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We are in Epsom with my folks, a last stop before coming back home... tomorrow!
To recap the last few days...
We spent another night at the Chavda. I got Dena upstairs in time to catch the included breakfast, but the breakfast was disappointing (as it seems to be in a number of small hotels around here)... buns, some fruit, and the pineapple was unripe. I'd suggest going out for breakfast.
We then went to the Mbweni Ruins Hotel as a last little bit of luxury on Zanzibar. It's got the ruins of a mission that took in freed slave girls once upon a time, and the rest of the grounds has a bit of beach and some rather nice botanical gardens, which had silver palms, screwpines, tamarind trees, pomegranate trees and all sorts of other stuff, with more plantings in the works.
The room itself was the slightly pricy Baobab suite (#5), which had a nice bed, a good cold fridge (enjoyed the water we put in there), and a balcony that you could entertain on... it was about as big as the suite, and essentially hidden from all the other guest rooms.
We took some time to 'trailer park' up the place: we did our laundry in the bathtub, stomping on it wine-maker style, and spread our laundry all over the nice balcony to dry.
It's full board there, so we had a lovely lunch, dinner and breakfast. The staff, especially in the restaurant, were quite nice. There are nice views of the ocean, but you can't really go down to swim (they have a swimming pool by the ocean instead), since the beach leads onto tidal pools and shallow biologically active areas nearby spiky mangrove (?) trees (they had nasty spikes coming up from their roots).
From there, the next day, we went and braved the Zanzibar ferries on our own on the way back, fending off porters and navigating the rather confusing Zanzibar side of the port.
The ferry near noon was nice, but this time, the trip was nauseating - there were a lot of ocean swells, and pretty much everyone was feeling it. There was an odd homegrown-looking African movie on, "Mr. Bone", which was slapstick and funny, but really gross in parts... not what you need when you're feeling green.
At the other side, we fended off the porters again, but a call of "taxi" piqued our interest. Don't accept calls of taxis in this area - we regretted it... well, not immediately, but he tried to "help" with the bags by grabbing onto the handle of the duffle bag as well (as I learned later, to try and whine about having worked so hard with the luggage and demanding a fee for being a porter), raced us away from Dena (I had to stop us, because he wasn't even checking).
Negotiated 10,000 TSh for the trip, which was a very short trip. There, the hustler worked the airport transfer angle. We took his number, but couldn't promise the business (I'd asked for an airport transfer at the hotel, but hadn't gotten a response), and the whining and implications of $150 transfer fees from the hotel, on top of him motioning Dena to shut up, sealed the coffin on further business. The driver, who seemed a better sort, did nothing to intervene, which was too bad... I wonder what their business relationship with one another was.
Dropped us off at the Kilimanjaro Kempinski, and I gave over 10,000 and a small 1,000 tip, but he had the audacity to sit there and angrily demand more. After dropping my jaw in disbelief, he whined, "You're rich, we're poor"... just... an asinine creep. We walked away, and there was nothing he could do, but we didn't feel all that safe going out of the hotel area (we weren't far enough away from the hustler's home base, and better safe than sorry), so we resigned ourselves to enjoying the hotel and not really exploring Dar es Salaam at all.
It's a very business-oriented hotel, the Kili, so there were a few fewer amenities to non-business travellers like ourselves (the business centre, where the only internet access was, was a bit forboding), but the food was excellent (we hadn't eaten since breakfast, and we were really, really hungry after the nausea wore off in the late, late afternoon), the breakfast the next day was utterly wonderful (certainly worthy of any big hotel, like the Marriott in Hong Kong). The room was nice, and interestingly-designed (I have pictures), and the staff, while initially stand-offish, was quite nice. They really are bemused by wazungu like me trying to speak Swahili here.
The next day, we were off to the airport, which was a smaller place than I had been expecting. It was a bit of a huddle (instead of a queue) to get into the place, and we found out that, due to the terrorist activities in Heathrow, we had to check in our carry-on luggage. There went my amusements (and some valuables, by necessity). It was a pretty odd sensation - Dena got to keep her messenger bag; that was it.
We managed to actually get some stamps and send the last of the postcards (the post office was too close to the harbour in Dar for us to feel safe after Mr. Creepy) at the airport, and then it was off to Dubai, our samosas hanging out of our mouths as we joined the last security line.
(Ever since the first day of food poisoning, we decided not to eat the food on the plane on Emirates :) )
Dubai was abuzz through midnight - you wouldn't even know it was midnight, really, as all the shops (well, most) were staffed, bright and open. Dazed and tired, we poked around to use up the time between the flights.
We got at last to Heathrow, got through in relatively short order (I imagine getting on the planes on Saturday will be a different story).
Been enjoying the past few days here with my folks, and it just feels really odd, but nice, getting back to the 'Western world'.
Adam: welcome to the blog! I must spend a short amount of time adding some code, or figuring out a setting, for the home "All Blog" page to maybe prepend which one of us is posting, since the electronics reviews confused my sister to pieces already :) See you soon, too.
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