Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Adventures at Stone Town and Prison Island

So this appeared on my FB today and is a way of looking at things that I generally apply to my life. And while often this leads to awesome adventures (the beach ride in Costa Rica for one, my entire Australia trip for another ;) it does, occasionally, backfire.

Today was one of those backfires as our private tour ended up being neither private - 2 other couples - nor a tour :(. Our “guide” got us to the locations after a very long drive with lots of stopping and exchanging money for no apparent reason. But he appeared to know nothing about the locations and certainly wasn’t about to give a tour. His English was also extremely limited. At the prison, another guide took pity on us so we got a tiny bit of info there; I would’ve liked to have just tagged along for the rest of his tour, but it wasn’t actually in English. Lol he legit gave a quick English spiel cause he felt bad for us guideless folk...

Other than that, the prison was just a courtyard, and with no guide and no signage, we were left with no real way to take anything meaningful from it.

If you’re going to be sent to prison, it may as well be one with amazing weather and incredible views. —

Next up was the tortoise sanctuary, which was as you’d expect w some very large tortoises. Their necks are remarkably snake-like, and I found myself more creeped out than I should be by something that moves at a glacial pace. Lol that and for some reason I kept having flashbacks to The Neverending Story - was there a wise old tortoise in that? Cause I definitely haven’t seen it in more than 20 years so it’s a pretty random memory.

We managed to lose our guide and one other couple in there that meant us and the 2nd couple got to spend a significant amount of time just standing waiting. At least the weather was good - or would’ve been had we been on a beach.

We eventually made it back to the mainland for our tour of Stone Town. Thankfully our “guide” found us a proper tour guide for this one and the tour itself was quite good. The sultan’s palace, which I was moderately curious about, was under construction so we unfortunately didn’t get to visit :(

We wandered around town with a variety of explanations and of course hit up the local tourist market. Lunch was in a local establishment — by that I mean one frequented at least in part by locals. It was insane, crazy packed, and we had no idea how to order (waiters weave through asking people what they want). In the end though the food was good, copious, and cheap :). Chris and I figure with exchange rate together our meal was well under $10; his very impressive smoothie alone would’ve cost nearly that at home.

After lunch we hit up the market, which gave me a new appreciation for grocery stores ;). But it did serve to give some insight into how people here live. The fish market was something straight out of a history text. That odour, mingled with the not insignificant BO of many of the people crowded in there, the claustrophobic environment, and the constant annoyance of flies, is not something I’ll soon forget.

The decision to skip the meat market was unanimous lol. The spice market which followed was definitely more appealing. It was hot and crowded though so we were unimpressed when we got back to find our driver had left and was 45 mins away *sigh*. At least it was nice weather - we got ice cream and chilled in a park till the driver and his non air conditioned van deigned to appear.  Drive home was equally long and unpleasant — and we needed to stop for gas again.  Sheesh.  Oh well -- we made it in one piece.

Overall right on the bottom end of the scale of tourist experiences I’ve had; on the plus side, nothing truly tragic, dangerous, or scary happened so I guess we’re still calling that a win. Things could def have been way worse. Will be booking through the hotel for the next one though.

Completely unrelated plus — my hearing has been coming back all day and is almost entirely back to normal. Also, dinner at the hotel was lovely, 2nd floor balcony under a moonlit sky, overlooking the beach. Very civilized :).

AND - I got my touristing done :). Those of you who know me well enough to have been in my home, know of my unfortunate and so very out of character habit of collecting horribly tacky tourist photo frames from everywhere I go :). Sadly I didn’t start this till my “adult” tourism, so am missing a few countries from my uni adventures, but otherwise yeah. It’s a thing. And it is awesome. And my husband tolerates it ;). If there is ever any glitter to be found in my house, that is where you will find it. That being said, I was really struggling to find a frame to meet my requirements here, so was quite pleased to stumble upon one tonight. Win!

Looking into snorkeling tomorrow. Ears still not right so not convinced I should dive, but no risk w snorkelling. Dive shops all closed when we got home, but we were given directions to a reputable one from the front desk and the sign in their window says they have a trip both tomorrow and Sat. So we shall see :)


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