Thursday, July 24, 2008

near danger... averted.

i went on another walk tonight... in the other direction from the hotel this time. it was a beautiful evening (still is), and i'm trying to soak up my last couple days in dar before i head back to malawi on sunday. so, a walk on the beach.

after a while, these two guys come up to me.

"excuse me, how are you."
he grabs my hand, tries to hold it - not uncommon in africa, but usually after you know someone first.
"i'm very fine, how are you?"
"we are just wondering, if you know that it is against the law, what you are doing now."
"what?"
"this beach area, it is against the law to take photographs here."
i pull my hand away, back up a step.
"i..."
"this man here, he is a police officer"
(they are both dressed in old tshirts, shorts, and flip flops)
i think for a minute...
"you guys are crazy."
i start to walk away.
"excuse me, sir. we have told you this, now you must stand up some words. you should be punished, you are breaking the law."
i turn my back to them, start walking away. they follow me.
"sir, excuse me, we must now go to the police station."
i walk quickly, looking down at my feet - i'm about 10min from my hotel, but on the main road. i know that if i just stay walking, ignore them, don't say anything, they'll give up.
but they keep following.
i cross the street. heart beating a little faster now. they're not walking as fast as me, but they're still following.
i know that these kind of guys are a little unpredictable, but usually get bored quickly. they're still following.
if i can just make it back to the hotel, i'll be fine.
"excuse me" (louder, from 100ft or so behind me) "we have said this to you, now you must stand up some words... we go to the police station"
i can see my hotel ahead.
i turn into the gate of the hotel - the luxury of safety, the protection given foreigners with money, is apparent.
they don't follow me inside.

now, i'm back in my room, writing about it on my blog.

i was never really THAT scared, i knew what to do, but it's good to remember that things are different here. everywhere in the world has its own set of customs, accepted behaviors. here, taking pictures of random people at the beach might be culturally unacceptable. maybe this was just tanzania's way of telling me that.

zanzibar will probably be the same way, at least. but to me, the benefits outweigh any potential inconvenience such as tonight. the economics of traveling by yourself in africa. don't worry, mom, i'll be careful. =)


the pictures from tonight.











that last one is by far my favorite of the bunch.

5 comments:

Les said...

Eric, Glad you are safe, keep an eye on your back side son!

Love ya

Dad

Anonymous said...

http://www.freewheelchairmission.org

Have you read about this organization? I love this idea, and have been supporting it and kiva for a while now. Maybe you can link to it?
Found kiva through you, btw. :)

Jennifer said...

Mom was going to stress out with this post until you left her a personal message at the end. I can just see her now...I'm glad you remembered her.
And I'm glad you are safe.
It was great hearing your voice this week!
Love you bro!

Jennifer said...

ps- Patrick and I love the photos from tonight.

Janet said...

My prayers are with you!
You have that strong Holthaus blood line son....
and yes, it WAS God telling you to make better choices for taking photos :)...but they are great son.
It was soooooo good to hear your voice..I love you...