Zanzibar and My Personal Best

p1030778I 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.


Women in white hijab are usually attending secondary school.


A group of boys were playing soccer with a tennis ball outside the madrassah.


Cool art on the outside wall of a day care center.

I went to the markets in the old part of the city.


My favorite craft shop.


These marlins had just been caught off the coast.


I visited a memorial.


The buildings from the slave trade are gone but this moving memorial is at the site.

img_1496And 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.


We saw lots of happy children along the way who were very interested that I was white. Some made some relevant comments in Swahili that I can’t repeat because I don’t remember them.


This is what a nutmeg looks like before it dries out.

Wimg_1503hen we got to the spice plantation, we learned about a lot of spices and there were many opportunities for tipping and buying things.  We ate an amazing lunch of plantain, herbed rice and cassava.

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.



  1. You da bomb Kimmie! Love everything about this post- particularly the singing and dancing and the beautiful pics. You must have been exhausted.

  2. I LOVE the photo and video. Akunamatata? Really? Can’t believe you did that bike ride. My legs would be like noodles. What a fabulous adventure. Jealous!

  3. You are an adventurer!!!! LOVE that photo of the nutmeg…I mean…you gotta explain that to me when you return. More photos of the carved doors…. and how about bringing me back one of those cool “kippahs?” (little hats. Can pass for a yarmulke.) Fantastic Kim. What a trooper. Triathalon in Zanzibar.

  4. You are amazing, Kim! I love the nutmeg photo, the carved doorway, and the one of you swimming on a horse. What a beautiful journey!

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