The legendary spice island is home to both picture-perfect white sand beaches and Stone Town, where you're transported back a few centuries to narrow alleys and tiny shops, incredible historic wooden doors, old window shutters and beautiful crumbling buildings. It reminded me of Morocco but with a laid-back tropical vibe.
I also thought it was neat that when you arrive on the boat from Dar es Salaam, you get papers from the "Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar." They are technically a part of Tanzania, but culturally, it feels quite different. Oh, and they really do consider themselves to be a separate entity-- when you come from Tanzania, you have to bring your passport, and you get stamped coming and going as if you were entering a new country.
There is a dreamy shade of blue somewhere between sky blue and periwinkle I now call Zanzibar blue because you see it on many of the window shutters, doors and buildings.
It's a photographer's dream, with stunning shots around every corner. Some images from my first glimpse of the island that I'll never forget: a man riding a bicycle with a little monkey holding onto the handlebars in front of him. An old grey building with a row of tiny Zanzibar blue window shutters and a teenage girl in a black veil leaning out, talking on her cell phone. A Maasai warrior browsing through postcards. The bright blue of the Indian Ocean. And the intricately carved wooden doors that are often older than the (really old) buildings they're standing in.
I could go on and on. One of my favorite images was the bright sun causing the dhows to look as if they were sailing on liquid light.
And how, right around sunset, boys would run from the Forodhani Gardens and dive and somersault into the water.
They'd go on, with onlookers clapping and laughing, until the cops came, and then the evening would quiet and slow down, mellowing with the fading light.
As the sky grew darker, kerosene lamps of the night market would light up one by one until each food stall was glowing.
Shopping in Zanzibar was also a treat. It felt like you were digging through ancient treasure, which, often, you actually were.
Zanzibar was just oozing with beauty and life everywhere I looked. As I'm still catching up, though, I'll just let the rest of the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!
(Those are soccer scores on the blackboards behind the girls.)