SETTLING IN TO OUR ZANZIBAR HOLIDAY

We arrived on Zanzibar yesterday with Qatar Airways, on schedule, early afternoon – and just so you know, visas obtained on arrival now have to be paid by credit card, Visa or Master Card.

A warm welcome at the airport by Ali Said (who I remember from 20 years ago – still the consummate gentleman) and Alawi from GTI, your agent on the island, who thoughtfully took us to the market to buy fruit, much needed after the long flight from Madrid, via Doha.

The drive to Paje Beach Apartments on the south east coast took about an hour, passing through the Jozani Forest where we were lucky to see a group of five Colobus monkeys. Milan said they were a family because they all looked the same! We will see many more on our safari in the Selous Game Reserve.

The apartment is comfortable and functional, perfect for a family and only a few yards from the beach, and right next to the swimming pool used by the dive centre.

Thank you for booking us in at Ocean Restaurant for dinner last night, literally on our doorstep. This morning a very late rise, beds are so, so comfy and we needed the sleep after the flight.

It has been a relaxing day familiarising ourselves with the area, and Paje village. A long walk south on the powder white beach, past all the kite surfers, and dipping in for swims along the way in the beautiful warm water.

Antonio and the boys were invited to join in a soccer match taking place on the beach. The local players have quite exceptional ball skills, and Lance commented on how cleanly and fairly they play, with no heroics and showing off – unlike the players back home in Spain – particularly our least favourite man – Ronaldo.

Lance then proceeded to tread on a sea urchin. The long established Zanzibari method of removing sea urchin spines came in to play. Small pin prick above the spine, 5 minute application of the sap of a raw papaya, band aid applied. It is believed that papaya has antiseptic qualities. Next morning the spine had come out. Amazing!!

After just one day it has reminded me of how helpful and gentle the local people are on Zanzibar.

MEREDITH, ANTONIO, LANCE (nearly 12) AND MILAN (9 years)