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Tanzania - Dar es Salaam

19.02.98 - Dar es Salaam

Got up earlyish considering how tired we all still were. My Visa card cancellation took priority since my insurance only covered costs incurred for 24 hours after theft took place. We didn't even have a map of the city (my TLP guide was stolen with my bag) though fortunately someone in the restaurant we had breakfast in was able to point us towards the tourism office.

We headed out and eventually found the 'information centre' which was pretty minimalist to say the least, but at least we got a map out of them and they directed us towards a larger office elsewhere in the city. All my attempts to cancel my card were in vain since no-one in Tanzania uses international credit cards since the exchange rates suck so much (there is an 'official' exchange rate that is well below actual FX rates). No-one was affiliated with Visa, so no-one could cancel my card.

We went to the information office and amongst the various other questions we asked them, I asked where I could cancel my card. I was directed towards a small travel agency with a 'Visa Assistance Point' that proved to be completely useless. Even with my card number, name, expiry date and the name of the bank the card was ordered through, they were unable to cancel my card. (I would have thought cancelling a stolen credit card should be the easiest thing in the world to do).

Next I went to the Police. I was expecting bad things from the Tanzanian Police force but they were actually quite helpful (if a little incompetent). They insisted on opening a case file (even though I was quite sure they would never catch the person who stole my stuff) so I had to file a full report with them which took a long time and I had to deal with about 5 different people through the course of it.

Eventually my report was filed but I was told I would have to come back the next day to get the report I needed for insurance. By this stage we had established that we would not be able to go to Zanzibar Island (off the coast of Dar) anyway, so sticking around in Dar wasn't a big issue. I gave the police a copy of my note from the bus company (even though they insisted they needed the original). I met up with Brad at the copy centre and we went to try and cancel the Visa again and check on the plane tickets while Joe went out to the TAZARA (Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority) station to get the details on a train to Zambia.

After failing again to cancel my Visa (I could only cancel it for transactions with Barkleys Banks in Tanzania) I was getting desperate.. I tried to send some e-mail home but the phone-lines at the e-mail place were down so I couldn't send any, it looked like phoning home was my only choice even though it was insanely expensive. I went to the telecommunications office and I bought 1minute of time to call Australia (which cost about AU$8). I picked up the phone and dad answered - the content of the conversation was basically "Hi Dad, I'm fine and I've got money, but could you please cancel my Visa card. *click*"

We somehow met up with Cas and Paul (two of the people we were on Safari with) on the streets of Dar and we arranged to meet up with them later for dinner near their hotel. Me and Brad met back up with Joe at the hotel and hung around for a bit (I threw some of my clothes in a bucket to soak for a few hours) before heading out for dinner with Cas and Paul and a couple of other girls at 6pm.

We had a nice big dinner and got their TLP off them to copy so we had a clue about what we would be doing for the next week or so of travelling through Africa. Headed back to our hotel late-ish to finish washing and get some sleep for another early start the next day.

20.02.98 - Last Day in Dar

Got up early, packed, had breakfast (free!) and walked to the Police station with my reference number to finish up with business there. I had been told to get there early because I would be leaving at 5pm (which sounded ominous) so I made sure I was there by 9am. It took me a while to track down the right PC to handle my case, finally 5 police men and women joined forces to write the 50 word report which took an hour to complete in all.

According to the police I needed to get the report signed by an Australian Ambassador. I was pretty darn sure there wasn't an Australia Embassy in Dar es Salaam but I didn't argue with them. I took the report to the British High Commission but they told me they couldn't handle it because Tanzania is a Commonwealth country or something... No, I don't get it either. Anyway, I took it to the Canadian Embassy and they stamped and signed my report and told me there really wasn't any need for it after all.

I met Joe and Brad back at an Internet Cafe we had found that actually worked and we sent a few messages, later meeting Cas and Paul again. Me and Joe headed to the wood markets at Mwepe where we both bought some cool stuff and headed back to meet everyone back at the Safari Inn to have lunch. Cas and Paul had bought some Gold Sambucca (with gold leaf floating around in it) which we all drank as a goodbye drink and then headed for the TAZARA train with an insane taxi driver.

The train left on time (woah!) and we had dinner a couple of hours later with an English guy and his Canadian friend in the dining car. Dinner was slow to arrive and expensive but nice. I sat next to a couple of wanna-be homeboys from Zambia who wore their virtually matching Nike T-Shirts and Caps with pride (I don't think they realised they looked like idiots).

21.02.98 - On the Train to Zambia

We slept well on the comfortable beds in our cabin (if you have the choice between travelling by train or bus in Africa, take the train!!) and I didn't really get out of bed until around 11am. Since then I just had a bit of a wash-up, had a snack to eat and sat in the bar-car and wrote my journal for over two hours. I'm surprised I didn't get writers cramp!

This train is pretty cool, we're in a second class cabin (which just means there are 6 beds instead of 4 in first class). I didn't even want to think about third class from its bad reputation, but it turned out that they were just seats not in cabins, just like European trains really! I love trains, the food is good, the people are nice and the scenery is terrific - never going to catch a bus in Africa again if I can help it!

Document: 980219.shtml
Published: 13.08.98
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