We hopped the ferry from Dar es Salaam to the island of Zanzibar. Stone Town is the main city and is a very interesting place. The old town is built on a triangular peninsula of land on the western coast of the island. It consists of narrow alleys of houses, shops, and mosques. Heather said that it reminded her of old city Jerusalem.
The town was the center of trade on the East African coast between Asia and Africa before the European colonization of the mainland in the late 1800s. The main export was spices. Zanzibar was also integral in the slave trade--slaves were obtained from the mainland and traded with the Middle East. Because of the close ties with the Middle East, the island is approximately 99% Muslim.
Heather and I wandered through the streets of Stone Town and actually got lost going through all the winding little alleys. Apparently, it is part of the experience of Stone Town to get lost. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our hike around the town and were happy that we eventually found the hotel again!
That night we ate dinner at an Indian Restaurant. The waiter didn't know what quite to do with a group of 11. We attempted to order from the menu at which time he informed us that several items of food were not available. We all eventually found something that the restaurant had and waited and waited and waited. When the food came, we were all pretty disappointed with its quality. Nonetheless, we all ate what we could. By the time we had eaten and paid the bill, more than 3 and 1/2 hours had passed! In addition, the restaurant refused to give us change (an ongoing issue during the trip). Needless to say, they didn't get much of a tip.
I had an interesting experience while trying to buy a beach towel. I walked up to a street vendor and asked how much he was selling the towels for. In broken English he said the equivalent of about 50 cents. I started to pull out my wallet, but a guy came sprinting out of nowhere and said the price was $4.00. I told him that the first guy had said the towel was only 50 cents and began to walk away. As I walked away the price dropped to about $2.50, but I was frustrated and decided to walk away. I changed my mind a minute later and when I returned, the new price was $5.00. When I mentioned the $2.50 price he already offered me, he finally relented and I got my towel for $2.50.