Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012 - A Driving Experience

(Kristoffer's first blog in Dar)

Every weekend here in Dar, Grace and I go to the World Bank to drop off my clothes for the week as I am now biking to and from.  This is also an opportunity to run a few other errands on the way and do some father and daughter stuff. I also have a small “stress ball” in my office that she enjoys playing with.

Today she fell asleep going there so not much fun for me although I enjoyed her quiet company.  On our way back home I saw three police officers on my side off the road. Now the last 4 years in Kenya we have had diplomatic plates on our car. We must have past more than 100 police check points but were never stopped because of those plates. Unfortunately our new Tanzanian car is just being registered in our name and still has Tanzanian plates in the interim. So I was pulled over by these police officers although I wasn’t driving fast or doing anything wrong.

I pulled down the window and a young, female Tanzanian police officer dressed in her beautiful white uniform greeted me in Kiswahili. I greeted her back, but on the second greeting I got slightly confused and she said with a smile, “Sema poa,” which means the response I am supposed to give her is the word for “cool”. I said “poa” and looked at her.

“What is your name?” she asked me in Kiswahili.

“I am Kristoffer,” I replied in some language.

She looked at me in a shy way; maybe she hadn’t expected a white (expat) person to be in this car. “I just want money for lunch!” she said with a big smile, while looking down at the ground.  I am thinking: NOOOOOOOOOOO, I have lived in Africa for more than 4 years and have never given a bribe.  How do I get out of this one, and with my sleeping child in the back?

So after a three second pause, I replied, “But I can’t give you that.”

And then she replied: “OK.”
I asked her, “What?
“Just go,” she said still smiling.  I put the car in drive and slowly spun off.


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