Wednesday, July 1, 2009

crossing Uzi

Uzi sounds exotic - reminds you of the gun, doesn’t it? –but for the regular visitor of Zanzibar, there isn’t much to see there. Sure, it has thick forests and the accompanying wildlife (mostly monkeys), lush mangroves and lonely beaches. There are also about 6000 people spread over three villages that are largely romanticized as Zanzibar before the age of mass tourism, which goes to say that things are spare if not backward in the island. Anthropology enthusiasts might visit Uzi. Or as in my case, people may just be looking for seaweed farms.

mangrove hiway of Uzi
the “highway” to Uzi island

mangrove forest
the causeway is carved through a mangrove forest

This second largest of the islands around Unguja holds a unique distinction though. By land, it can only be accessed via a causeway that is accessible during low tide. When the water comes up, the road disappears and you might as well travel by boat.

the channel waters cometh
the channel water rising with the tide

Largely a project of the aid agencies, the causeway is a semi-paved clearing through the mangrove forest that separates Uzi and Unguja Ukuu of the main island of Unguju.

our 4x4 ride
our reliable 4x4 ride

crossing Uzi
a bicycle crossing the causeway

In crossing the island several times I often worry if the wheels of our car will hold up. There are certainly no auto shops in the island and the only other way is to cross the rocky road would be by foot. The people of Uzi are used to these rough conditions; but what is mundane to them is still kind of exciting to me.

To go: Uzi is about 25 km southeast of Stonetown, Zanzibar, accessible by road only during low tide via a causeway at Unguja Ukuu.

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