I was laughing the entire time the photographer was positioning us...I'd known this guy for 2 hours! WHY ME?!
Now here is a funny one! Im not sure why these things always happen to me, but it makes for good stories.
I arrived into Dar Es Salaam, and the LP said that there are shared taxi vans called dadalahs that go into town which are much cheaper than taxis (I always try to use local transportation because it is a fraction of the amount of other easier methods.) So I looked around for the least sketchy person and asked where the stop is. The guy looked about my age (he was 23) and ended up not only showing me the right bus but joining me on it to show me where to get off. This was also good because these vans are small and over packed so I needed someone behind me pushing me in- this was the only way I was getting on with my 2 backpacks, as they are so overpacked with people. He even paid the 30 cents for my ride, and was friendly and gave me the necklace off this back- he had made it. He was kind and didn't seem sketchy, and after I had checked into the YWCA, he asked if he could
she blew a whistle to keep the beat
show me the beach which was a 2 minute walk to the end of the street so I agreed.
On the way back to my hostel, I asked him if he could show me an internet cafe, and on the way into the building there was a photo centre. He stopped, pointed and said: "Do you mind if we get a picture, Ill pay." At first I thouht that maybe this is not that strange- I like to take pictures of the people I meet and maybe he just doesn't have a camera. This is until I realize that this is less "let's hop in the photo booth and get a quick shot" and more "we have to wait for the wedding party to be finished in the portrait studio"--literally! HAHAHA
Once the bride and groom exit, we go in and the photographer starts to position us in these very "couply" positions! I couldn't stop laughing-- because it was both awkward and just at the hilarity of the situation--I'd known this guy for 2 hours max and we were having portraits taken! This doesn't happen everyday! Once it was over he got one printed and asked if
I was going to get some...haha like I might want to mount it on my wall! I obviously declined, but asked that he scan it and email it, so that my family and friends can appreciate it, which he did, and I've added it for your enjoyment. Also, remember, I'd been in an airport for 2 days, sleeping on the floor of the female prayer room, so I wasn't looking fresh and ready for portraits! It is classic! As we were leaving he asked the man not to delete the other shots because he was going to come back and pick them up too...this guy's wall is going to be full of shots of me!
I was weirded out and went back to my room asap! He showed up the next day to the YWCA canteen wanting to go to lunch or a club or something and I told him I couldn't (CLEARLY!)--is this normal here??! I don't think it is normal anywhere!
On Sunday, I went with an American guy to the village museum where they had traditional Masi dancing on the weekends. This was really amazing to see, as was the large assortment of different style of homes that exist in Tanzania. Afterward we got some ugali (thick cornmeal-ish) and chicken, which was good. In the evening I met a cool couple from South Africa who were driving through Africa with their Land Cruiser with a tent on the roof to sleep in. They were really nice and we had a great chat- they were also there when Bony (portrait boy) showed, so it was less awkward, and we had a good laugh when he left and I filled them in on the situation.
Today, I was dealing with all the visa situations for the next while. I went to the Tanzania immigration office to try to make my visa multi-entry so that I wont have to pay another $50 to get back into the country when I go to Zambia, the guy there was super rude, said I couldn't get a multi entry and if it too expensive to pay again then I should just go back where I came from! ASS! I said very politely: "Thanks for that. You are so helpful." Then I headed to the Zambia embassy, only to learn that it wasn't open yet, and he wasnt sure when it might be opening ("maybe an hour, maybe two, maybe 10 minutes"-- the whole hakumatata attitude), so I decided to make my way to the Canadian embassy to get some pages added to my passport as I only have 3 pages left, and the Zambian visa would require one, as would Tanzania when I return for my flight, so I would only have 1 page for all of Southeast Asia, which I know isn't enough.
I got to the embassy and they informed me that they don't add pages anymore and that I would need to get a new passport! After much discussion, I realized this really was my only option, and the only way I could make it through my trip as there are still many more countries to see. Another unexpected expense--my passport was only a year and a half old and now I had to pay another $105--the Canadian government make a killing off of me! ARGH!
This really ruined my plans, and my day because I had to spend the rest of the day doing the things that make applying for a passport at home at pain...only doing it in a foreign place is much worse! When I'd finally got my passport pictures (I had to walk across town to the place that understands Canadian picture expectations) and found an ATM that would work with my card--after going to about 6 other banks, and got back to the embassy I was happy to find the high commissioner, who met with me in his office to be kind and accommodating---which was good because I just may have lost it. So I've decided to reverse my trip plans and go to Arusha to organize a safari tomorrow while my passport is processed in Canada and sent to Dar. Then, next week I will pick it up and be on my way to Zambia. While it was a bad day, it is ok, flexibility is key.
While in the embassy I met a young Aussie couple (Dar has no Australian embassy, so us friendly Canadians help them out) who were mugged the night before and had to get new passports in order to get home....and I thought I was having a bad day! Poor people...but it shows what will happen if you don't pay attention to warnings. The Lonely Planet has specific warnings not to be in the beach area (where it happened) at night. Don't worry Mom and Dad, I don't go out at night and I'm well versed on the Dangers and Annoyances section of my LP.
While walking back to my hostel through a crowed area I feel someone unzipping my backpack and I whipped around with my elbows high and whacked the young kid and yelled: "HEY!", he was caught off guard and said: "What?" and I yelled: "YOU KNOW WHAT! YOU WERE GOING IN MY BAG" and he took off, but I wish I yelled: "THIEF!" to embarrass him. After that, and all the other occurrences of the day, I was somewhat bitter and homesick- naturally.
I should emphasize that independent travel isn't always fun and games, it is challenging and just plain exhausting (both physically and emotionally) sometimes. Today was one of these days.
Tomorrow Im getting a 10 hour bus to Arusha, which is the city from which you organize safaris...it should be better.
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