I just completed a triathlon in Zanzibar. In case you are not as athletic as I apparently am, a triathlon is an event involving a 10 kilometer (6.20 mile) run, a 40 kilometer (24.85 mile) bike ride and a 1.5 kilometer (.93 mile) swim. Of course, my accomplishment was completely by accident.
I didn’t know much about Zanzibar before I arrived. Zanzibar is an island that is part of Tanzania and was formerly part of Oman. Unlike mainland Tanzania, it is mostly Muslim and its biggest wild animals are little monkeys. It has many beach vacationers and was a center of the slave trade in the 19th century.
My visit to Zanzibar started out in a typical tourist fashion. I walked around Stone Town and saw interesting people and buildings.
I went to the markets in the old part of the city.
I visited a memorial.
And then I needed an adventure, so I hired Humoud to take me for a bike ride to Zanzibar’s famous spice plantations outside the city. We started out by dodging serious traffic through alleyways and a large boulevard. At times, I was kind of fearful for my life but things got a little better when I thought I would only have a heart attack riding up a steep hill for 2 miles. Humoud suggested I could walk the bike, an option he had made impossible after asking me whether I could “ride a bike” when he picked me up at the hotel. When he asked that question, I knew I had to man up, although at the time I had no idea what that would mean. Anyway, at the end of the hill, it appeared we were nearing the countryside and I said “wow, I am glad we are finally near the spice plantations.” Humoud responded “We are only half way. Seven more miles.” The 7 more miles featured no traffic. Instead it featured dodging rocks and gullies along narrow dirt paths through the forest. Sometimes not dodging them. The heat and humidity were overpowering.
A group of the young men at the farm started singing and one of the other visitors was a party girl — Italian of course!
This is the spirit of Tanzania.
After the hike through the farm, I didn’t think I would make it all the way back to the hotel on the bike because I learned that the “short cut” back was 12 miles. I did make it back to the hotel for a total of 26 miles on the bike. Over a scoop of ginger ice cream at the gelateria, I checked the app on my iPhone that tracks how much I walk. In the previous 24 hours, I had walked more than 8 miles. And then I realized, I had been swimming the day before! (Yes, I was on a horse but it was still swimming!).
And that is how I completed a triathlon on the island of Zanzibar.