Monday, 23 November 2009

The Honeymoon - Zanzibar

At last the final installment of the honeymoon stories - Zanzibar. It was lovely - but I wouldn't go again because the journey to get there was hellish.

Picture the scene - a Kenyan Airways flight, some unearthly hour post midnight, Mr Jones has the window seat and I have half of the one in the middle - the other half is being occupied by a huge Kenyan man who spent four hours using my hip bone as a arm rest and tutting every time I tried to wriggle free. I was unable to sleep thanks to the chap in the seat behind me - another large person who seemed to need to use my headrest and hair to hoist himself up in his chair every five minutes. Mr Jones felt sick.

I hoped for relief when we reached Nairobi airport - but know. Nairobia airport is twinned with hell. For three hours we sat in an airless room, packed with people, with nothing to drink and no loo. There were no announcements or boards to tell you when your flight would be leaving - just a man wandering about with a clipboard and a marker pen.

Mr Jones committed a cardinal sin according to the Mrs Jones book of holiday survival. He made eye contact with a very stroppy Irish girl and her Mancunian husband. We spent the next 30 minutes being partially involved in a domestic as she ranted about the fact that they were flying to Tanzania via Nairobi and Zanzibar because her dumbass husband had some imaginary issue with British Airways and had forced them to fly Kenyan the whole way. I smiled weakly in encouragement and scowled at Mr Jones for getting us involved.

Finally out "flight" was called and we made our way onto the tarmac towards what resembled an airfix kit waiting to transport us to Zanzibar. I very nearly kissed the runway when we landed. Next came the handing over of $100 -- $50 each for simply passing through the airport. We were informed that it would cost us another $30 to leave. You wouldn't mind if you thought the cash was going somewhere useful - but step outside the airport and it's all mud huts and wagons pulled by oxen.

The journey to the hotel took an hour. We drove through stone town and marvelled at the markets and the people in their brightly coloured clothes laughing and talking. The traffic was made up carts pulled by donkeys and oxen, people riding two or three on a push bike, weaving all over the road, and rickety old trucks and minibuses packed with people - and of course the obligatory tourist taxis.

We went through a gated compound off the dusty road, away for the mud huts and into complete luxury - which grated at our consciences a bit. But the tourist industry is providing young people on the island with great job opportunities - as the staff were always telling us. They wanted to learn English so they could work in hotels all over the world and travel and see lots of places, so we felt less guilty.

We spent the week lying on sun lounger, drinking cocktails, eating, gazing at the view and paddling in the sea. We went out on a boat one day to see the dolphins and the local fishman who took us out thought we were odd when we wouldn't get in the water and swim with them. Mr Jones and I don't swim - especially in dark choppy waters filled with wild animals - no matter how friendly.

I indulged in some spa treatments offered by a woman who became known at the Thai tortress for her punishing massages. I was walked on (yes with feet and her entired body weight), poked and scrubbed within an inch of my life - but despite the torture I was very relaxed.

The knots in my shoulders returned on the hellish journey home which involved another lengthy stretch in Nairobi airport. I very nearly kissed the air steward when we got on the BA flight to London and we were definitely pleased to be home.

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