Mavis the Goat. The Beach Bungalow Build. Zanzibar. Part Five


Mavis the Goat and Me

Goats are an inherent part of village life. They provide milk, cheese, food and eat rubbish. Unfortunately they also eat expensive shrubbery, make a lot of noise and if allowed to wander around crap everywhere. Most days we saw a herd walk through the compound from the village to the beach and often had to chase strays out who decided to linger and have a nibble on clothes/sleep on the balcony or take shelter from the rain. Phil had been trying for some time to get the brothers to build a fence with entrance gates around the compound to keep the animals out and re-divert the village people who used it as a rat run. It was only the threat of accommodating potential guests elsewhere due to security issues that galvanised them into finishing the project.


“One day Phil announced that he was going to get a kid (baby goat) for Ame. The idea was to feed it up with restaurant scraps and then eat it. He spoke to an ex-student, Muhdi, who agreed to procure one for 50,000 shillings. That included transport for someone else to find the goat, collect it and then deliver it to Pweza, commission for the Muhdi plus expenses. Muhdi told Phil that the goat was in another village and that is why transport costs were part of the deal. Three days later the kid still had not materialised – Phil rang him.

“Where’s the goat?” he asked

“Just picked it up today. I bring tomorrow. Can you hear it crying? Everybody in the hostel thinks it is very cute but it is making a lot of noise” was the reply.

Another day and a half passed. Phil rang him again.

“Where’s the goat?”

“Ah the goat is crying all night and keeping everyone awake. I bring it today before the villagers decide enough is enough and eat it.”

Later that day Muhdi arrived by foot carrying a very cute kid which Phil named Mavis. Mavis was tied up out of the sun, refused to eat and bleated all day. The animal was very distressed. We consulted the assistant chef, Saiid, who was something of an expert on goats.

“She has been taken away from her mother too early. I will go into the village and ask the local village goat herdsman to find a surrogate mother for her until she is ready to be weaned”.

So Mavis was taken away and when Saiid came back he had an interesting story.

“I went to the goat man and he said to me – “Why have you bought back the goat that I sold to someone else this morning for 30,000 shillings? “ So now Mavis is back with her birth mother and he wants 3,000 for looking after her”.

Phil had been conned – the village Mavis came from was our village and Muhdi had just made himself a tidy 20,000 profit!


 Goats can jump in but have to be helped back out

The Brothers. The Beach Bungalow Build. Part 4.


Pingwe Beach at low tide.


Ame’s father had 5 wives who in total gave birth to 13 sons and 1 daughter – I think. They ranged in age from 7 to the late thirties. The problem with working the maths out is that friends and relatives (close and distant) refer to each other as ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’ Ame often said ‘he’s my brother’ by way of an introduction and others we met independently sometimes claimed the same. This led to much confusion as to who actually were blood brothers and who were not. If I totalled the total amount of people claiming kinship at face value it would rival the man in India who’s offspring amounted to 98 (so far). Although I do believe that the Masai chief who had to build a whole new Korral to accommodate all his children and 38 wives could be in the running.

The land that the bungalows were being built on turned out to be owned by ‘the brothers’ and the father. As a consequence the ones that were unemployed decided muscle in and make a claim on the project and its profits. When we arrived we were surprised to find that all the previous workers apart from Ame had left (or been forced out maybe?) and two of the brothers were helping out. Osmane who looked after the bar and sold substances on the side and Mohammed (the eldest) who was in charge of maintenance and building.

Mohammed told me that their grandfather was the first to settle along the coastline at Pingwe and started the community based there now. Over the years the family had sold various pieces of the land to foreign investors and Tanzanians. The last tracts of land to be sold were done so to finance one of the family’s pilgrimage to Mecca. Pweza and its land was the only piece left by the beach and now it seemed that Ame’s brothers and father expected to be supported by the project and, as it became abundantly clear as time went on, they didn’t expect to have to work for it.  Osmane was more than happy to close up shop, go for a smoke, take a nap, drink the profits with his mates and eat the guests food whilst Mohammed spent the building budget on himself or to hire friends to carry out work that was sub-standard (taking a cut for himself of course).  Poor Ame was left running around trying to shop, cook, serve, collect laundry, clean the rooms, organise water deliveries, clean the beach, take out tours, carry out building works and just about everything else that his brothers were supposed to do.    Budgeting, good customer service, planning ahead, paying business expenses, maintenance costs, quality control, doing things in a timely fashion – all new concepts to the brothers.   Dealing with the village use of the compound as a rat run to the beach, locals lounging around on the benches, getting drunk, getting high, using the facilities – again the brothers were ineffective.

The challenge was on and the learning curve for us all was going to be huge.


A Word A Week Photograph Challenge -Kitsch


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Most of us have come across kitsch or even own some.  I had a lava lamp which is apparently regarded as a piece of sixties kitsch although I would argue that the original space themed lava lamp was pretty cool.   I’m not sure if my photo classifies as kitsch but it fits the dictionary description of being garish and I’ve wanted to publish this  one for  a while – anyway its pretty horrible.

Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of your pet that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Remote

A  Word a Week Challenge – Remote

Many of us will have been somewhere that is or seems remote.  Even in largely populated areas or tourist destinations often the sense of being far away from the maddening crowds can  found.  War, terrorist attacks, murder and mayhem rage in other parts of the world and personal troubles and woes can recede whilst we live in the moment.      I remember once visiting  popular seaside town in Devon and taking the dog for a walk along the cliffs.  We walked through a bluebell forest to get there.  The sun filtered through the leafy canopy overhead and because there were at least a thousand flowers the air looked  light mauve.  The wood was silent and there was absolutely no other person around.  It was magical – until the dog broke the spell by came crashing through the undergrowth!

Here is a picture I took at Pingwe Beach at full moon.   Not only was I one my own on the beach but the moon must be the most remotest places going.

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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.


Do you have any photos, memories or stories of your pet that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

A Pleasant Surprise. The Beach Bungalow Build. Zanzibar. Part 3

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Sunset over Pingwe Village – Photo taken from behind our bungalow

Small, skinny, wide-eyed children clothed in ill-fitting, torn and faded hand-me downs, sheltered under the the overhang provided by their mothers bright kanga covered backsides. Pressing their bodies into protective legs they peeped out, watching as we walked by. Older, bolder children ran up to us asking for magi, peso and carameletta. Water, money and sweets. But some just wanted to hold our hands and say Jambo, Jambo. Hello Hello.

We had arrived at Pingwe village. Groups of goats trotted up and down dusty tracks, stopping to nose between copious amounts of rubbish and graze on the sparse vegetation underneath. Hens and cockerels with cheeping chicks underfoot, scratched around in the dirt searching for food. Women lounged in groups on stone benches outside their small coral houses, their drying lines hung with bold pattern printed primary coloured washing. Crates, fishing nets and large, round palm woven traps were stacked up against their walls. By Western standards infrastructure was basic. No running water. No electricity, No gas. Two wells serviced the village and drinking water was trucked in and had to be purchased. No piped gas so cooking,in the main, was done over charcoal. Electricity expensive to get connected and buy so most did without.


Pingwe Beach

The humid heat dampened sound yet the dry rustle of fronds high above from the abundant palm trees accompanied us as we made our way towards Ame’s place on the beach. A man came out of one of the coral rock houses waving his arms in the air. His rotund belly bounced up and down over a too tight waistband as he walked towards us. “Jambo” “Karibu”. Hello you are welcome. “I am Ame’s brother. Ame’s still sleeping, we didn’t expect you until later”. He grabbed a bag and hoisted it on to his substantial shoulders.


Our home prior to painting and decorating

Phil had told us to expect one bungalow almost ready, the one we would be living in. We arrived. There were no fences, or gates around the compound. Concrete, plastic, wood, rubbish, poles, dirt, dirty shells littered the ground. Building material lay in heaps around the back of the bungalows.  A holed water tank balanced on a rickety platform was our only source of shower, toilet, and washing water. Villagers, goats and poultry wandered backwards and forwards across the land using it as a short cut.

Taking it all in I was not looking forward to seeing our living quarters but when Ame arrived and opened the door with a proud flourish I was suitably impressed. A double bed (no mossie net as yet) shower, toilet with seat, washbasin, crates for storage, a couple of chairs and a table, electricity and a ceiling fan.  Not at all bad.  The bathroom needed painting, its floor tiling, it needed a mirror and a curtain across the door opening.   The front of the house required painting, the interior some hanging space for towels and clothes and general decorations to brighten it up.   But on the whole it was pretty good .


The conjoined bungalows were a different story

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Basic with Squat toilets and no shower facilities.

“Where’s Phil?” I asked Ame

“Philip now working at Coral Rock, he come tomorrow…..maybe” was the reply.

Coral Rock was 40km down the road and none of us had our own transport.

For the time being we were on our own.

A Stop Off in Stone Town. The Beach Bungalow Build. Zanzibar. Part 2


Cocktails on the Balcony. Stone Town. Zanzibar

If you don’t have a friend willing to pick you up from the airport or Stone Town, there are a number of ways to travel to Pingwe Beach. Taxi – at least 40 – 50 dollars, the most convenient and expensive way. Shared van – 10,000 shillings each (about $6.50) to Pajae then a dalla dalla (local bus) from Pajae to Pingwe – you should pay no more than 500 shillings each. Two dalla dallas all the way – no more than 15000 – 20000 shillings in total or hitching (not to be recommended).

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Wash Day.  Stone Town Harbour. Zanzibar.

Bearing in mind that we were on a budget, a taxi was out of the question and having been in dalla dallas before we decided that a walk to the bus station, catching a bus to the central market (about 3 km out from the centre) then catching another bus to Michamvi Kae, with luggage, in the heat, was too hard. So we booked into the Princess Salome in Stone Town for a couple of nights and organised a shared van. The Princess Salome is a good budget option, nice people, substantial breakfast included, a rooftop sitting area and, because we have stayed there on a number of occasions, an upgrade at no extra cost.

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Watching the Football. Old Quarter. Stone Town.



Stone Town is worth exploring for a few days. The old quarter consists of a maze of narrow alleys lined by shops, bazaars, spice houses, mosques, schools, markets and coral stone houses. The seafront has wider streets, more hotels and gardens where a seafood night markets takes place every day. Arab, Persian, European, Indian and African culture influences the architecture. A prominent feature of many of the old multi-storied buildings are the elaborately carved Zanzibarian doors and verandas protected by wood carved balustrades.


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Streets of old Quarter, spice house and a Zanzibarian door

Stone Town also has many historic buildings some of which are the former palaces of the sultans, an old fort, the old dispensary, churches, the slave market, churches and mosques, Turkish baths and many restored spices/tea houses. Stone Town is also the starting point for trips to Prison Island and the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Park. If you plan to stay a few days, a word of advice. Zanzibar has a prodominently Muslim population. Short skirts, spaghetti strapped tops, crutch hugging shorts, see through clothing are OK for beach/muzungo areas but wear something more appropriate for towns and villages. Not only will you feel more comfortable but you will get a much more welcoming reception from the locals if you respect their culture.

e u (4) vThe Old Ford and The Dispensary

After two days sightseeing, hitting up the atms (none on the East coast that I know of) and balmy nights drinking cocktails whilst watching the sun set, we left our excess luggage with the hotel, caught an early van and headed up to Pingwe and our friends Ame and Phil.

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Sun Set on the Beach.  Stone Town.  Zanzibar

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Inside

Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish.

Sitting at a cafe in Morocco  tucking into my breakfast I spotted this game of cards taking place inside the building opposite.

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Do you have any photos, memories or stories of that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Beach Bungalow Build. Part .1 Return to Zanzibar



Zanzibar. Assassination, revolution, Sultan’s palaces and Princess’s eloping. Historically central to the slave, gold and spice trade ancient Stone Town remains a thriving centre (world heritage site). Stunning white beaches, fresh seafood, wild dolphin, swimming in aquamarine waters. The allure of this island is undeniable. Yet we returned for another reason. Our friend Ame and his amazing grilled lobster invariably accompanied by a huge plate of chips ground over with smokey, sharp hot and tangy Zanzibar peppercorns.

Of course that’s not the only reason. Our original plan to head up through South Africa into Mozambique, swim with the whale sharks then return back to Zanzibar to help Ame and Phil, another friend, with the beach bungalow build was cancelled. Due to internal conflict in Mozambique; bullets fired into trains; villagers fleeing; army escorts through the Tet corridor, early return to the spice island seemed like a much safer alternative.

Back in October 2013 whilst staying on Zanzibar we’d become friends with Ame, restaurant owner and wannabe hostel proprietor. He showed us over his property and at the back of the kitchen was a tract of land that contained a shack (where he lived), two conjoined run down bungalows and the foundation of another. He wanted to develop but, like so many locals, had no capital. He also wanted wifi. Not much to ask one would think until you understand the political climate and cultural obligations towards family and friends, which seem to make even the most simple task complicated. For example, after registering the business the government requires payment of a tourist tax which is approximately7 dollars a day per person. This makes budget accommodation something of a rarity on the island therefore backpackers tend either not to visit or linger long.

At the same time we met our friend Phil at the hostel we were staying in. Phil, had been working as a volunteer, teaching local students tourism studies. He was helping Ali, the bungalows owner, to develop and promote the business. Unfortunately things weren’t going too well as Ali generally spent the wages, profits, food and drink budget on women, cocktails and dope. So Phil was up for a new project. We introduced Ame to Phil hoping that Phil could pass on some good advice. After an impressive lunch of garlic prawns with rice and side salad we toured the property again and from that meeting the concept of Pweza |Beach bungalows was born.

Five months later we were on our way back to help with the project. Little did we know that our original plan to stay three weeks would extend into two months. Over the next few months I will
write about our part in the Beach Bungalow Build, the joys and trials of living with a local community and Ame and his 13 brothers.


Weekly Photo Challenge – Extra Extra


Chocolate sponge, with chocolate mousse filling, topped by chocolate ganache.  Extra fattening, extra delicious with an extraordinary amount of chocolate :)

Away With The Fairies, Hogs Back, South Africa

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Magical, mystical mountains, verdant forests and valleys, plunging waterfalls and towering trees, bathed in sunlight or enshrouded in white semi-translucent mist, make this a welcome break from the beaches. Good food restaurants abound but the slightly eccentric theme of fairies, elves, standing stones etc can be a little twee for some people’s taste. But get away from the main drag and be transported into a kingdom that Tolkien would be inspired by. We stayed at away with the Fairies run by an Englishman, Dan, and his South African girlfriend.

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Dan picked us up at Chintsa, although he looked a little confused when we dropped first our backpacks down by the truck and said hello. No one had let him know that he was supposed to be picking us up and he had booked a weekend away in East London. We called into the shopping mall and picked up food and alcohol supplies for the hostel and ourselves then headed off to meet Dave who was driving down from Hogsback to meet us halfway and pick us and the supplies up. Now this is where Chris comes back into the story.

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“I had a staff member staying in Chintsa” Dan told us
“We met him” we replied.
“I had to send him away to get his head together after he took a two day trip on magic mushrooms and lost the plot”
“Oh we thought he lived there the way he talked”
“He’s been working just over a month and he’s been tripping most of the time.
“I think he still is” I replied “we also met ????? said he was doing work for you.
“He was building patios, and we had to take them down as they were dangerous” said Dan
“Ahh I heard him talking to you on the phone. You refused to pay him”
We met up Dave and left Dan to enjoy his holiday. An hour and a half later Dave decided to divert to the township in Hogsback to check to see if a car was ready to be picked up from the garage.
“If it is” I pondered “who is going to drive it?”

Luckily it wasn’t so I wasn’t called upon to drive it up the mountain. Later when Dan returned and told us he was relieved that we’d made it as Dave could be a little unreliable at times I told him about the unscheduled stop that added another ½ hour to the journey, including my panic when I thought I’d be asked to drive one of the cars.
“That wasn’t the plan” Dan replied “What on earth was he thinking?“
And that’s what I love about travelling. People.


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