Saturday, March 29, 2008

More Photos of Zanzibar, Tanzania (March 24-27, 2008)

Palm trees and blue sky over the Indian Ocean
Zanzibar's lovely beaches - turquoise water and soft white sand
A dhow at sunset
A boy climbs a coconut tree
Girls smile for the camera

Zanzibar Faces, Tanzania (March 24-27, 2008)

A friendly woman waits for customers
School girls line up outside of their classroom
A man in traditional dress sits in a Stone Town alley

Two boys, late for school, peek through the window at their classmates
A girl watches over her young sibling

Zanzibar Spices, Tanzania (March 24-27, 2008)

Vanilla beans
Cinnamon (note the cuts in the bark of the tree; when the bark dries, it rolls into the familiar cinnamon stick shape) Cloves

Zanzibar, Tanzania (March 24-27, 2008)

Situated in the warm Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar Island is the largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago - also known as the Spice Islands. The archipelago has a rich history dating back to the beginning of the first millenium, when settlers from mainland Africa arrived. By the 1st century, Arabic traders had established settlements, and by the 8th century, Shirazi traders from Persia had also staked a claim to the land.

Because of its convenient location, the islands became a bustling trade center between Africa, India, Asia and the Middle East. After centuries of Portuguese, Omani and British control, Zanzibar declared independence in the 1960s and joined with the mainland country of Tanganyika to form what is today called Tanzania.

Stone Town, the historic old town in Zanzibar's main port, is a fascinating jumble of Arabic, Indian and African people, cultures and architectural styles. The dark maze of narrow streets bustles with activity and echoes with the sounds of prayers and bicycle horns. It's impossible not to get lost amongst the winding alleyways filled with mosques, craft vendors, men sipping tea, women selling fruit, and children playing.

In contrast, Zanzibar's beaches are as tranquil as Stone Town is lively: warm turquoise water gently laps against white powdery sand dotted with shells. Tropical fish, dolphins and sea turtles swim off the coast of nearby islands, and dhows (traditional boats) glide across the water with sails billowing.

Boats gather near the port at Stone Town
Bicycling bread vendors prepare for business at the massive Stone Town market
One of the many beautiful, intricately carved doors that can be found throughout Stone Town
Blue and green shutters open onto a narrow Stone Town alley
Zanzibar was the center of the East African slave trade, and this cramped cell once held up to 50 slaves at a time waiting to be sold

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Scenes from the Road, Tanzania (March 22-23, 2008)

A bright green chameleon on the go
On the outskirts of Dar es Salaam
The road south from Dar es Salaam
Traffic jam, Tanzanian style
Palm trees at sunset

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scenes from the Road, Tanzania (March 22-23, 2008)

We spent the better part of two days driving from Lake Malawi over the border to Tanzania and east to Dar es Salaam. Both the scenery and the weather varied greatly over the two days, but all of it was beautiful:
Rice fields just over the Tanzanian border
Tea plantations as far as the eye can see Hillside farms with plenty of terraces
A cloudy mountain pass
A huge baobab tree on the side of the road. Legend has it that if you can fit your arms around the trunk of a baobab tree, you will have good fortune for life!

Scenes from the Road, Malawi (March 18-22, 2008)

A rubber tree plantation - note the small cup attached to the tree to collect the sap. In the streets near the plantation, boys sold handmade rubber balls that were very bouncy but also very stinky A woman sells bananas on the side of the road
The green hills of Malawi, with banana trees in the foreground
A boy waves from the window of his hut in this small hillside village
A beautiful roadside waterfall

Market Scenes, Malawi (March 21, 2008)

Markets are some of my favorite places to explore and take photos - they buzz with energy, and every corner brings new sights, sounds and smells. This market in Malawi had stalls for clothing, fabric, electronics, plastic buckets, couches, hardware, rope, burlap sacks, and an amazing (and sometimes quite pungent) assortment of food:
A view down one of the clothing and home products "aisles" of the market
A woman sells rice in the food section of the market
All sorts of beans and grains for sale
Eggs and oil for sale - I like how they package the oil in small plastic bags in addition to the full bottles.
Lots and lots of very smelly fish!

Photos of Craftsmen, Malawi (March 19-22, 2008)

Malawi is known for its beautiful handcarved wooden items, including intricately designed chairs, tables and home decorations. I passed countless roadside markets where artists proudly displayed their wares alongside their workshops:
A woodworker carves one side of a picture frame (see the photo below for an example of a finished frame)

Finished picture frames, along with bowls, boxes and carved animals

Another woodworker, carving an intricate chair back (see the photo below for an example of a finished chair) The artist, taking a seat on one of his creations
In addition to wooden items, Malawi markets also had lots of woven basket, mats and hats for sale

Lake Malawi, Malawi (March 18-22, 2008)

Lake Malawi is a massive (500+km long) lake that spans the eastern border of Malawi, separating it from Mozambique and Tanzania. The lake is the third largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world, and it's home to approximately 500 species of fish. As a result, it's a prime destination for both snorkeling and freshwater diving, as well as general beachside relaxing.

We spent four days along various sections of the lakeshore, and it was interesting to see how much the landscape changed as we traveled north - from wild and windswept, to sunny and semitropical, to jungly and mountainous. At times, it was easy to forget that we were on a lake: I never could see across to the other side, and the waves were actually larger than those in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar!
The beach is my favorite place to camp: BBQ and roasted marshmallows over a bonfire, and the sound of the waves to lull me to sleep Three boys enjoy a sunny stroll along the beach
A fisherman pulls in his catch at sunset
Green mountaintop views along the northwestern coast of Lake Malawi
Two boys pose for a photo on the beach