In Matemwe, our second stop on Sansibar's East coast, Maria had not only booked a very special hotel for us but also a unique cooking class. We stayed at Tamani Villas. A hotel on the beach with three houses, two of which are rented out as a whole as beach villas, and one with private rooms for rent individually. Each of the houses has its own private swimming pool and the whole property was very well taken care of with lots of trees and flowers.
The special thing about this hotel, however, was the enterprise behind it. The hotel belongs to a foundation, and all the profits flow back to the foundation. From the earned money the foundation runs a nearby school, which provides education not only for local children from the village but also for adults to enable them to become entrepreneurs. Some of the services of these local entrepreneurs are then again used for the hotel. For example the laundry serrvice is provided by some local women and the payment goes directly to them. The hotel is, however, still managed by expats.
Another organization that promotes local entrepreneurship is "DADA Zanzibar". It is a workshop where local women produce sauces, chutneys, and soaps which are sold at a shop in Sansibar City. The goal is - among others - to provide the women working there with tools to start their own business. At the production site, the women also offer cooking classes and soap manufacturing workshops. We had signed up for one of their cooking classes.
Even though the place for the workshop is very remote and a little outside of the village, we found it without problems (not least because Maria had been there the year before). Although it took a twenty minute walk to get there from our hotel. We were still early and immediately welcomed by some of the women, who rolled out a mat for us to sit on.
We assumed, we would wait for the other participants to arrive, but it took only a few moments before I was preparing leaves for the curry in a huge mortar (- it turned out later that we were the only participants by the way). Then another woman arrived with the remaining ingredients and before we knew it, we were in the middle of the preparations.
It was not a cooking class as I expected it, where a cook explains different cooking techniques and the purpose of different spices. We were rather preparing food together with these women. This did not mean, that we were not closely supervised and instructed. Even though, the instruction were more demonstrations of how it was done right, since talking was difficult - only few women spoke a little english and we spoke hardly any Swahili.
Every woman seemed to have one particular part in the production process. Some were responsible for the preparation of one ingredient and as soon that was done, they would find a cool place in the shadow to rest, while others supervised the whole process.
I also learnt a lot, like how to make coconut milk. First you scratch out the of the flesh of the coconut. The women there had a special construction for that, which is a small chair with a scratching device attached in the front, so the "scratcher" would stay in place, while they worked on the coconut (of course we tried it out, too). In the next step water is added to the coconut flesh and both combined sits for a while before the water is squeezed out again and the resulting liquid is coconut milk.
In the end we had made a huge pot of vegetarian coconut curry and baobab carrot date jam. Both of which are of course made with a lot of sansibarian spices. While both was boiling on the stove, we had time to visit the soap workshop and saw how soap was made. In the end we did not only go home with a jar of curry and jam each, but also one piece of soap. On the whole the cooking class was a special experience for me, since we were not just observing but participating and working together with these women.
The remaining time in Matemwe we spent relaxing by the pool and on the beach, enjoying the view of the iceblue water. We also had some delicious food, trying out different restaurants on the beach. We had everything from Pasta with Limoncello sauce, fish curry, and pizza.