Last night Kristoffer and I drove into town (the city - downtown Dar) to go out to dinner with two American guys from my cousin's church in Florida who are here on mission. One of them is her Pastor and the other is a financial planner/missionary. We were looking forward to the dinner and ended up having a really nice time with them. It was really interesting to hear about their projects here.
Before leaving for dinner our house was crazy. The newly-fixed washing machine had died and the fundi (repair guy) decided to come at 6:30pm without telling me. While I was putting Grace to bed, Noah (already in bed) started freaking out because he had somehow dislodged his mosquito net from the ceiling and was completely smothered by it. So after dealing with the fundi, Kristoffer had to hang up Noah's net and I got both kids settled in bed. Anyway, we left just a little late but were definitely frazzled.
We got into the city without traffic, which is great, but it was night time and we hadn't driven in the city at night (at least I hadn't...I don't think Kristoffer had either). The Garmin was giving us directions to our destination and when turning down one street, we somehow missed the very odd "do not enter - one way street" sign ("Jill" from the Garmin does not know one-way streets in Tanzania, FYI). We looked at it later and still couldn't quite decipher the picture (no words) and also it was not lit up at all, but regardless we went the wrong way down a one-way street.
And we were pulled over by the police.
Who were mad at us.
And tried to get into our car.
*Imagine that here I have uploaded a picture me nearly having a heart attack.*
You do not want police in your car. If police get into your car, as they tried to do, they might demand a significant amount of money from you before they will get out of your car. Thankfully, the doors were locked (always for safety...lots of robberies and car jackings happen because of unlocked doors) so they couldn't enter on their own. They tried and told us to let them in. Kristoffer - super fast thinker that my wonderful husband is - rolled down the windows to show them the two car seats in the back seat...as in, "look, there is nowhere for you to sit." So we managed to escape their car invasion and just had to pull over. I was almost too scared to talk - I am a really big wimp in situations like these - but Kristoffer was super calm and smart. He had to get out of the car so he locked me in while talking to the two officers (and I silently prayed that nothing would go wrong out there). There was a lot of talking and A LOT of Kristoffer playing dumb. I heard him say things like, "I am so sorry! I have never seen a sign like that in my life! I did not know what that sign meant! We are just trying to get down the street to dinner. I've only lived here a couple of months. I am so sorry!"
In the end they let us go without giving us a ticket or taking us to a police station. One officer asked for some money to buy a coke. Normally we don't do this - we are definitely against paying bribes, don't get me wrong - but it was dark. We were in town. We had technically broken the law. We gave him the equivalent of $1.25 to buy a coke. We just couldn't risk anything else going wrong!
C R A Z Y.
When they were both trying to open the car doors and get in...well, that was one of my worst moments in Africa to date. I am sure nothing too bad would have happened...but really, you just never know.
Luckily the dinner that followed was lovely. But you can be sure this weekend we'll be studying up on traffic signs in Tanzania.