Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Aga Khan Film - Africa Tour. Day 1: Dar es Salaam
Oh I so love Emirates Airlines. The flight to Dar es Salaam was so comfortable!
The chaos started at the Tanzanian visa queue. Which papers needed to be filled in? How much for visas? Where does the line start? Where does the line for those jumping the line start?
Then once you hand in your passport, forms and money, you wait...and wait....and wait. You text those waiting for you on the other side of the barrier that you will be delayed by a bit. Then text them again, you will be delayed a bit more.
When immigration is ready for you, they call you to the front. And sometimes take your photo. I was trying to see if there was some pattern to when they would take your photo. It looked like South African passport holders did not need to get their photo taken. Brits and Canadians did. Chinese as well. Then I got bored of trying to entertain myself in this way and started listening to my ipod and went back to "I'm delayed still" texts.
One and a half hours later, I got my passport back and photo taken, collected my luggage, and proceeded to exit the airport. So happy to finally see the outside world with just 5 feet to go, I was stopped by customs people who tried to assert that the DVDs I was bringing into Tanzania are subject to duties and... the duties are 50%!!! Yes, 50%! I would have paid a few % just to get out of the airport but she kept saying fifty. We bantered for 10 mins (what is 10 mins after I have been waiting for 1.5 hours?) and then she must have got bored and let me go through without charge. (She obviously hasnt queued to get a Tanzanian visa before or else she would know what boredom really is!)
Now overjoyed to get out of the airport, I forgot to takeout my camera for the "me in front of the airport sign" establishing shot. Maybe I will go back and re-enact it as I have to be at the airport on Friday as my friend arrives from London.
Airport struggles aside, it is my first time in Tanzania and it feels good to be here. This is where my mom was born and lived for many years. I hope I have a chance to explore the country a bit.