If slavery, inequality, poverty and the destruction of the environment upset you before you get married, this is unlikely to change magically after the ring is placed on your finger.

My 10-day honeymoon in Zanzibar with my wonderful new husband had the prerequisite chalk-white beaches, sugary cocktails and all-you-can-eat buffets.

And although it was wonderful most of the time, there were other times when it was just downright weird and shitty.

My favourite documentary film maker, Joshua Oppenheimer, who made two films about the mass genocide in Indonesia, once told an interviewer “most tropical paradises lie atop mass graves”.

Zanzibar is no exception.

By all means a pristine gem in the Indian Ocean, it was also a key port for the massive Arab slave trade from the 1600s to 1800s.

A trade that many say was far more brutal than the Atlantic slave trade.

From this tiny island, thousands of captives from all over Africa were crowded into cold, wet, underground rooms in Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, waiting to be shipped off into servitude.

Visiting Stone Town is a key part of any Zanzibar trip, and not something you want to miss out on.

But how do you feel blissful, or sexy, after hearing about such human suffering? Do you shut off your heart, your mind? Do you just not go to Stone Town and disregard the country’s history?

Just me and him

Another thing they don’t tell you about your honeymoon is that, for the first time in perhaps your relationship’s history, you’re going to be spending at least a solid week with this person – and this person alone.

There will be no jobs to go to, no friends to distract you, no shopping errands to run, no family phonecalls.

You realise quickly that, though you love your partner for life, you might not love them for travel.

Everything that absolutely thrilled me was my husband’s worst nightmare, and vice versa.

He wanted to stay at the hotel at all costs, lounging by the pool and taking advantage of the all-you-can-drink cocktails, while that had me bored stiff after the third day.

My idea of walking along the beach as far as we could, going way beyond the reach of the last tourist spots and clambering across sharp rocks, was hellish for him.

So, too, was jostling through the historic Stone Town market, where you push your way through isles of fish, flies, freshly slaughtered meat, vegetables and spices (while dodging the odd stray cat).

The rutted roads and insane driving that felt like an adventure to me gave him an ulcer, while enjoying our room’s air-con and free Wi-Fi felt like wasted time to me, but made him feel peaceful, secure, comfortable and connected.

This might be the first time you go on an extended trip to a strange country with your partner, and, the truth is, some people just don’t travel well together.

It’s something you learn about each other and remember for the future.

I just happened to learn it on my honeymoon.

Inequality in paradise

Like most African countries, Zanzibar has its fair share of inequality and poverty. The country’s best beaches aren’t for the locals, but instead are occupied by five-star tourist hotels. Once you step on to the sand, at least five vendors will run up to you to try to sell their wares.

Our hotel’s restaurant was also situated right on the beach, and during dinner Masai men from the nearby villages – dressed in their traditional red shukas and with their hair dyed red – would dance in front of us while we ate.

Seeing members of what I consider a proud and dignified clan reduced to jumping up and down for tourists made me feel so deeply melancholic that we usually left dinner early.

While as a tourist you can convince yourself that your money is a vital contribution to the country’s economy, it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re shovelling lobster into your mouth in front of someone who can’t afford to eat.

Someone to worry with

On our second-last day, we booked a dhow trip to Menari island for some snorkelling. Moored above a coral reef, our tour guide told us we could snorkel anywhere, but shouldn’t go on to the island to the right of us. It had a beautiful beach, probably one of the most pristine I’d seen in Zanzibar.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because it’s private. It belongs to Bill Gates.”

Go figure.

Snorkelling along, I noticed much of the coral was a white, bleached colour and later found out this was due to an increase in the water temperature, which is caused by climate change.

Okay, so the best island belongs to a US billionaire and the coral is dying, I pondered.

Like in South Africa, I’d spent most of my time worrying about injustice. So much, I fear, that I didn’t enjoy many of the activities as much as I was supposed to. Was I failing at my honeymoon? Was I ruining it for myself?

I got out of the water and watched my husband snorkel lazily while the sun baked on my back.

Another tourist had just jumped in and it was pretty apparent that swimming was not his forte. He also seemed to forget that shouting and cursing into his snorkel amplified the sound.

I immediately glanced at my husband, who at that exact moment had looked at me, and we grinned knowingly. It was that short, private exchange that we had come to share, that intimate and warm feeling of reciprocity that I now knew I would have the privilege of enjoying for years to come.

The world might be shitty, and I might worry about it a lot, but at least I had him now to worry with me.

For perhaps the first time that holiday, I felt truly peaceful, and let the lazy lapping of the topaz water lull me into a tranquil stupor as I laid down my head.