed…come with me…I’ll get you good price.

Avaes: Mate, I’ll check it out myself first…if it’s shut, then I’ll come find you.

[Pili, a girl from the ferry who I spoke to a little while has been stood waiting. She starts walking alongside me.]

Thin Papasi: Raffiqui, where you want to go? I’ll take!

Avaes: I’m okay.

Old Papasi: Stone Town very narrow narrow! Bendy bendy! I’ll take.

Avaes: I’m okay.

Old Papasi: Hakuna Matata. Welcome Zanzibar.

Young Papasi: Raffiqui my friend! I’ll take you…Pyramid yes? Follow me…

Avaes: Nah mate…I’m okay.

Stoned Papasi: You want good hotel Raffiqui, I’ll show you.

In front of me and won’t get out of my way Papasi:

Raffiqui, friend….Welcome Zanzibar…you want tour? Spice tour, prison island tour, dolphin tour, you like dolphin Raffiqui? Raffiqui, you like dolphin?

Patched eye Papasi:

[whispers] hash? Weed?….anything? What’s your interest?

[I dodge, swerve and offend my way through the crowd of Papasi: The local name for hawkers/touts. It means blood sucking ticks. One is walking far enough not to be following but close enough to shout instructions to my hotel, thereby being able to claim the commission he’ll be due when I check in. Once I’ve walked away from the Papasi swarm, I notice Pili is still at my side.]

Avaes: Where are you going?

[She just smiles.]

Avaes: Where you goin’?

[She smiles again]

Avaes: You goin’ home?

Pili Yes.

Avaes: Where’s home? Where you going?

Pili: Bus.

Avaes: You going Bus Station?

Pili: Yes. Bus station.

[We arrive at hotel]

Young Papasi: Sir, Pyramid Hotel sir. I live here…just here in this area…you need stone town tour, dolphin tour, prison island tour, snorkelling, diving, spice tour, island tour, cultural tour, anything!…let me know sir…you want? Shall I come tomorrow? Or even later? Shall I come?

Avaes: No.

[After seeing the room, I walk down the stairs to check in. The girl is stood at reception. As flattering as it is to think, I’m sure that in reality even I’m not irresistible enough for this to be okay.]

Avaes: Okay. Well…you’ve gotta get your bus yeah? See you later…[beat]…bye!


Pili: Bye…Welcome Zanzibar!


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