Word and Image

Archive for September 22, 2011

Central Market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar. Julia and I stayed in a small hotel, the Coffee House, near to the central market in Stone Town. It was recommended by the travel agent for its location and as a good example of local culture. The van drove to a crowded square. When the driver couldn’t find a place to park, he turned off the engine in the middle of the square, opened the back hatch, removed our luggage, and beckoned Julia and I to follow. We carried our stuff and followed along a series of narrow winding streets. Julia thought for sure we were being lured to our deaths. I admit I was also a bit nervous. When we came to the hotel, the door was locked and we were permitted entry only after we were screened. The central market is crowded and the vendors sold all manner of goods and produce. It was Ramadan and the crowds were waiting to break their fast. Julia was nervous about me walking around with an expensive camera and ‘tourist’ stamped on my forehead. So, I had to shoot from the hip and get shots with the point and shoot Canon G11. Autofocus, fast f-stop, and no look shooting got me a pile of nice shots. I like the skewed horizons and angles. It gives more edge to the photos. Julia was sure I would be stopped and she was careful not walk near to me. Except for this shot, I think that most of the market crowd ignored us. This was a local market. Though there were some tourist souvenirs, this market was filled with local folks just doing their everyday marketing for meat, fish, produce, furniture, and clothes. Visitors were treated politely but mostly ignored by the shoppers and merchants.


Evening in Stone Town

When Julia and I arrived at the Coffee House, a guard opened a peephole and then allowed us entry. After check-in, a slender woman scooped up my heavy bag and marched to the stairs. Julia hefted her heavy backpack. I offered to carry my own bag but the woman waved me off. After three flights, she was bent over hands on knees clearly exhausted by the effort. I think she probably should have left me to carry my own stuff. After we returned from a walk through the market, our room was bathed in this wonderful glow of evening light. We went out later and walked a fair distance to dinner and never felt threatened. I guess being in a strange environment can add to the sense of excitement and danger.


Central Market Exchange

Central market. I got to shoot with the Canon G11 on the first afternoon. The next morning I was up and out before Julia awoke so I used my Nikon and the zoom lens. This shot is a favorite of Julia’s. I used the Canon and otherwise would not have included this photo except that Julia noticed it. The soft focus works here. This is a colorful graphic and the energy of the market action comes through. Because it is without sharp detail the blur adds to the feeling of frenetic activity.


Early Morning Catch

Central market – early morning. Zanzibar is an island and the economy is very much about the sea. All manner of fish are sold at the market. The dhows that ply the waters are often out on the ocean overnight to catch fish. Here, I chanced upon a man hauling a marlin to the fish market only steps away. I wondered if he was the fisherman and whether this was the only fish he caught. When we returned later, Julia and I saw a hammerhead shark in chopped pieces on the ground for sale. Cleanliness appeared to be a casual consideration.


Sugar Cane

Stone Town. We found an open air food market set up in the park near to the water. Vendors began setting up at dusk. By dark, cooking was in full swing just as the fast for Ramadan ended. We had a dinner reservation in a typical restaurant nearby so Julia did some window-shopping. This vendor made a sugar cane drink. At first I didn’t see the appeal of drinking a sweet beverage of crushed sugar cane juice. But they also add lime and a piece of ginger as the cane is passed through the press. The result is a very refreshing concoction. Julia drank the whole thing barely leaving me a sip.


Sunrise

Shooting Star Resort. I’m not a fan of getting up early for the sunrise. But, as I get older I find that I often awaken early. Of course, it helps if you are sleeping on a bluff overlooking the ocean facing to the east. The sunrises were spectacular. A dhow might sail across the scene for interest and depth. In the lower corner is the reflection from the infinity pool. I just like the mood. Sunrise and sunset can be mistaken for one another because of similarities in the lighting. Rather than correct for the exposure I like the darkened foreground in this photo.


Hibiscus

Shooting Star resort. I have many photos of hibiscus flowers made  over the  years from tropical climes I have visited. My first memory were of the flowers in Hawaii. One early sunrise at the Shooting Star, as I walked by this blossom, I noticed the high key light on the yellow flower. Once home, I edited this photo and converted it to a sepia toned image. It makes stunning graphic interpretation of a flower that I have seen many times before. The conversion tones give the image a surreal glow. I really don’t recall having to do too much post processing. All the elements were just perfectly setup for this image to work.


Dhow

Shooting Star resort. The dhow is the signature vessel of the sea in these parts. They are rough hewn and narrow. Outriggers are necessary to balance the boat. A sail can be raised and these small craft are quite swift. The boats are used for transport and fishing. Here on the beach, many craft are available to provide rides for visitors. Julia and I declined because we were unsure of their seaworthiness. And, both of us get seasick. I think I got better photos outside the boats than I would have gotten from a ride on board.