I needed to escape the madness. After my disastrous experience in Egypt, I was longing for a place free of stupidity and coercion. And I knew exactly where to go.
Next on my travel list was Tanzania. Tanzania was recommended to me by various people who escaped the Corona-1984 hysteria and propaganda scam humanity has been suffering from for 15 months now.
I have never been to a sub-Saharan country before, a country which resembles to me the “real Africa”. What do I mean with the “real Africa”? Well, the typical cliché, namely black people, jungle, and lots of wild animals.
I have travelled a lot during the past decades, but Africa was still missing on my list. Since I heard many good things about Tanzania and its famous island Zanzibar, I decided to visit these locations.
I have been missing the tropical climate. The last time I was in such an area was in Phuket in April of 2020. That was right before my “deportation” back to Germany.
I flew Emirates Airlines, first from Cairo to Dubai and then continuing from Dubai to Dar Es Salaam. The flight from Dubai to Tanzania was extremely smooth and the plane was almost empty, exactly how I like to fly.
Once I arrived in Tanzania, I had to pass through immigration which was easygoing as well. You apply for a so called “Emergency Visa” which is the visa on arrival. It did cost me USD 50 in cash and the entire application process took no longer than 20 minutes. I received my 90-day chop and entered the country.
Right away after my baggage claim and arrival in the arrival hall I was approached by many taxi drivers who don’t deserve the name because they are rather rip-offers, if you know what I mean.
They wanted to sell me rides from the airport to my hotel, an hour ride, for USD 40-50. From my previous travel experience I knew that you must be careful with taxi drivers especially at the airports. This is where they make big cash. Eventually I “threatened” one of the guys to order an Uber. Suddenly a “manager” showed up and I was able to negotiate the price down to 25 bucks. That was probably still too high, but I was tired of hanging around at the airport discussing things with people.
Dar Es Salaam is not a special city. I was not impressed at all of what I had seen during my first day and decided to take the ferry to Zanzibar immediately the next day.
I reached Stone Town and stayed for three nights at a hotel which is called “Spice Palace Hotel”. I absolutely want to recommend this hotel here. It is great! When you look at the service, they offer, you realise that they know how to cater to Western people and their standards. I am talking about clean rooms, good WIFI, nice breakfast, which was for free, a little gym, a roof top restaurant and elevator. I felt extremely comfortable there and booked again 3 nights on my return from Paje on the east coast.
What really bugged me in Stone Town though were the local folks, all male, who constantly tried to sell me something, be it t-shirts, boat trips, city tours or any other kind of souvenirs. Upon leaving my hotel I was not even able to walk 10 feet without being approached by strangers. That was a big thumbs down. I will talk about this aspect in a minute, so hang on.
A few days later I arrived in Paje.
Paje is a place on the east coast of Zanzibar. I do not consider it a city or town. It is rather a larger village in my opinion. The first day it was raining cats and dogs. I picked the best time for my retreat; it was monsoon season. On my first day I tried to go to the beach and needed to walk through some small alleys to reach the beach. But all these alleys were flooded completely making it impossible for me to pass through. Completely soaked, I gave up. Eventually after three days the rain stopped, and we had sunshine ever since even it is considered the rainy season.
I found a decent place to stay. The accommodation is called “New Jambo Bungalows”.
It suited my needs, and I negotiated a deal for USD 18 per night staying one full month. This of course was a low season price and I paid in cash.
The bungalows were simple. No TV, no fridge, now microwave or water boiler. They had hot water though to properly shower. On top of that you got a lot of mosquitos, and all beds are equipped with mosquito nets. But these nets really didn’t help because they were full of holes, so these little vampires could sneak through. Fortunately, there was a well-equipped pharmacy in the village where they sold mosquito repellent. Trust me, you need a lot of mosquito repellent while in Zanzibar.
New Jambo Bungalows offers a nice pool and even a gym which is apparently run by a Swedish guy. The equipment is state of the art! I was happy to swim and work out every day.
The second obstacle in my bungalow were the rats. I could not store any fruits openly. The rats would smell it instantly and go after it. These little bastards even ate my fish oil tablets which I left lying around the first night. Next morning when I wanted to take a tablet, I found half of them missing. The rats carefully picked them out from the sealed package. Crazy.
It was actually disgusting. I ended up storing my fresh fruits in my backpack. And to be on the safe side I stored this backpack in another bigger backpack (I own two). I wanted to make sure that no rat would be able to smell anything tempting.
I never forget the first time I hit the beach. The turquoise-colored water and white sandy beaches were absolutely amazing. I only saw that on postcards before. And yes, it looked like on the postcards but this time in real.
The beaches are all natural, long, and empty. If you like solitude, then this is the place to go. Paje is famous with the kite surfing community because of the wind.
But wait, you will be disturbed again by local folks who are trying to sell you something. This time I found it not so annoying as in Stone Town, but it happened. I understand that these people rely on tourism as their only income source. Tanzania, Zanzibar and Paje are extremely poor. It is a so called third world-country.
And it is not the fault of the people, but this is a topic for a different blog post. Therefore, I understand that they want and need to sell. I would most likely behave the same way if I would be in their position. I am just sharing my opinion though.
The big pros are definitely the untouched nature, beaches, friendly people (especially the kids), tropical weather, calmness, peacefulness and rural setting. Everything here reminded me of the Philippines, though the people are still poorer here.
There are no supermarkets, just a handful of mini marts which are exceptionally well equipped with imported items. You can find everything you need for an extended vacation. But here comes the downturn: most of these items are completely overpriced. It is partly a rip-off.
In the Philippines you at least have these “7-Eleven” stores where prices are fixed. That means a local street vendor will not sell his soap for a higher price than the 7-Eleven store, he can’t. That’s good, at least for the tourists. I am just saying. If I must pay five US Dollar for 400gr of Muesli, then I don’t know.
Anyway, there are always ups and downs. I was also seriously afraid to try their local food from the streets. Being a chef myself, I have had no hesitations when travelling any country, especially in Asia. But here, I was more careful. I just didn’t want to risk anything, so I stuck with instant noodles, muesli, fruits, gherkins, cookies and bread for a full month, believe it or not.
But trust me, as I am writing this, I am looking so much forward to visit my favorite Chinese restaurant in Stone Town tomorrow because today (June 1) is my last full day here in Paje.
Isn’t it strange that they forecasted rain for the next few days? It is raining now…
I also went to stay here because I wanted to test my limits. Is it really so cool to stay in a bungalow near the beach? Is it really so romantic? Well, if you can handle mosquitos, rats, and the many power outages then you are welcome. I learned, despite my extensive travelling around the world, that I, as a Western, guy still require a certain living standard and infrastructure. I am a healthy guy but noticed that there is no hospital here for example, I am quite sure though that there is a doctor in this village. Like I said, they have a pharmacy here which even sells codfish oil.
There is a bakeshop where they bake fantastically tasting baguettes, crispy and fresh. But if the power fails, so the oven fails and that means no baguette for this day.
It was a great experience here in Paje. I stayed the entire month only here. I did not move around. That was part of my retreat. Not many tourists were here. A few Germans mostly, some also long staying.
Come here and try it out for yourself. And before I forget to mention it: Here in Tanzania, you find freedom! There are no Covid-1984 restrictions, at least not inside the country.
Nobody wears a mask. Shops and restaurants are open. Here is a normal life, a life how it used to be before the dystopian nightmare was imposed on the people and which now exists in most parts of the world. It feels like travelling backwards in time, into a good time, a time of freedom and dignity. A time where you can breathe, a time where you can just be, undisturbed.
Live and let live.
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