IS­LAND OF PEMBA

Con­stance Aiyana Re­sort

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Paula Ra­bel­ing | Im­ages © Con­stance Aiyana

I do not like fly­ing in small planes. The ones that are full with just 12 pas­sen­gers. My mind is of the opin­ion that there is just not enough between me and a cou­ple of thou­sand me­tre painful drop to the earth. Yet, de­spite my trep­i­da­tion, I climbed the short flight of stairs on-board an Auric Air­craft at Zanz­ibar In­ter­na­tional Air­port to Pemba Is­land.

When my rolling stom­ach and pan­icked mind al­lowed me mo­ments to open my eyes dur­ing the last 15 min­utes of the 40-minute flight, the view of Pemba did make me tem­po­rar­ily for­get my nerves. Pemba was spread out below in dark green shades of jun­gle, with just a few spots of civil­i­sa­tion among the wild growth.

Touch­ing down, the har­row­ing jour­ney was not over just yet. My des­ti­na­tion was Con­stance Aiyana Re­sort, so I still had a one and a half hour drive to go. I got into the 4×4 sent from the re­sort, and my driver hap­pily in­formed me that dur­ing the last 30 min­utes of the jour­ney I would get an “African mas­sage” due to the con­di­tion of the road.

After the bustling streets of the main town, we en­tered Ngezi For­est, home to small farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties, a div­ing cen­tre, and the five-star Con­stance Aiyana re­sort.

Friendly faces, cold tow­els, and a re­fresh­ing drink wel­comed me to the re­sort. Fam-ished, I de­cided my first or­der of busi­ness was to ex­pe­ri­ence the restau­rant – I did this thor­oughly by or­der­ing a starter, main, and dessert. In the open air restau­rant, with white pil­lars tow­er­ing to the high ceil­ing fram­ing the view of the In­dian Ocean just a few me­tres away, and a shisha cor­ner with comfy cush­ions, din­ers can ex­plore tra­di­tional cui­sine, or can opt for more in­ter­na­tional fare.

After mar­i­nated veg­eta­bles, the catch of the day, and lo­cal fruits, the only thing I wanted to do was re­lax. And the ideal spot was just next to me.

Between the restau­rant and bar, the in­fin­ity pool was lined with loungers, and over-looked the post­card-per­fect azure ocean. The fright of the ear­lier flight was com-pletely for­got­ten, as I rev­elled in the warmth of the sun, and sipped on a cock­tail while the sound of the ocean in­ter­min­gled with the laid-back mu­sic com­ing from the bar.

To re­ally get re­lax­ing down to an art, there is Maji Spa. Maji means “wa­ter” in Swahili, and is aptly named be­cause of the cas­cad­ing wa­ter of the wa­ter fea­ture just next door, as well as the calm­ing am­biance that the spa ex­udes to those who visit. Upon ar­rival, the feet of the guests are washed with flower-in­fused warm wa­ter, be-fore be­gin­ning their cho­sen treat­ment. In my opin­ion, there is noth­ing bet­ter than a mas­sage after a long bout of trav­el­ling.

Lay­ing down with just the sounds of the gen­tle wa­ter fea­ture out­side the open win-dow and the smell of the flow­ers be­neath my face coaxed me into a state of ut­ter calm­ness. Hap­pi­ness, my masseur, lib­er­ally spread co­conut oil in­fused with ylang-ylang over my back, and pro­ceeded to knead away the knots I had been devel­op­ing hunched over my lap­top. After an hour of sooth­ing pam­per­ing, leav­ing me in a state of ut­ter re­lax­ation, I ven­tured to my villa to con­tinue my day of pam­per­ing and re­laxa-tion.

Space and el­e­gance. Those are the two words that I would use to de­scribe my Con-stance Aiyana villa. Scat­tered over the path­way lead­ing to the tra­di­tional wooden Zanz­ibari front door of my villa were pur­ple petals from the over­hang­ing bougainvil-lea tree. I en­tered the lounge, and while the sim­plis­tic dé­cor with tra­di­tional pops was in­trigu­ing, my gaze im­me­di­ately went to the glass doors on the other side of the room. Through them, the out­door sala had two loungers, per­fectly po­si­tioned to look out to the ocean. The bright bath­room looked out to a small, pri­vate gar­den through a glass wall, where there was also an out­door shower. In­side, the free-stand­ing tub

looked out to the green­ery, and wooden steps atop grey stones led to the in­door shower. All ameni­ties – soap, sham­poo, con­di­tioner, body wash – are or-ganic and lo­cally sourced.

After watch­ing the sun­set dip below the hori­zon from my sala, I made my way to the restau­rant for din­ner. Plant life and sculp­tures lined the way, an ode to the re­sort owner, Ashok Sungkur’s love for art. He is a sculp­tor him­self, and many of the wood pieces found around the re­sort were cre­ated by him. His son, Max Sungkur, too, is an artist, and the on­site gallery and the vil­las house his vi­brant paint­ings.

Artistry is not only seen in the art­works, but also dur­ing the three-course din­ners. The din­ner menu changes daily, but al­ways has a tra­di­tional Swahili dish op­tion. I opted for the lo­cal cas­sava stew of lo­cal spices and deep fried co­conut-breaded fish. The clay pot was brought to the ta­ble, and as the waiter peeled off the pas­try top, fra­grant stream bil­lowed. Mouth sali­vat­ing, I heaped a gen­er­ous por­tion on my plate, along with aro­matic rice and tra­di­tional salad sides. With a glass of Leop­ards Leap Shi­raz from the well-stocked wine cel­lar of in­ter­na­tional brands, I ate heartily, know­ing that to­mor­row I could walk it off.

Con­stance Aiyana of­fers guests the chance to tour the lo­cal vil­lages neigh­bour­ing the re­sort via bi­cy­cle. Due to my lack of skill on two wheels, I opted to walk in­stead. My guide, Abedi, led me around the vil­lage, speak­ing about lo­cal cus­toms and cul-ture of the farm­ing com­mu­nity. Our stop was the over a cen­tury old light­house, from which the views of the is­land and ocean stretch. As we made our way back to the re­sort, we stopped while one of Abedi’s friends climbed a palm tree for co­conuts, then pro­ceeded to deftly tear away the outer shells and punc­ture them so that Abedi and I could drink co­conut milk straight from the shells.

Con­stance Aiyana is a des­ti­na­tion all on its own. The lus­cious plant life, in­ter­est­ing art­works, gra­cious staff, and im­mac­u­late ac­com­mo­da­tion in­ter­twines with the lo­cal land to cre­ate a distinc­tive des­ti­na­tion. I would hap­pily hop on tens of small air­crafts just for an­other night at Con­stance Aiyana.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.con­stance­ho­tels.com.

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