Feb-March 2010

Day 1 of Diary

Day 12 - Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

I woke early. The tide was out, and the beach was quiet as I walked past the pool to the stairs to the restaurant area. The hotel dhow was anchored in the calm water, waiting for the day’s cargo of guests to visit the sandbanks nearby for snorkelling, or to sail to and from Stone Town.

Restaurant, Morning 


A generous breakfast buffet was laid out, with fresh juice, tropical fruits, cereals, and full English breakfast plus a bread platter with all sorts of rolls and croissants.

Fortified, I headed for the office to chat with Cesare about recent happenings at Mbweni. He took me to see the work in progress on the Ruins. He has engaged a team of experts in the old methods of building – with lime and coral. I was pleased to see that a lot of renovation has been done on the old Arab courtyard building of the main ruins, tying the floors and making the rings round the tops of the walls safe so that a protective roof can be laid on top.

Work on the Ruins
Work being done in the traditional way, on the Mbweni Ruins main courtyard building

Work on the Ruins 

Mbweni ruined chapel

Some of the worst damage to these fragile ruins is done in the rainy season each year. This was a ruined school for freed slave girls, built by the UMCA missionaries who travelled up the Zambezi with Livingstone in the 19th Century. The chapel is especially beautiful.

  The Palm Gardens

Cesare Giacomelli 

Cesare standing by the Jacfruit tree outside the reception office.   

Doves in the ruins  

Doves nesting in the ruins

As we walked back through the palm gardens, Cesare noticed some white doves nesting in the ventilation holes of the Industrial Wing of the ruins. Truly this place has a very special feel and attracts a lot of bird, insect and small mammal life.

Timaini and Isaac
Tumaini and Isaac

In the afternoon, Tumaini brought her beautiful son Isaac to visit us. He is not yet 2 years old, and extremely healthy as you can see!

Baobab suite 

Baobab veranda
The Baobab suite with its rooftop veranda

Mangrove Bar in the evening 

Mbweni Sunset

That evening we sat in the Mangrove Bar as the sun went down in one of Mbweni’s famous sunsets. The dinner tables were set out on the beach, with fires in pits, and we dined to the sound of the waves, and later retired to our rooms to sleep the peaceful night away.

.....forward to Day 13

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