See ya, Dar! We’re heading to Zanzibar! We were both looking forward to a vacation from our vacation on the island. A few days on a beach. A respite. A break is exactly what we needed after what felt like a whirlwind of Tanzania. We caught the ferry early in the afternoon and arrived on Zanzibar, to the expected (by now) taxi-driver gauntlet two and a half hours later. While it is an island, Stonetown especially is not new to the tourist circuit and immediately we had “tourist officials” offering their services. Despite being in a seedy part of Stonetown, Andrew read good reviews about one guesthouse and wanted to check it out. It wasn’t far from the port. We walked. Tourist Official #1 tagged along, introducing himself and informing us we weren’t in a good part of town. I humored him, looking at his laminated identification card on his lanyard and thanked him, while Andrew asked a shopkeeper for directions instead. He waited and walked with us (uninvited) to the guesthouse. That… turned out to be a joke. A way overpriced joke. We left and started walking across Stonetown (not so far really, maybe a mile? maybe less?) to check on the other recommended guesthouse.
En route, Tourist Official #2 offered his services. I stopped myself from rolling my eyes and wondered how many men were in on this scam, laminating their own ids and approaching tourists. Instead I shouted ahead to Andrew (as always, I’m trailing behind) “Andrew! Would you believe this kind sir has a guesthouse he would like to take us to? Isn’t that SO NICE of him? And he can help with everything we need on the island!” The “Official” picked up on the fact that we would not be in need of his services and meandered away.
But then, Tourist Official #1 magically reappeared. And this made me super uncomfortable. Either it was a complete coincidence or he was going to walk with us and then collect a commission by telling the owner of the guesthouse that he had brought us there. I couldn’t be too sure and my mouth was a little bit quicker than my mind (which often leads to trouble).
“What are you doing here, you crazy stalker?” I asked in a joking manner, but hoping to convey my I-don’t-want-you-following-me message. He didn’t pick up on my joking tone. He stopped short and his face turned creepy defensive.
“What did you say?” He asked.
“I said you were a crazy stalker.” I replied, now annoyed that he was the one questioning me. He told me he was on his way home or something like that, that could have been believable, only I wasn’t buying it and did not trust him. I like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at reading other people on this trip. I’m not perfect. But, if I get a weird feeling about someone, chances are they are up to no good. And that’s exactly how I felt about this guy.
“I’ve been to America.” He said totally randomly, as he continued, yet again, to walk with us down the street to the guesthouse at the end.
“Then you would know that what you are doing is wrong!” I said, feeling myself getting worked up over him continuing to follow us.
We ended up taking a room at the guesthouse. Creepy McCreeperson hung out outside of the gueshouse for an hour and even went inside to talk to the frontdesk clerk. Maybe he was just on his way home and happened to be friends with the guys working at the guesthouse, but when we returned to Stonetown the following week, the price (at the same place) was cheaper, so I can’t be entirely sure if he really did get a commission or the guesthouse screwed us over. Regardless, it wasn’t the most welcoming first day on Zanzibar.