Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 - A Few Days in Dar

Last week we had friends, Soren and Anne, from Copenhagen visit us for a few days before they went to go on safari, climb Mt. Meru, and beach it on Zanzibar. We look forward to having them for a couple more days again before they head back to Denmark. We get many fewer visitors than we did in Nairobi so we felt it was really a special treat. They brought us presents from Farmor and Hans, which is always like Christmas!, and we enjoyed spending more than just one meal with them (which is usually all there is time for when we are in DK!).

And although they were in Dar for only 3 1/2 days before they headed up-country, in hindsight we realize that they had sort of an adventurous time. Normally in our daily life here we live in an expat-bubble that is just very normal and not particularly adventurous (I mean, given that we are here in the first place). We don't consider it to be "REAL Africa." But our friends reminded us that maybe we do live in the "REAL Africa" a bit more than we think. After all, we have been here for almost six years and must be pretty desensitized. 

Here are some things that we did not think were such a big deal, but that really shocked our friends!

1. Visiting the city's main bus terminal to buy tickets for getting to their safari company in Arusha. It was a more hectic version of this image, and was really overwhelming. They ended up opting to fly (which was my recommendation in the first place!).

2. On our way out to dinner on their first night with us, our night askari (security guard) pulled Kristoffer aside and was hysterically crying. He said he just got the phone call that his father died and he immediately had to leave for the far away village of his family. He asked for a lot of money for the trip. Assuming that the story was true (otherwise his crying deserves an Oscar!) we gave him 40% of the money he asked for...which we know we will never see again (and we also think was on the generous side). Then when we in traffic on our way, the security company called. The askari had not been able to get in touch with the company to send a replacement for him, so he pressed the emergency panic button at our house to get their attention!

3. Riding in a bajaji (called a "tuk-tuk" in Kenya and many other places) like this one with Rose to the big market in town and getting pulled over by the police when the driver did something illegal. The officer tried to get the driver to say that the mzungus forced him to do it so that he could get money from them. The driver did not betray his passengers but did pay a small bribe to be released.

4. On their way home from the market in a different bajaji, a different officer confiscated the driver's keys because he didn't pay for parking the day before. Our friends and Rose had to advance the driver their fare so that he could pay the fee and a small bribe to get his keys back.

5. Driving to the beach for a swim and dinner on their third day with us, we noticed a lot of people, particularly women, gathered at one junction. There was a lot of riot police trying to disperse the crowd. We don't know what happened, but we did see one man get hit with a baton by one of the officers. 

UMMMM....I think that is it? Not "bad" for three days in the expat-bubble! 

Our friends also got to see the wonders of having Christopher (the cook) and Rose around. And they seemed to really like our beach and visiting Grace & Noah's school (where WE thought the pool water was REALLY cold but they thought it was like a mild bath), they had a great time playing squash with Kristoffer and also seeing his office. So it wasn't ALL totally scaring and overwhelming. But I did really appreciate Soren's comment when he said, "Your daily challenges are REALLY different than ours!"

And that was just a few days in Dar!


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