After 38 grueling hours in transit, I stood in a stifling hotbox that smelled of musty sweat and stale armpits. With no air-conditioning or even ventilation to speak of, I stood miserably in line at the disaster, death-trap that was Zanzibar customs.
My trip was put together rather last minute, and the travel agency who booked everything failed to mention the visa-upon-entry process. Which consisted of looking at a long list of countries taped to a wall, finding your countries relative fee, only to then stand in another line sandwiched between large, sweaty, aggressive tourists, and eventually pay by visa or cash for your entry visa.
Once you have your receipt, you wait in another ridiculously slow moving line to drop off your passport, scan your fingertips, and give them your information. After this ENTIRELY exhausting process is complete… you sweat out any and all possible toxins in your body and mindlessly wait in the same sauna-of-a-room for the attendant to eventually yell “United States, Jordyn”. (My whole process was made even more dramatic by the fact that I’d somehow left my only visa credit card at Paul’s bakery back in the airport in Dubai and had no cash, forcing me to haphazardly sneak through customs to get cash from my driver).
Needless to say this process was the biggest test for any sane persons patience and built up the perfect amount of angst, stress, and frustration before my journey to the resort. After a 45-minute journey across the island we arrived at Baraza Resort and everything in my body and mind began to melt away. With the chilled lemongrass towel over my face, I took in my first deep breath and allowed myself to willingly forget all that had just transpired. I checked into my two-bedroom villa, drank hibiscus tea, and thought about literally nothing else the rest of the afternoon.
The Baraza Resort and Spa is an absolute oasis located along the Bwejuu – Paje beach and is everything you could ever want in an island getaway. It is this bright, sensual blend of French Moroccan decor with fresh tropical accents. Warm smiles of helpful staff welcome any question or need you may conjure up during your stay.
This five-star resort also happens to be all-inclusive… where breakfast, lunch, and dinner is as thoughtfully prepared as it is delicious. With beautiful cocktail hours in the evenings, guests can chat and mingle as the live band serenades them under the stars.
Each morning at sunrise, I would walk to the beach to take in the ever-changing pastel sky. I would follow it up with a morning run, swim, or kayaking session just off the coast. With help from the concierge, I organized a trip to Stone Town, swam with dolphins in the wild, and visited a local spice farm run entirely by locals who live on the property.
I walked down the beach to the sister resort Breezes and signed up to scuba dive for the day. After the reef dive, the instructor offered to take me on his moped to watch a local soccer match then we cruised over to a locals-only beach and drank Kilimanjaro beer as the sun set.
Zanzibar is a tropical diamond in the rough. The island is rich in culture… from the music, cuisine, and local lifestyle to the strength and perseverance of a country that has overcome a difficult past.