“A New Continent” Pandemic Prowling #21

About Pandemic Prowling: In this series, Pandemic Prowling, I share stories about my travels across 4 continents (Asia, N. America, S. America, Africa) amidst the outbreak of Covid19.

(October 2020)

Westward To Africa

After having gotten my covid test to go to Tanzania last post, it was time to move on and get to where I planned on getting to. Against the wishes of all my family members, I was going to Africa. It would be a long journey going from San Francisco to Washington DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before finally reaching Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

The flights themselves were fairly uneventful, before flying to Ethiopia I was briefly asked to present a negative covid test, which I had, but I wanted to experiment with not giving it to them. I was only having a brief layover there and lo and behold, they dropped the subject and I went on my way.

A layover in Ethiopia

Welcome To Tanzania

From Ethiopia flying into Dar Es Salaam, I had my first encounter with African immigration officers. At this point I had learned a little bit of the local language (Swahili) from online self study, but at the first chance to use it, I stumbled.

I was a complete oddity in this strange land and the officers looked at me with suspicion, ordering to see this person and that before after 8 passport inspections, they stamped me into Tanzania.

I looked down on the visa and noticed it was for only 30 days, and I thought to myself that the embassy promised 90. I asked the officer and he told me matter afactly (after getting the stamp) that I can go to the immigration office to extend it later. Seemingly without option, I complied and went about my day.

It was a bit of a shock when leaving the airport, no one had a mask, no one. And everyone stared at me because I looked different. I shook it off and continued trying to find a ride into town. I struggled with the rideshare app as going out of the airport meant losing the WiFI (I had no data in a new country). Eventually a man on a motorbike told me to get on his bike. I assumed that he was my driver and obliged.

Now this fellow proceeded to drive fairly recklessly (as a frame of reference I’ve had my share of motortaxi rides). I even lost my hat when it flew off my head (no helmet of course). Pretty soon, I knew he wasn’t my driver as he had no idea where he was going, asking for directions from this person and that.

After a very tiring, needlessly long and bumpy ride, we reached my accommodation. I handed him what he was owed according to the app (Bolt) but he refused, demanding quadruple. I was baffled.

Being quick enough on my feet, I went and told him I’d be right back, recognizing that me as a foreigner without the local language it would be futile with me arguing with him. With a distressed look, I knocked on the door of the guesthouse I’d be staying in for assistance. The fellow inside was kind, and sorted out the issue with the driver.

From there I could rest easy for the night and gather myself before taking on my first full day in Africa (alone) tomorrow.

2 thoughts on ““A New Continent” Pandemic Prowling #21

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