December 13, 2012 GMT

First let me say that if anyone is planning a trip to Tanzania, do not pass up the opportunity to cross over to Zanzibar Island. And if you are riding a motorcycle do not take it with you unless you are saying for at least a month. It was a nightmare getting here with the bike. They did not explain when I made the deal that cargo, (motorcycle) could not go on the same boat as passengers. This made no sense at all till finally someone explained that until a year and a half ago you could but they had two ferries go down, drowning 1150 people because they would load cargo to max then stack in hundreds of people. So I took slow ferry, three hours, and got here at 1500. Bike ferry was to be here at 1800 but did not show till 2000 then we waited for another boat to finish loading and move out only to be told that we would need to come back in the morning to unload. So one and half days to get the bike here. Not looking forward to Wed. when I ship back.

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Ready to load

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Off loading

Now Zanzibar is part of Tanzania, or so says the book, but they forgot to tell the people of Zanzibar. They have their own government and rules. The paperwork to get the bike in was worse than anywhere I have been in Africa. All this to cross to an island that is in the same country, or so I thought. You also have to have an agent, now you probably have seen the “t” shirt that says “vegetarian is an old African word for poor hunter” well “agent” is and old African word for thief. They are always wanting you to pay for this or that “fee”

Zanzibar town was first settled by traders from Persia and became a powerful city state between the 12th and 15th century. Then was controlled for awhile by the Portuguese. Then in the mid 16th century Ottoman empire gained control as a trading post for goods coming into and out of Africa. For over a 1000 years this was the key trading port for east Africa. This included spices, slaves, timber and ivory. The old town, (Stone Town) has defiant Arabic influence. Plan is to spend a couple of days wandering the old town and markets. Today I did a tour of the island, about 250 k and I think I covered every road. Lots of small farms that seem unorganized in their production and distribution but it all works. I seen a couple of Christian Churches but mostly Islam.

The people of Zanzibar were friendly and helpful. It is a great place to visit, (without taking a moto). I met an interesting gentleman who was originally from Poland then got out in ‘82 and went to South Africa. He invited Martha and I to come to his retirement home on a island to the north in September when the weather is the best. It is a very tempting offer, to spend a couple of weeks on an island beach just kicking back. We talked about politics, religion and life and as always it is the people I meet along the way that are the best part of traveling.

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View out over the water from restaurant

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Loading off the beach

I was to ship back at 10 on Wed. But got a call on Tuesday about noon that I need to ship out today. So back to the hotel for quick pack and down to the dock where agent told me I need to go back down the beach to load. At the beach there was a line up of cars to get on the ferry, way more than would fit, so I worked my way out of the line and went around the buildings, between some tables, over a two foot bank of sand and on to the beach. Spun loose sand to the ferry ramp and I was on. (Always room for a moto). Agent was telling me I needed to go on people ferry but I went up and talked to the captain and he said I could ride with them but it would be 20 hours to get there. Told him I had everything I needed in the bike and he could sign me on as crew. So I moved into the bridge and had a great time with the crew and several of the shipping staff coming in to introduce themselfs and see the crazy white guy that was willing to ride the cargo ferry.

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At the cargo dock

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As we head away

Once the cars were loaded we went over to the dock and waited to load on some more cargo. It is amazing to watch the boats being loaded all by hand. Those dock workers earn every cent they get. Sacks of sugar, potatoes, refrigerators and everything else you can think of goes up on there back and into the ships. Once we were loaded we went out in the bay and anchored till about 2300 when we headed for Dar. The captain had said I could sleep in his cabin but I did not want to impose so laid down on a carpeted cabinet and sleep some.

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On the bridge for the slow trip back to Dar

This ferry, and several of the others, are old Chinese ferries. Now just imagine what kind of shape the are in when the Chinese get ride of them and there does not seem to be to much maintenance, if it breaks, oh well we did not need that anyhow. Due to the history of these ferries I sent Ryan an email from my phone as to where I was so if I did not make it to the other side they would know where to toss some flowers.

We docked on the other side about 530 and the captain gave me the papers I would need and said the unloading would be about 700. The way they slung the cars and trucks off of here was just plain scarey, I can’t think they don’t drop some. But all went well and then we plucked the moto of and away I went. At the port gate they did not know what to do with me as I did not have an agent there to pluck me for more money. But I showed them all the papers and the Carnet so they let me pass. And the great Zanzibar Adventure came to an end.

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Off loading a car, only a padded bar under front and back

Posted by Robert Thode at December 13, 2012 06:19 PM GMT

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