Monday, October 20, 2008

SOME MUSINGS ABOUT ZANZIBAR

Here are some miscellaneous “happenings” during our days in Zanzibar

LOUSY BEGINNING

....We were told by our taxi driver from Bagamoyo to not let anyone take your bags. We tried!! When we got to the ferry port we were okay until two “porters” told us we had to go through “security”. These 'porters” grabbed our bags, threw them on a table where a person behind the table asked if we had any guns, knives or drugs with us. They forgot to ask about nuclear warheads, WMD, or the bows and arrows from the Bushmen. We said no and the porters grabbed the bags and carried them on the ferry against our protests. They delivered them to first class seats and demanded $10.00 for the four bags. They looked mean and wouldn't hear of the $1.00 per bag that we insisted they get ($4.00). EXTORTION or FOREIGN TAX (same thing but said kinder)???? You choose.

....AFTER THE LOUSY BEGINNING.....

UGH!! No air conditioning in our inside compartment on the “fast ferry” from Dar to the port of Zanzibar. This few hours of travel is starting to really suck! But relax, read, journal, etc. because it is only one and one half hours. OOPS....slight miscalculation...Three hours and fifteen minutes. No air was blowing through as the door was closed. People would go up to the door, notice someone sitting against the other side and go back to their seats. lisa, the strong American woman, goes to complain and a crew member asks the people on the other side to move. Some relief but still SWELTERING!!! The Tanzanians just sat there through the whole ordeal and put up with it. Is this why they have 102 tribes that never fight but have Indians running the businesses, the Germans and English colonizing them and more people outside of Tanzania making money on Tanzanite than do the native people?

....POLICE CORRUPTION

Occasionally we hear of police corruption in the states. Usually regarding the big dollars related to drug busts. Here it's about the traffic police. Once on the safari and several times in taxis we were stopped at check points where an official looking person would look over the taxi's papers, inspect their insurance stickers, and look for broken tail lights, etc. We were told if everything didn't match up they would attempt to fleece the driver out of money. Nothing huge, but maybe $20 to $30. Not much for us in the States, but big enough here to argue about. But to be stopped almost everytime we were in a taxi is ridiculous. Someone said the police can barely support their families on their wages so this is how they make up the gap. The most blatant corruption I experienced was at the Zanzibar airport. I was alone at the security tunnel where your bags go through the x-ray machine. A woman dressed in a black Muslim outfit asks what I have in my bags. I tell her, she passes the bags through, then looks at me and says “TIP”!!!, rubbing her fingers together. I didn't want to upset her (and risk that she might "do something" to our luggage) so I paid her 2000 TSH (about $1.60 US). Can you imagine a TSA agent at Greater Cincinnati International Airport rubbing their fingers together or they wouldn't pass your bags!!

....NEAR TRAGEDY

We were proceeding through the Zanzibari village of Bububu (great name, huh?) on the way to a tour of a spice farm. Our driver, Ali, a gentle smiling man a bit older than me (with ten kids and seventeen grandchildren), wound his way pleasantly along. We passed a dalla-dalla, a small bus crowded with people, on our left when we heard a “clunk”. I looked back and saw a small child, probably three years old limp to the side of the road and then collapse. WE HIT HER!!!! Quickly adults came to her attention. Her legs were straightened out. I saw one person was wiping her eyes but deduced later that it was blood. A man quickly picked her up, cradled her in his arms and ran to another dalla-dalla. It was going to the hospital. Ali was clearly upset. People came up to him, some questioning, some comforting. We headed out of our parking space and headed for the police station. He called his son who took us to the spice farm. As we left we expressed feelings to him that we were sorry it happened but it wasn't his fault. In all his years of driving he had never hit anyone. Good ending - the little girl was OK with just a head injury.

1 comment:

Sophia said...

I like Lisa's version MUCH better! Can't wait to hear all about India....