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Totul e mai fain in Zanzibar/ Everything Is Better In Zanzibar

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Su Shi

184 vizualizări

Zanzibar 03 - 07/06/2012

Primavara Araba e in toi, iar piata locurilor de munca in arhitectura trece prin epoca glaciara. La 20 de mile nautice de coasta estica a Tanzaniei, intr-un golf din Zanzibar, Fatuma, in varsta de 36 de ani, s-a trezit inainte de 5 ca sa munceasca pe plantatia de alge. Are ragaz doar pana in pranz, cand mareea va incepe din nou sa creasca. 

The Arab spring was bubbling and the architecture industry was tumbling into a new ice age. Meanwhile, 20 nautical miles offshore mainland Tanzania, in a tiny gulf in the Zanzibar archipelago, 36 years old Fatuma had woken up before 5 a.m. to work on her seaweed plantation. She had until noon to take advantage of the low tide, but she was in no rush.

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Sosisem pe insula Fatumei cu doua zile in urma. Pana la revolutia din 1964, Zanzibar a fost condus de un sultan, rasturnat de la putere in favoarea alipirii experimentale la republica Tanganika. Revolutia a pus capat influentei Omanului, dar si epocii ‘de aur’. Zanzibar fusese pana atunci capitala comertului cu sclavi, fildes si condimente de-a lungul Africii de est, bucurandu-se de prosperitate, devenind in timp patria unei culturi aflate la confluenta traditiilor araba si africana: cultura swahili. Arhipelagul - in care predomina religia musulmana si conservatorismul - este foarte fiferit de restul Tanzaniei, si insula Pemba inca domina comertul mondial de cuisoare.

Acesta este un paradis gourmet. In prima seara pe insula, Neyfuu a inceput intierea noastra in aventura culinara cu o iesire in Forodhani, la kebap si Zanzibar pizza (un chapati umplut cu carne tocata de vita)

We had arrived 2 days ago on her beautiful, but touristy home-island. Until the 1964 Revolution, Zanzibar was ruled by a sultan, overthrown in favor of an experimental union with the (then) republic of Tanganika. That abruptly ended the Omani influence and the archipelago’s heyday. Zanzibar had long been the centre of East Africa’s slave, ivory and spice trade, enjoyed economic prosperity and became the birthplace of swahili culture, a unique blend of African and Arab heritage. The largely conservative Muslim society is proudly distinctive from the rest of Tanzania, and Pemba island still dominates the world’s clove trade. 

This is a  foodie paradise. For our first night out, Neyfuu took us to Forodhani (Jamituri) Gardens, for zanzibari pizza (a chapati stuffed with minced meat) and mishkaki (kebabs)

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In piata, gramezi de turisti imbracati sumar; era cea mai mare concetratie de albi pe care o intalneam de cand parasisem Africa de Sud

Many tourists mingled abut in skimpy clothing; it was the largest concentration of whites we had seen since leaving SA

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La micul dejun Neyfuu a facut paine ca in Oman (un fel de clatite) cu miera de cuisoare din Pemba si ceai cu ginger

For breakfast, Neyfuu and cooked Omani bread (resembles a French crepe) with clove honey from Pemba and ginger tea… 

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Totul este la superlativ in Zanzibar. Nu am incercat nici un restaurant adevarat - din cele in care chiar stai la o masa si ti se aduce un meniu. Tot ce povestim aici este mancare ‘de strada’. Localnicii isi incep ziua cu o portie de carbohidrati: boflo (paine tipica in Zanzibar), paine de Pemba (un boflo prajit), maandazi (sau andazi, niste gogosi care in Zanzibar sunt parfumate cu cardamom), chapati cald sau orice alta varietate de paine (si sunt zeci). Paine merge cu ceai masala sau de ginger (simplu - ‘rangi’, sau cu lapte - ‘maziwa’). Daca ziua ta inseaman carat cu spatele cateva tone de chestii, o sa incepi insa cu o supa de vita sau chiar un curry.

Everything tastes better in Zanzibar. We did don’t sample what proper restaurants - you the kind of places your order tilapia and they bring you embellishments of fruit and flower - have to offer. This is all street-side food. Locals start their day with a dose of carbs: usually Zanzibari bread (bolo), Pemba bread (like a double toasted bolo), maandazi (you may see it spelled andazi, and is a small doughnut which in Zanzibar is perfumed with whole cardamom), chapati or another variety (and there are dozens). Bread goes with spiced masala or ginger tea (chai rangi - simple, or chai maziwa - with milk). Sure, if you need to move some tons of charcoal and sugarcane with your bare hands, you might go for a hardier breakfast, like soup. 

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Pe raftul de sus: boflo. Asa arata o dugheana tipica pentru mic dejun, camuflata de o perdea semi-jegoasa. Perdeaua trebuie data la o parte, si voila!

Top shelf: bolo. This is a typical village breakfast stall, unmarked, camouflaged behind a curtain. Hungry? See a curtain? Pull it, and there’s your food, man.

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Tine minte un cuvant: Darajani. Aceasta e piata centrala din Stone Town, unde se intalnesc toti comerciantii, toate aromele si toate ispitele. I-ma dat multe ture, gustand cate putin din fiecare. Ca de obicei in comunitatile rurale, mai ales in cele musulmane, ospitalitatea e la mare cinste. Una dintre mamaiele care prajeu peste mi-a atras cumva atentia. ‘Ton’, a zis ea, ‘mananci ton?’

Calule, mananci ovaz? Carnea de ton nu este, din pacate, o sursa sustenabila de hrana, si trebuie limitat consumul, dar ne place amandorura la nebunie, cruda sau la gratar. Dar prajita? Filetul de peste, suculent la interior si crocant la exterior a petrecut o matura magica peste memoria noastra gustativa, eliberand instantaneu un spatiu in care odinoara trona gustul de ‘sushi’. 

We’ve got one word for you: Darajani. This is the central market in Stone Town, where all vendors, flavors and temptations collide. We walked through, taking bits of everything. As usual in African rural communities or muslim countries, hospitality is key. Vendors were happy to refill our tea cup over capacity and street-side mamas frying fish to see us returning for seconds. Something caught my eye with this one mama. ‘It’s tuna’, she said. ‘Do you eat this?’

We did. Tuna is arguably an unsustainable fish, but it’s so good, raw or grilled, but fried? The perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chunk of tuna swung a magic broom in our gustative memory, clearing an instant space, where sushi used to be. 

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Supa de caracatita (dedicatie speciala pentru dl. Hogas!)

Octopus soup

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Ficat de vita in marinada dulce-acrisoara de mango

Beef liver in mango sweet and sour marinade

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Boflo urias

Oversized boflo

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Dar asta nu e tot: frigarui de scoici Saint-Jacques, midii si calamar; supe de tot felul; galuste de cartofi… Chiar si taitei facuti si zvantati in aer liber de un chinez get-beget.

But there’s more: skewered scallop, squid, mussels; beef soup; potato dumplings… Even chinese noodles rolled by the chinese, drying on outdoor platforms.

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Intre delicate, se poate savura un pahar de racoritoare naturale: suc de trestie de zahar, fructl pasiunii si avocado, sau tamarind

To refreshen the palate between bites, there is a mind boggling variety of juices: sugar cane, passion fruit & avocado, tamarind

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Am reflectat o clipa la cat timp si efort sunt necesare pentru a produce un pahar de 200 de shilingi (20 de eurocenti). Trestia de zahar trebiuie cultivata, recoltata, transportata la taraba cu suc, unde un om are de luncit cateva pre bune pentru a curata si taia tulpinile. Sucul se extrage pe loc, cu o presa manuala, apoi este amestecat cu gheata pisata, si nici nu vreau sa ma gandesc de unde mai vine si asta. Dar nu suntem Gargantua si Pantagruel. Ca sa mai facem loc de-o masa, am pornit intr-o plimbare prin Stone Town, sufletul si inima insulei.

We pondered the time and effort needed to produce a 200 Tsh (10 Euro cents) glass of perfectly chilled sugarcane juice: the cane needs farming, harvesting and transporting to the juice stall; where a man would work for hours to clean it and cut it, then when the thirsty crowds gather, he will roll the cane through manually operated machine to squeeze the sweet liquid, which is mixed with crushed ice, and we haven’t even started about where does that come from. Now, we are not Gargantua and Pantagruel. To make space for more of the good stuff, we took a walk around Stone Town, the pulsating heart of the island. 

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Labiritnul de alei inguste, casele cu doua caturi si pravalii la parter si femeile invaluite in portul traditional ne-au amintit de Maroc. Doar Ana a fost acostata de cateva ori de ghizii de ocazie, care vazand cosul ei de palmier (in care cumparasem fructe dintr-un satuc), ne-au confundat cu turistii care participa la ‘turul condimentelor’. Am aflat mai tarziu ca in aceste tururi clientii primesc cele mai caraghioase palarii din palmier, care seamana cu cosul Anei.

Narrow alleys, double storied houses with diminutive spice & handcraft shops @ ground level and veiled women reminded us of the Moroccan medinas. Ana was toting the empty eco package from some fruit she had bough a few hours ago in a village, which kept instigating touts to ask if we were from the ‘spice tour’. It turned out that on these ‘spice tours’ tourists receive the most ridiculous woven hats that resembled Ana’s basket. 

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Zanzibar are circa un milion de locuitori, predominant musulmani. Moschee, madrase si caravanseraiuri se integreaza armonios alaturi de biserici si temple hinduse in textura urbana, cu fatadele lor simple, albe, decorate cu sure din Coran si cu structura lor pavilionara, tipica pentru arhitectura araba timpurie. Din 2000, capitala micului arhipelag este sit protejat UNESCO World Heritage.

Zanzibar has around one million of predominantly Muslim inhabitants. Mosques, madrases and caravanserais blend harmoniously with churches and hindu temples into the townscape, with their simple white facades decorated with suras from the Quran and pavilions so typical of early Arab architecture. Since 2000, the capital of the small archipelago has been a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Daca seara e o Djema El Fna in miniatura, ziua Forodhani e o gradina calma si insorita

After looking like a miniature Djema El Fna last night, now Forodhani was quiet and sunny

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In centrul gradinilor Forodhani se afla giuvaerul regretatului sultan Sultan Bargash, un ‘Harun ar-Rashid’ al dinastiei Busaidi. Monumentala constructie imbina elemente de arhitectura coloniala indiana si victoriana si a fost supranumita ‘casa minunilor’, pentru ca in epoca de care apartine era singura casa din Zanzibar cu acces la electricitate, dotata chiar cu un lift electric.

In the heart of Forodhani lies the jewel of the late Sultan Bargash, the ‘Harun ar-Rashid’ of the Busaidi family. The monumental building with elements of Victorian and Indian colonial architecture was dubbed the ‘House of Wonders’, because at the time it was the only house on Zanzibar that had electricity and even an elevator.

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Portaluri impozante si obloane sofisticate sunt o caracteristica a centrului istoric. Decorate cu simboluri care atesta statutul si aduc prosperitate (lotus, nufar, soarele), cu insertii de lemn pretios si basoreliefuri caligrafice (versete din Coran), aceste porti sunt o marturie a traditiilor araba, indiana si swahili si sunt un izvor de informatie referitoare la stapanul casei, obarsia si chiar meseria sa.

Imposing gates, portals and shutters are a characteristic of the old quarter of Stone Town. Decorated with symbols of status and prosperity (lotus, water lilly, the sun), wood inlays and calligraphy (Quran verses), they are indicative of the diverse of Arab, Indian and Swahili heritage, providing information about the owner of the building, his origin and even his trade.

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Usile si-au pastrat importanta pana azi si sunt un dar de nunta foarte apreciat.

Even the newer doors bear an important significance, and make mandatory wedding gifts for newlyweds

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Intrarea principala in moscheea Ismaili, cu portal in stil Gujarati

Gujarati style doors at the main entrance of the Ismaili jamatkhana (mosque) 

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‘As manca un fruct’. Trecusera cateva ore, digestia isi facuse treaba. In mod miraculos, totul parea sa fie in sezon in Zanzibar: fructul pasiunii, ananas, cocos, mango, avocado, papaya, durian etc. Dar noi eram chititi sa incercam ceva anume, ceva ce vazusem in Asia, dar nu gustasem inca. Testiculul gigant din lumea fructelor. ‘Nataka fenesi’, am intrebat in stanga si indreapta. In curand ne-am gasit omul. ‘Poftim’, aproape ca a murmurat el, taindu-ne o felie generoasa. In coaja lemnoasa, miezul galben pal al unui jackfruit perfect copt.

‘I’m ready’ I said, after a while, ‘let’s hit the fruit stalls’. Everything seamed to be miraculously in season: passion fruit, star fruit, banana, daf (young coconut), embe (mango), parachici (avocado), pawpaw (papaya), durian, bread fruit and anything you could possibly desire. But we knew what we were looking for, something we have seen before in Asia but had yet to try. The oversized testicle of the fruit world. ‘Nataka fenesi’, we asked left and right, and soon enough we had found our dealer. He quietly cracked it open. “Check this out,” he almost whispered. Inside, pearly yellow clusters of perfectly ripe jackfruit.

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Nu-i asa ca e grozav sa te simti ca un copil din nou, si sa mananci cu mainile ceva ca o budinca de banane? O sa te umpli de ceva materie lipicioasa, dar merita sacrificiul pentru ca jackfruit, declaram, e fructul secolului. Bun, era vremea sa vedem si ceva insula. Puteam sa o ardem cu dala-dala, microbuzele ieftine ca braga, dar sincer, imi lipsea un motor intre picioare. Nassur a sunat un prieten, si dupa cateva momente de ezitare, aveam o Honda. Avea sa ne coste doua treimi din bugetul nostru zilnic, dar eram siguri ca ne vom descurca, cu mancare ultra ieftina in sate si cu dormit la cort. Si cu motorul asta usor putea sa se dea si Ana nitel. Mai intai am luat-o spre nord, pana in Nungwi.

Isn’t it awesome to feel like a kid again, and eat something that tastes like banana custard with your hands? Sure, there will be some of that sticky stuff oozing from the center all over yourself, but dang, baby. Jackfruits, they is fine.

Now, it was time to see some island. One option was the inexpensive dalla-dallas, but I had to have an engine between my legs. Nassur called a chap who would give us a Honda for 2/3 of our daily budget. ‘Local price’, he said. After a moment of self doubt, we shrugged and said: hey, its’ okay. We could indulge in great food for under 3 euros for both per day and we would sleep al-fresco anyway. And this bike was light enough for Ana to also have a go. First, we headed to the northernmost point of the island, Nungwi.  

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Puteam, in sfarsit, sa ne scoatem pantofii, sa ne cojim sosetele si sa umblam in picioarele goale. Milioane de molecule din planeta-muma ne masau si gadilau talpile si sufletele. 

Free feet, at last. We kicked off our suffocating shoes, peeled off our stinky riding socks and let a bazzilion molecules of mother earth massage and tickle our soul and our soles. 

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Din Nungwi am mers de-a lungul coastei in Matemwe, unde zborurile saptamanale directe dintre Italia si Zanzibar au dus la apartia unui fenomen surpinzator. Pescarii saluta cu un ‘ciao, come stai?’, etnici maasai (sau maimutoi in costume traditionale maasai) angajati pe post de paznici in statiuni vorbesc italiana. In vremea asta femeile in val arab si barbatii lor isi vad de reparat navoadele. Niste copii aveau posta de skanderberg.

From Nungwi we rode south along the east coast to Matemwe, where direct weekly flights between Italy and Zanzibar had resulted in a eclectic scene: fishermen greeted us with a ‘ciao, come stai?’, Italian-speaking Maasai tribesmen (or people wearing a costume, who knows) stand guard by resort entrances, while local men and veiled women mended their nets. Some kids wanted to skanderbeg. 

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Cu cat am avansat spre sud, cu atat totul a devenit mai poluat de turism. Asa cum a citat un biciclist britanic pe blog, ‘sunt locuri invaluite int-o aura de romantism, carora inevitabila dezamagire pe care calatorul o traieste la vederea lor, le da un caracter aparte’(Somerset Maugham). Hectare de copaci au fost de mult defrisate, mai exista putine, sau chiar deloc, animale salbatice in padurea Joziani (actualmente proprietate privata!) si peste tot bula imobiliara da sa crape. Din pacate multi se bucura sa aiba momentul lor pe plaja perfecta, fara sa le pese ca intregi comunitati sunt dispersate pentru  a face hotelurilor de lux si vilelor. (O nota catre romani: am aflat cu stupoare de curand ca in Vama Veche au devenit atat de trendy incat au aparut localuri de fite). In Jambiana nu ne-a putut lua in tihna o gustare de fucte pe plaja fara sa fim in permanenta agasati cu oferte de cazare ‘ieftina’, tatuaje cu henna si chiar monezi de colectie. In primul catun de coral insa, ne-am regasit linistea. 

The more south we went, the more touristy it became. As a longtime cyclist quoted in his excellent blog, ‘there are certain places, surrounded by a halo of romance, to which the inevitable disillusionment which you must experience on seeing them gives a singular spice’(Somerset Maugham). Hectares of trees had been long wiped out, there is little, if any, wildlife left in the now ‘privately owned’ Joziani forest and there is a hectic display of real-estate bubble waiting to pop. Unfortunately many contend to enjoy their white beaches and turquoise sea, while whole communities are being disenfranchised and dispersed to make place for more and more buildings. (A note to fellow Romanians: we recently learnt that Vama Veche beaches have became so trendy that some streches have now names!). In Jambiani, we couldn’t enjoy our passion fruit snack, without constantly being offered ‘cheap’ accommodation, collectables and henna tattoos. Riding through coral stone settlements we found peace again.

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Gasisem o curte goala unde am fi putut campa, dar pana la urma am fost primiti intr-un resort pe langa Uroa, unde aveam si internet.

We had spotted an empty compound where we could camp, but then we found an empty resort near Uroa, where they would allow us to pitch the tent and indulge in decent wifi. 

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Am dormit bine, in sunetul valurilor purtate catre recif de curenti. Dimineata dhow-urile pluteau enigmatic pe mareea in urcare.

We slept well, the roar of the waves splattering the reef carried ashore by the south east monsoon wind. In the morning, the dhows floated enigmatic on the rising tide. 

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Pe la jumatatea insulei Uguja, marea se retrage mult in larg la fiecare sase ore. Grozav pentru a conduce un pic pe plaja.

Halfway between the southern and northern tip of Uguja island, the surf retreats every six hours many kilometers away. Great for beach riding. 

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Cand mareea e joasa, o vasta intindere de nisip se dezvaluie soarelui, punctata de balti pline cu arici si stele de mare.

At low tide, the wet mass of sand stretches naked. Small pools of water were busy with sea urchins and starfish.

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Ariciul asta avea o culoare psihedelica

This guy had a psychedelic glow

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Este mediul ideal pentru acvacultura algelor rosii (Euchema spinosum si E. cottoni), care se folosesc in industraia alimentara si cosmetica. Plantatiile de alge sunt exceptionale, pentru ca nu au efecte negative asupra mediului si pentru ca permit femeilor sa castige - intr-o societate atat de stratitificata si conservatoare ca cea din Zanzibar - pana la de trei ori mai mult decat sotii lor, care se ocupa cu pescuitul. In satul Pongwe, o mana de localnice iesisera pe plantatie. Printre ele, Fatuma, care i-a propus Anei sa dea o mana de ajutor.

It is the ideal environment for aquaculture of red algae (Euchema spinosum and E. cottoni), used in the food & cosmetic industry. Seaweed farming is exceptional, because it is an environmentally responsible trade and because women famers can earn up to three times than what men earn in commercial fishing. In the village of Pongwe, a handful of locals had come out to work. Fatuma was among them, and soon enough she invited Ana to give a hand.

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O vreme Ana a cochetat cu fantezia de a ramane pentru jumatate de an aici, cu genunchii in apa ca cristalul si mainile in alge.

For a while, Ana fantasized about staying in this corner of paradise and work on the plantations for a few months.

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Odata recoltate, algele se usuca la soare. Guvernul le-a asigurat femeilor acces la zona de coasta, drept de proprietate pe loturile plantate si a negociat in numele fermierelor un pret mai bun cu importatorii si cu exportatorii.

Once harvested, the seaweed is sundried. The government has provided women with access to coastal waters, ownership of seaweed plots and negotiated on behalf of farmers a fairer harvest price with export-import companies.

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Un aspect interesant este faptul ca algele ar putea fi o sursa nepoluanta de energie bio, dar tranzitia catre exploatarea acestei resurse naturale ar putea periclita rolul deja fragil al femeilor in lupta entur subzistenta. Dupa cateva zile in Zanzibar, era vremea sa plecam. Sa lasam in urma plantatiile de alge si dhowurile singuratice.

An interesting fact is that algae could be an environmentally friendly source of bio-fuel, one that, unlike alternatives, does not compete for arable land. But transition to a bio-fuel revolution could be far from happening, because of the recent emergence of women as primary bread-winners in the conservative Zanzibari society. And maybe it would be better to stay this way, because venturing into the global market always has its negative perks. Anyway, after spending a few days in Zanzibar, it was time to go. Say good bye to the surreal seaweed fields and the romantic dhows.

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Tenga, un cos traditional de pescuit

Tenga, a woven fishing basket

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Am plecat din Zamzibar cu sentimente antagoniste. Insula poate inca fi considerata un paradis tropical, dar turismul de masa munceste non-stop pentru a schimba asta. Oamenii de rand din Zanzibar si Pemba nu ajung sa se bucure de banii adusi de turisti si comertul cu condimente si raman in mare parte ne-educati si saraci. Tanara generatie este in favoarea revenirii la autonomia arhipelagului. Una peste alta, cultura, mediul natural si mai ales oamenii din Zanzibar ne-au facut sa ne indragostim de acest loc, in care speram sa revenim candva.

We left Zanzibar with mixed feelings. We guess it could still be viewed as a relatively unspoiled paradise, but the tourism industry is striving to change that. Ordinary people born on Zanzibar or Pemba hardly reap any benefits and remain largely uneducated and poor, and younger generation is favoring a return to autonomy of the archipelago. But the culture, landscape, food and especially people of Zanzibar made us fall in love with this place, dreaming to ever return, and maybe stay.



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