|Artwork from the Hotel Balcony|
|Beautiful Stone Town|
|Fire in Stone Town|
After grudgingly having to pay for that meal I decided to go for a night cap at rooftop bar at the African House close to my hotel - at least I know not to order food there and just stick to drinks. Approaching the corner to turn into Africa House I see a crowd blocking the narrow street in what is the worst section of what is known as Suicide Alley, with lots of activity and sounds - what now? Turns out the building in front of Africa House had a fire on the 3rd floor, which also houses a Chinese Restaurant. Clean the pork fat in your grease trap people!! The fanciful Dhow Palace Hotel which is close by was running a water hose across the street to help put out the fire – at least they knew that the firemen who would surely arrive when the fire is either put out or the entire building has burnt down. I decided this was not a scene to be missed – we West Indians love fire (not you Anna) – so I ducked under the hose and headed to the African House - why should a fire stop me from drowning my sorrows. I get there only to realize there is even a bigger crowd there as the hotel had been evacuated and several Chinese people walking around frantically. Doing the Japanese thing (which by the way is now becoming the Chinese thing) I pull out my Blackberry and start taking pictures furiously of the fire and the crowd. I missed the best shot though of the man in one of the windows of the building where the fire was burning, sticking his head out the window doing his best Occah Seepaul impression (the former Speaker of the House of Trinidad who refused to vacate her post and a temporary state of emergency had to be declared to get her out) - refusing to leave. Maybe he had faith in the no-show firemen. They did arrive a few minutes later but could not seem to find the hydrant – sorry this is Stone Town there are no hydrants. They did find a pipe where they attached their hose and me being a bit wiser than most of the crowd, quickly retreated to the far corner of the street and watched comically as all most of the curious onlookers got sprayed with water coming through the building and the fire was being put out. This was too much for one night....I chuckled all the way back to the hotel. I thought to myself, I haven’t even reached Dar as yet and the fireworks had already started. And I still had the Econo Lodge (and they do take the Econo seriously) to look forward to for a week. Well that’s another story for another blog post.