Category: Travel

Zanzibar – The Spice Islands

Situated on the Swahili Coast, adjacent to Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania), lies one of the most beautiful islands in East Africa.  Formerly known as a center for spice and slave trading in the 19th century, Zanzibar is much more than a stopping point on an itinerary, it’s 1,020 square miles of pure adventure waiting to be explored.

N U N G W I   B E A C H   Z A N Z I B A R

Whether you are an avid diver, beach comber, hopeless romantic, shopaholic, love horseback riding, enjoy fine dining or just want to escape and explore new destinations, Zanibar has something for you.

One of the first things you will notice are the countless miles of untouched beaches, romantic, pristine, untouched pieces of paradise waiting to message your feet.  Since this island is not a high traffic tourist destination, there are plenty of beautiful seashells to be found in the early mornings, before the locals awake to gather these gems for the market.

Zanzibar hosts many luxury resorts waiting to pamper your every need.  While I stayed at several resorts on the island, my favorite is the Sea Cliff Resort situated on the east cost, 25 minutes north of Stone Town.  Whether you like horseback riding, golf, sailing, fine dining, the spa or simply relaxing by one of their two infinity pools, Sea Cliff will sooth your senses.

M A T E M W E
Miles of beautiful beaches line the coastline in Matemwe, north Zanaibar on the east coast.
David Loughlin

S E A  C L I F F   R E S O R T

Riding, Sea Cliff Resort, Zanzibar
David Loughlin

Equestrian lovers will find pleasure in riding horses across the tropical countryside into emerald green waters.
David Loughlin

Private Beach @ Sea Cliff Resort
Enjoy one of the private beaches reserved for guests only.
David Loughlin

Nothing like a a couple of beers, a several hour nap and waking to this scenic view.  Ahhh Yeah.
David Loughlin

D I V E R   D O W N

Whether you enjoy snorkeling or deep water diving, Zanzibar offers an array of excursions to meet your needs.
David Loughlin

Diving The Royal Navy Lighter shipwreck at 30m, Zanzibar
David Loughlin

Exploring artifacts below.
David Loughlin

Shoppers Delight
If you love to barter, then the markets of Stone Town are the place for you.  The city is a virtual maze of alleyways all lined with merchants eager to sell their goods.

Rooftop shot at 5:30 am atop the Maru Maru Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar.  Maru Maru means Tile Tile.
David Loughlin

The best deals are waiting to be had if your bartering skills are firm.  Whether you are looking for coffee, fresh vanilla, fish, antiques, artwork or what ever tickles your fancy, you will find it in the market in Stone Town.  Be willing to walk if you do not get the price you want, the merchant will follow you for blocks to seal the deal.
David Loughlin

Open air fish market in Stone Town.  Some unique smells for sure.
David Loughlin

David Loughlin

Day Excursions – Prison Island
There are plenty of day excursions to keep you busy.  Just a 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town lies a little piece of paradise named Prison Island.  This was a former prison, turned tourist attraction that also serves as an animal preserve for the endangered tortoise population.
David Loughlin

The snorkeling is spectacular and the waters are pristine.  Abundant coral lines the ocean floor, rich with a spectacular variety of tropical fish, star fish and much more.
David Loughlin

David Loughlin

We passed some locals fishing on our way to Prison Island.
David Loughlin

The road to vanilla heaven.  Before departing for East Africa I created a bucket list of items I wanted to purchase in each country.  Coffee and chocolate were on the list for every country while vanilla was my primary target from both Madagascar and this island of Zanzibar.  Below are photos of one journey to a vanilla plantation located in the middle of the island.

Farm Country…getting close.

Young vanilla on the vine.

History of slavery is ever present.  This is a former slave cave, over 100 years ago, slaves were stored in these caves after a full day of labor on the spice plantations.


David Loughlin


David Loughlin

Fishing boats.
David Loughlin

Below:  A local spear fishing mid day to feed his family.
David Loughlin

The blue Monkey.  It does exist.
David Loughlin

These kids from a local village want to model for the camera.

Double Rainbow
David Loughlin

Boats
David Loughlin

Foul weather ahead as the sun begins to set.
David Loughlin

Very relaxing evening.
David Loughlin


Ethiopia – Quest for Coffee

In East Africa, heading south to Madagascar through Ethiopia, Kenya (Nairobi), and Tanzania (Kilimanjaro, Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar) before heading north to Morocco for a 13 city tour.

While in Addis Ababa, I piked up some elegant local clothing, experienced the most amazing Cappacino in my life, mingled with some locals, met a journalist with an amazing life story, then headed out in search of the unroasted.

Six hours after arriving another adventure begins.  I’m heading to a plantation that is rumored to produce some very fine beans.  Its a trek into the countryside as the quality of roads begins to diminish every ten minutes.  It’s hot and balmy here, the soil moist and the canopy lush and green with something to eat everywhere.

Calm and peaceful farming communities with decent acreage.  Locals working to harvest the daily yield.  Vines bursting with cocao, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and much more.

I shaved a medium sized bundle of cinnamon off this tree.  My luggage is starting to smell alive with the coffee, chocolate and cinnamon.   Note to self, wrap cinnamon in plastic when packing with clothing.  Smells good though.

Not ripe yet, but perhaps these guys will end up in your chocolate bar one day.  These trees are checked daily all ripe bounties are picked when ready.

In the end, I returned from Africa with coffee from eleven different harvests spanning eight countries.  Some roasted, some raw green, weighing in at ten kilos.  The roasted varieties are producing aromas of chocolate, not, peanut butter, orange, mint, various fruits and more.  After roasting the raw beans, I have a total of 14 different flavors to sample and share with friends.   I take the beans to the sweet, sugar brewing phase of the roast and stop at the first crack, producing a more flavorful, authentic coffee flavor, much lighter in taste than any black french roast will ever produce.

Nairobi, Kenya

The Experience

In East Africa, heading south to Madagascar through Ethiopia, Kenya (Nairobi), and Tanzania (Kilimanjaro, Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar) before heading north to Morocco for a 13 city tour.

I’m on a quest for the elusive unroasted coffee bean from small production farms with a limited annual production of 500 to 1000 pounds max.  I’m hunting for a particular scarce bean that, when roasted to the first crack, yields an aroma of dark chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. It’s color, once ground, is said to resemble the color of the sands of the Sahara Desert at sunset, visually resembling a nutty caramel color with a hint of orange.  My goal?  To return with the most tasty coffee beans I can find.


The Network

The barista mentions a small private tour of a local plantation, known for fine coffee and rare spices. The next thing I know, I’m heading north in a silver van in rout to said spice plantation at the cost of around $30. USD, transportation and guided tour included. People are fast and friendly here if you know what you want.

The guided tour?  More like one guide and five young African farm laborers who gather and present you with samples of their products.  The kiwi was sweet, the mango tangy and the coffee green on the vine.   I’m looking for the money man, so I ask, “how much?” as I point to the green beens ripening on the vine.  “You want?” one guy asks, “how much?” I replied.  “OK, come come” he says as he gestures with the slow movement of his hand.  I broke from the spice tour with plans to meet up with them for lunch around noon.


The Bean

Departing the cool shade of the canopy we crossed a field and navigated over few irrigation trenches and arrived at what appeared to be a shanty bean drying facility and operations warehouse with burlap sacks, 50 kilos each.  I am presented with two types of raw coffee beans to choose from.  Option A was the pure green bean, nothing but the bean. Option B was a mix of raw bean mixed with unsorted rough.  I chose option A to be safe.

Then the money man asks, “how many kilos?” To which I respond, “Ah…..one!”  That’s 2.2 pounds of raw beans and I plan on scoring 10 to 11 times as I move south before heading up to Morocco in the north.

Suddenly it occurs to me that I need to quickly assess my strategy, because my plan is to get a sample from 10 or 11 plantations to roast when I return.  So much for strategy…I returned with 10 kilos of beans from the African continent.  More than enough to master the art of roasting and still have enough to host cuppings (tastings) for a year or more.


The Deal

Money man starts the price at 1,654. Shillings per kilo, about $16. USD.  Two or three times the going price by weight.  After more barter we settle on a price and I walk with my score in hand, only nine or ten more deals to go.


The Score

In the end, I returned from Africa with coffee from eleven different harvests spanning eight countries.  Some roasted, some raw green, weighing in at ten kilos.  The roasted varieties are producing aromas of chocolate, nut, peanut butter, orange, mint, various fruits and more.  After roasting the raw beans, I have a total of 14 different flavors to sample and share with friends.   I take the beans to the sweet, sugar brewing phase of the roast and stop at the first crack, producing a more flavorful, authentic coffee flavor, much lighter in taste than any black french roast will ever produce.

Hmm, Where to go next…

Deep contemplation on the next destination.

 

Singapore

David Loughlin – Exploring Singapore

I have visited Singapore three times in 2017 already, mostly two day stays on my way to some more tropical, exotic local like Bali, Sorong and Raja Ampat.  All told, I spent about a week in this country and I must give it credit.  I love the fine dining, elegant hotels, tropical weather and shopping.  I purchased three custom tailored suites for less than $1K, about 65% less than back home in the states and to my surprise, they were delivered to my hotel the same day by 8:00 pm.  Nothing like the pool and bar at the Sands although I am not much for heights, but the view is beautiful.   The social scene at the hotel pools in Singapore is amazing.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

David Loughlin – Exploring Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

I love islands and the feeling of sand on my feet. Exploring new islands is one of the best feelings ever.  The Indonesian archipelago has more than ten thousand islands, only a few places on earth that create a blank canvas for explorers.  Nusa Lembongan lies just off the coast of Bali, located about 11 kilometers southeast of the main island. It is a small island with the length of 4.6 kilometers at its longest point and width of 1.5 kilometers at its widest.  Only a 30 minute ride by speed boat and your in paradise.

D R E A M   B E A C H
This statue gazing out to sea says it all and gave me inspiration to return to Singapore again, before heading to North and East Africa weeks later.  Singapore, now there is an interesting country.  I have visited Singapore three times this year already,  vastly expanding my wardrobe from all of the great deals and and new Asian designs.  Between Africa and South East Asia, my wardrobe has increased in size by about 45%.  Acquiring stuff along the way.
David Loughlin


David Loughlin

Looking out to see from Dream beach with the Devils Tears behind me and Dream Beach to the left.  Exploring this beautiful island.  The roads on these tropical islands are serene.

D E V I L S   T E A R S
David Loughlin

Tourist parking.

The view of Jungatbatu Village from the hilltop above.

On approach to the island…the bay is lined with resorts perched atop the lush green hilltop.  Take some time and resort hop and see what each resort offers, grab lunch at your favorite place.

Boat bobbing in the sea.  My view from a cliff side cafe as I mingle with a group of German ladies on holiday.


David Loughlin

Seashells are like memories
I have combed some of the most remote island beaches over the past 4 months.  Many of the beaches have loads of seashells for the taking.  Just be sure to get up early and beat the locals as they clean the beaches of these beauties before 6:00 am.   Many are the largest and most colorful shells I have ever seen and so abundant I gathered about 15 pounds of them, extra luggage was required.

Picked this Indonesian bridal necklace up in Sorong, a chartered coastal city in the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua.  Hand made of shells and red coral, this piece of art weighs pounds and is almost 3 feet long.  Returning home with this in perfect condition was not easy.  Not sure what to do with it.

Diving Nusa Lembongan
Nothing like a day of diving with Capt. Morgan, not his real name of course, but much easier to pronounce.  What a great human being.

Another beautiful day in Indonesia. Magnanimous, grateful and blessed to be here at this point in time.