Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dar Es Salaam

What to say about Dar? I was only there for three days, 2 nights before I left for Zanzibar, so maybe I didn't give it it's fair shake, but those three days were eventful enough. When I got there, I had high hopes, because compared to the other big cities I've trudged, it wasn't real junky or trashy looking. But that was early morning, and as soon as the place woke up, it was changed. Eventful? To be fair, in Johannessberg and Maputo I was with some friends when I walked around. Here I am on my own. I hate big cities, even at home, and I've done good so far avoiding them, but I wasn't about to not check it out, since I was there. On my first day I walked around down town, telling countless people "no" when they tried selling me stuff. It is unavoidable however, as the streets are lined with vendors. I had heard of this happening before, so when a guy stopped me (got right in my face) and wanted to be my best friend by shaking my hands and not letting go, I knew what was up. Luckily I had learned before this lesson, so when he put his hand out for the shake, I just gave him a quick high-five, then shot my hands to my pockets. Sure enough, there was a hand already in there. With my Other hand I spun on the guy and grabbed him by the neck and slammed him to the side walk. I quickly put his arm behind his back and searched his hand for my stuff, then quickly moved to the side so my back was to the wall, ready to take on his friends. The guy got up, and him and two friends (or just whitey haters) started my way. By that time, I'm thinking.. oh damn. Well screw it, they are small(ish), I'll take them all down as long as no one else joins the fun; so I start yelling come on! bring it! ( I also resolved that no matter what happened, I was not losing my backpack.) Then out of nowhere, two 350lbs old ladies come charging into the ring and end the ordeal by yelling god knows what to the thieves, then taking one by the ear and taking him away. Funny thing that.. Guy had to be 30... I remember gramps hauling on my ear like that when I was maybe 12. The next day, while walking down the same street, probably 100 people recognised me and would heer and yell "big boss" or "king of Dar" or "John Cena". I was a celebrity. Didn't stop the hustling though.. "Hey big boss, want buy a coke"?
When I got back to my hostel that night, some older lady from South Africa told me another story. A week earlier, she was sitting on the curb and 2 guys ran up and took her bag and took off. They got away with everything she owned: clothes, laptop, camera, passport, cash, credit cars, etc. The South Africa embassy only gave her about $30 to last the month until her passport arrived.
Then on our second day in Dar (mine and my new English friend), my London mate Jason, was attacked. He got into a marked, licenses cab, and told them to head to the Ugandan embassy, so he could get a visa. Part way there they stop and a guy in a nice suit gets in, asking if they can share fares ( which is common). Along the way, the guy starts asking weird questions and freaks Jason out. Luckily for him, after being in Africa for 18 months, he had learned to switch the child safety switch off, that is located in the door jam. The switch makes it so you can't open the door from the inside. Well when the cab stopped, he started to get out because of the creepy guy, when another guy jumps out of another cab (that must have been following) and trys to push J back into the car, all while Mr. suit pulls on his bag, trying to take it. It was 2 on 1, the driver of both taxis just watching, but J put up a good fight by grabbing one guys throat, and kicking suit in the face. A "good" cabbie then pulls up and scares the thieves away. Not sure what would happen if he hadn't got bad vibes from the guy before they could get to a secluded area, or if he hadn't turned off the switch. He was ok though, other than lost glasses and torn shirt.
When he went to the police station to make a report, (insisted upon by the "good driver") he said all they did was write down a few things and not do a thing else. while he was waiting however, he was able to get a little entertainment in the form of two criminals running from the back, jumping the counter and dashing out the front door. The fat cops just blew their whistles and gave a few trotting strides in the general direction. Gallant effort chaps.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, scary to get into a fight like that! Glad you guys know what is up and can avoid getting robbed like that. They were probably shocked when you took them all on - no wonder you became a celebrity. I can just imagine the scene of the two ladies hauling them off by their ear! Lol. Stay safe! :)