So I had my first Dala Dala experience today. It’s certainly not my preferred form of transport, but certainly worth the experience if you want to have a real local transport experience.
Daladala Lesson 101
So the story goes like this: there was a time when the one Tanzanian shilling used to have the same value as the US dollar . At that time the price of the bus ticket was one Tshilling. And it is said that then the bus conductors would shout out loud,“dollar, dollar!” when trying to call out to the people to get on to the bus. Years later, the word daladala is the term for the most commonly used form of public transport of Dar Es Salaam, the city buses– well at least this is the story that was told to me by one of the locals that I’d met my first time in Dar.
I have a confession to make, when I imagine full experience of any new travel destination, I rather think of the luxurious activities one can do – “Top Billing Style” – because I’m worth it.But today, I had to take off my “Sandton tannie” hat to have the full experience of Dar’s Public Transport. I have to say, I have seen the city buses many a time, very often It’s packed with many people and they never look happy, rather sad and almost as if they pity themselves – not a very good way of marketing the bus at all I’m afraid. Of course I’m being harsh because they probably are very tired from a long days of work and all they care about it getting home. Still not very inviting. Apart from that, the daladalas here make the Taxis in Jozi look like Greyhound buses and the Jozi taxi drivers – angels. So to be honest, this was one experience I was going to silently let pass and never feel any regrets about it. Besides walking, as experience has taught me, is the best way to explore the area and it comes with the additional benefit of leg exercise.
I wanted to take a picture of me getting onto the bus, but how was I going to do this without attracting attention. Remember I look like a local. Because I’m black African, (even if I’m mistaken for Asian heredity every now and then) I have the advantage of being able to disguise my ‘foreignness’ provided I don’t open my mouth and speak my foreign accent English of course. Unlike Nikki, my colleague a white South African, who’s always asked where in Britain she comes from, as it’s easily assumed that she’s not African, even if her great grandmother’s mother was born in South Africa . Like I suspected, the experience was not that bad at all. I also learnt how to use the bus ( although I pray I never have to). Price: Tsh 2500 to go anywhere. The buses are colour coded for the area you wish to go to and the front of the bus like most buses in SA have their destinations written on them. In SA one has to “khomba” (use hand signals depending on where you are heading) for the taxi to stop so that you can get onto it and to get off,shout “shortleft” or “after robots”. Oh by the way it’s important that you say it properly or you might miss your stop. If you happen to say After Robots, with the so called twang, then note: you will miss your stop. Best say AFTA roboto driyva!
In Dar it’s seemed not too different. One has to know how to say it in Swahili. You shout at the conductor “Konda! Konda” to get his attention. He will then let the driver know that he must stop at the next bus stop. No random stopping allowed. That was nice to know.
That was my daldala lesson 101.
Now off to enjoy some authentic traditional Indian meal.