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To get to Zanzibar, we took a 12-seater propellor plane from Arusha – not for the faint of heart. I actually read the safety card in my seat pocket.

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island off the coast of Tanzania. While it is part of Tanzania, it has a very different feel – more Middle Eastern than African. In fact, Muslims make up 97-percent of the population here. You can hear the prayer call over loud speaker five times a day; you see some Muslim women wearing burkas. The boys and I have had some interesting conversations about my views on that.

Unfortunately, Islamic extremists have attacked Christians and Christian churches here as recently as May. That being said, it is a tourist destination in Africa. I’ve been very careful to stick to the tourist scene.

We’re staying at the Zenji Hotel. I had researched this hotel, but none the less, was a tad concerned as we approached from the front. But it was a case of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” The room is clean and large with two double beds draped in mosquito net canopies. (The boys think the canopies are “fancy.”) We’re on the top floor with a deck overlooking the busy street below.

Travel TipTravel Tip 21:  Sometimes it’s ok to pay more.

The hotel manager is very nice and has helped us arrange some activities. It’s not lost on me that every time we book an activity with him, the hotel gets a cut. It would be cheaper to do it myself. But instead of getting in a boat with a guy off the street offering snorkeling trips, I’ve decided to pay a little more for the peace of mind.