A Mirage

Almost a week has passed since I last had contact with Tony – he is like a mirage as he comes and goes in cyber space. That being said there is news and views to pass on.

Tony is in contact with the World Food Programme – his coordinator is Dominique – and he is probably in Arusha at this moment becoming familiar with the direction his life will take over the next eleven months or so.

He is doing fine. He seems to have met several wonderful Philippinos (yes, including Lennie!) that has made him determine that he would “go to the Philippines in a shot!”  In the meantime he has spent time touring the neighbourhood around his hotel in “Dar”. He writes, “I braved a walk in the neighbourhood today. I got lost. I got found. I tried again and didn’t get lost. I took street photos and I sat down and just looked about me for a long while, actually enjoying the hustle and bustle from a quiet perch on the sidewalk offset from the road. I had a cup of chai and some samosas to celebrate finding my way. I survived the odd hustler by saying ‘Hapana sana’ – I doubt these two Kiswalili words really go together but people got the message. The taxi drivers always ask you if you’d like their service but when I said ‘hapana sana’ they smiled and understood my politese. One ‘meter reader’ harassed me for taking a photo of the skyline with not a single person in the photo. He was trying to get $ from me but I defended myself with the line that Canadians would like to see these photos – that they needed to see them so as to have a better understanding of how fine a place Dar actually is…” Therefore, since Tony “found” himself, he took more walks: “I am learning to walk as though I have a purpose even when I’m totally baffled – appearance is everything. I don’t look directly at people as much in order to avoid hustlers. I begin to understand why some women will cover themselves to reduce the prying eyes and flirtations of the young men. People are slim and gracious and very tidily dressed. There is a real bustle to the streets that makes perfect sense to everyone bustling and contributes to my sense of the exotic.”

Well, I REALLY didn’t want to pass this next paragraph. I have been concerned that Tony might be becoming a lush and I think my fears are well-founded. He writes, “I wended my way back to Peter’s cheap bar . . . [and asks] . . . the two men at the table next to mine how to pronounce the word ‘mwenyeji’ (a ‘native inhabitant’). [This provided] . . . an excuse for me to practice or just plain talk with others. It turned out they were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the west of Tanzania, and they spoke French! We had a nice cold beer (I know it was only 2 pm but it was hot on my walkabout and obviously on theirs too.) and spoke French. Hubert said he would hire me if I were to volunteer in the Congo because he thought my French more than adequate. He gave me his card and said if I visited, he’d pick me up at the airport and find me a cheap hotel. Nice to have people like Peter (VSO Kenya) and Hubert to guide [me]. Hubert’s card reads ‘Official Representative JAC Motors in Katanga/DRC’ where he is the ‘Administrator Commercial Manager’. He’d just come back from Europe on business [where Hubert said it was] very cold and very hot here in Dar – hotter than the Congo.” And Tony added – as if he is trying to draw me into his nefarious activities – “Pays to go for the odd beer at 2pm. Try it!”

I think I have just figured out why Tony is a mirage . . .


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