{crazy market} Stone Town Market, Zanzibar

I like to share crazy markets on this and other sites, because wherever I travel, the markets are always a big highlight for me. When we were on the island of Zanzibar, we hired a guide to take us around Stone Town so we could see all that the labyrinthine streets and alleys have to offer, including the incredible food markets.

This was really not just one market, but a group of different markets all adjacent to one another: fruit and vegetable, meat, fish, and chicken. It’s important to note that it was at least 100 degrees on the day we visited, and there is no glass on any of the windows.

The fish market was quite lively, which makes sense since Zanzibar is an island. Although it was messy and slippery and slimy, it was a lot less chaotic than the Mzizima Fish Market across the bay in Dar es Salaam.

Patrons bargain over piles of fresh octopus.

Once you buy a fish, you can get it cleaned and gutted on the spot, and on the ground. There are a lot of blood and guts on the floor, so it can be very slippery in there. (Note: don’t make the same mistake I did; wear closed-toed shoes, not flip flops!)

Even for a meat lover like me, the meat market was a little hard to take. They have a completely alien way of butchering the beef (alien to me, that is) that I just don’t understand. It almost seems like they don’t have sharp enough knives, but that obviously can’t be true. The cuts just seem kind of raggedy and random to me.

Then again, at least in the meat market the animals are already dead. Not so in the chicken market, which only has live chickens, clustered and clucking futilely in reed baskets- until a patron comes to buy one. The buyer selects the bird and it’s butchered on site. (Once they learned I used to cook professionally, they enthusiastically asked me if I wanted to butcher one, but I politely declined.)

The fruit and vegetable market is a little easier on the nose, and you’re much less likely to slip on fish guts and meat blood.

Fresh coconuts are prepped and peeled straight off the branch.

One of my favorite things about this market is that so many of the baskets and bags are handmade out of palm fronds, ropes, leaves, and branches. Big rope bags of durians sit innocently by in palm frond baskets, waiting for someone to break one open and stink the place up.

Just outside the market you can get your bike repaired on the side of the road.

Some of the sellers on the outskirts have small and specific offerings only, like these bunches of overripe bananas.

While I was at the market, I thought it would make it difficult to eat in restaurants for the rest of the trip. That turned out not to be the case as I had no trouble enjoying meals throughout the island for the entire week… and I didn’t get sick, either!

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