Memories of Matemwe

After Nungwi we hired a taxi to drive us around the coast to a village called Matemwe.

Matemwe is known for its unspoiled white beaches with few resorts and few tourists. The village has a lagoon and a coral reef, as well as a small atoll which is a great place for snorkeling. Matemwe beach is also the longest beach on Zanzibar.

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Although it’s affected by the tide  -sometimes when you set foot upon the sand it gradually sinks down to your ankle- it’s a very quiet and peaceful destination where you are fully enthralled with local life.

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We set about staying here a few nights but ended up staying an extra night just so my brother could have an extra day playing with his two new friends (Hussain and Fatima(with whom he shared his first kiss)-the owners children)  although I think mum was secretly thrilled to have some time. After spending a couple of days with his two new friends Jed announced he officially wished to be black. The room was basic and set back from the beach here at ‘Mohammed’s restaurant and bungalows’ but apart from a place to sleep we didn’t need anything swish.

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The beach however was a long stretch of fine, deserted, white sand apart from the odd fisherman, cows and group of local kids(strangely no wild dogs).

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At the front of our restaurant (which serves the best fresh tomato soup I have EVER had) were simple sun beds attached to trees at either end to serve as hammocks so we could spy on everyone and their business.

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The sea wasn’t so easy to swim in as it was shallow most of the time with a lot of sea urchins further out. If we bothered to wake up, every morning there would be a stunning (sometimes cloudy) sun rise directly in front of us and at that time there really was hardly anyone about.

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Now I don’t want to put you off but the edge of the sea served as a toilet for the local children. Every morning they would go down and..Do their business right in front of us by the sea and wash off in the water. Why just the kids? I wish I knew.

We took this opportunity to do a snorkelling trip to Mnemba Island. Jed was very scared after our previous experience with boats so he refused to go in the water and he moaned the whole way. He only calmed down on the way back saying ‘I really enjoyed that!’ (we all sighed out of bewilderment).

Although we couldn’t land on the small island as it is private the snorkelling (which was away from the main tourists) was better than I thought it would be. A lot of the coral was still in colour and there were many fish to examine. We asked to snorkel in a different area and as we drove around the island to another snorkelling place with lots of tourist boats TUT spotted some dolphins playing not that far away. The driver changed course and chased them. He stopped, pulled over and told us to jump in. Me and TUT hopped into the cool water and there they were, right in front of us. These majestic, amicable creatures swam an arm’s length away enjoying each others company, oblivious to our presence.  We experienced all this on our own for a good several minutes before all the boats came rushing towards us. The fact that it wasn’t known for dolphins and we didn’t expect to see such a marvelous sight made it all the better. After that we carried on to where the boats were previously to snorkel in that area. Although not as good as the other place it was still worth our time.

On a couple of evenings when the wind was strong enough we took our parafoil stunt kite out onto the beach and directed it through the wind along with fancy twirls. This -of course- brought all the village kids out. The more curious ones surrounded us and tried to grab the control lines off us whilst the others set about either: routing through our pockets, catching the kite whenever it fell to throw it up again, trying to catch the line to bring it down, playing (roughly) with Jed or asking for a dollar whenever mum took some pictures. It gave us an amazing insight into local life and really brought an atmosphere to the otherwise quiet beach.

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One night we sauntered onto the beach to see what the sky was up to. We were awestruck when we saw that the whole sky was ablaze with glowing stars. We were able to see the whole milky way; some stars that appeared that night we didn’t even know existed. I felt like if I walked a few more steps onto the beach -towards the sea- I would suddenly fall and find myself among these fine stars burning like it was their last night.

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