Friday, August 8, 2014

A Visit to Changuu Island and Wedding Rehearsal at the Sea Cliff Resort

Breakfast today was hard boiled eggs and toast; this was my first encounter with white egg yolks

Nafisa later told me that, when she first moved to the United States at age 12, yellow egg yolks came as quite a shock.

After breakfast, we headed out to Prison Island (Changuu), formerly the site of a prison for escaped slaves, later of a quarantine hospital where arrivals to East Africa with infectious diseases were confined to wait out the course of their disease before they were admitted into the general population.  Today, it hosts a colony of 100 Aldabra giant tortoises; this, and snorkeling on the reefs around the island, were the reason for our trip

Ten of us went out in this boat

which took about a half hour to travel out to the island, which is in the Indian Ocean a bit more than three miles from Stone Town.


Here is a view looking back to Unguja, the main island of Zanzibar

 Here is a view of Unguja from Prison Island

First, we visited the tortoises: 

each has a number painted on its shell giving its age (do they repaint these every year, I wondered).  At 191, this was the eldest of the bunch

We were allowed to stroke their necks, to which the tortoises responded with evident pleasure: that is, they stretched out their necks for more.

The skin was rubbery like an elephant’s, but remarkably thin; I could easily feel the neck muscle underneath when I rubbed the skin

Then we went snorkeling on a reef close to the island

The snorkeling was OK, but not spectacular – there were some brightly colored yellow and red starfish, but none of the brightly colored corals and fish that we had seen when diving and snorkeling off Barbados several years before.  Hopefully, they views will be better if we manage to go diving off the north coast of the island after the wedding

After we got back from Prison Island, several of the guys in the family were hurried into a market lane near our accommodations to shop for canzus and kofias that we would need for the traditional wedding party the next day

Leading our search was Nafisa’s cousin Abdul, seen below with Sam and cousin Mohammed; several canzu are can be seen hanging behind them.  The search was successful – there will be photos of some of us in our outfits in the next blog post, about the traditional wedding party.

For the evening, the immediate family as well as the rest of the wedding party drive out into the country ("shamba" which, I was told, which can be a term with a very negative connotation), to visit the Sea Cliff Resort where the wedding ceremony and western-style wedding party would be held on Saturday.

We arrived just before dusk; especially in the late afternoon light, the location was absolutely lovely


We ran through a few dry runs of the wedding procession; by the time we were ready to head back to the hotel, it was very dark

Most of the rehearsal party drove back to Stone Town, but some of our most immediate family were so hungry that we could not wait to get back to Stone Town before eating.  The buffet dinner at Sea Cliff was a bit pricey but the food was widely varied and truly excellent.

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