How can you top off a trip a like this? With diving in Zanzibar and Pemba, of course. After safari we flew to Zanzibar and got a room in the middle of the maze they call Stone Town. The buildings are all old stone with beautiful wooden doors but the streets run all different directions at crazy angles and everything looks kinda the same so it is a recipe for getting lost. We did a few dives in Zanzibar and walked around looking at the old buildings and stuff but everyone told us: for good diving you’ve got to go to Pemba. They were right. We took a crazy small 6-seater airplane to Pemba and not only was the diving amazing but the people were so nice. Eddie, one of the guys who works at the dive shop invited us to his house for dinner; Sharuk, a retired school teacher who owned the guest house we stayed in, was kind and helpful; and kids played with us in the street and helped me learn to count in Swahili. It was a beautiful relaxed place.
It was Ramadan so we had to buy food for breakfast and lunch and eat it in our room but that wasn’t so bad. There is also no beer on Pemba except in the one big resort, but we just had a good time diving and relaxing and didn’t even miss it.
In town I saw a store selling beautiful scarves and stopped to look at them. Suddenly, the shop was filled with women looking at scarves. I think they were curious to see what the white woman would buy. Turns out, I ended up buying a beautiful black scarf that one of the other women had her eye on and she was upset with me for buying it! Funny.
Pemba is also home to the ‘Pemba flying fox’ which is a large fruit-eating bat. We could see them hanging out in the trees in daylight hours, they just looked like a bunch of large dead leaves. In the evening when they would get active it was really amazing.
Pemba was actually closed to foreigners until around 1985. The only white people to visit during that time were medical personnel with the Red Cross, so in the more isolated villages some of the people still harbor a distrust of white people, thinking you might give them a shot or force them to take some bad-tasting medicine.
Tags: Into Africa