Arusha Project


The Dala Dala: An Adventure
July 15, 2009, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Here in Arusha, the dala dala is the form of public transportation.  It’s physical appearance is a white van, with a specific color stripe distinguishing what direction it’s heading.  Each has it’s own name and/or theme.  Favorites have included “In Da Club”, with 50s painted on every window, “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Cupcake”, etc. There are anywhere from 12-16 seats inside.  Certain seats fold down to allow the brave traveler to move to the very back when “muisho!” is yelled at them.  For a muzungu (foreigner), the adventure begins before we even step inside.  Dala dala drivers and conductors fight to lure the volunteers into their dala dala, believing they might pay a higher fare.  Tactics range from arguing with other drivers, blocking entrances to other dala dalas so you’ll climb in theirs, or trying to be friendly.  Once inside, we hope to get a seat.  Tanzanians do not have the same concept of personal space as Americans do, we’ve discovered. Especially when everyone wants to get the same place, what’s one more person?  So typically a dala dala ride results with you half sitting on someone else, or someone half sitting on you.  Often if you look up, there will be someone’s face smiling down at you, because they’re standing and leaning over the people lucky enough to have seats.  When you wish to exit, you must tell the driver your stop and hope they understand you, or just bang on the metal interior long enough that they realize you wish to exit.  After climbing over everyone (if they don’t have to exit too so you have enough room to manouver out the door), you hope both feet hit the ground before the van starts moving on swiftly to the next destination.

 

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