THE GREEN ISLAND AND ITS BLUE WATERS
Imagine sitting on a rooftop terrace, watching thousands of giant bats as big as a child flying overhead, from one horizon to the other. In front of you is a three-course meal: clams in cream sauce, tuna steaks from the local fish market you visited earlier, spinach from the garden, and more. In your hand is a glass filled with fresh fruit juice from fruits you can't pronounce. Welcome to Wete, a town in the north of Zanzibar's forgotten sister: Pemba, the Green Island.
pemba is about half as big as Unguja, Zanzibar's proper name. Together, these islands form the Zanzibar archipelago. It is technically a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, and officials unnecessarily stamp your passport when you travel between Dar es Salaam and Unguja's Stone Town, perhaps harking back to a day when Zanzibar was independent from Tanganyika. Pemba boasts a rare 'megabat', the Pemba Flying Fox, endemic to the island and has a wingspan of 1.6 metres. I saw them in the northern town of Wete, my favourite place in Tanzania. The rooftop terrace is part of Sharook Riviera Grand Lodge, but anyone can see these bats as they fly at dusk, from their nesting grounds close to the harbour to their feeding grounds to the north, and back before dawn.
Close to Wete's harbour is the fish market, where a crowd gathers on the dark beach sand in the mornings, looking, assessing