Saturday, January 15, 2011


Respect is a prominent part of the culture here. There is a special greeting for anyone who is older than you, that is “Shikamo.” For someone younger, you can say “Jambo” or “Mambo” but anyone older will expect the proper greeting. I really enjoy walking down the street and hearing so many people say hello.

On Dala Dala rides throughout Zanzibar, the bus could fill up with over 30 people. Let me remind you that this bus is about the size of a pick-up truck, with three benches lining the walls and an open back. When there are more than 12 people, you tend to get very friendly with your neighbors. If a woman gets on the bus, and there are no open seats, men and children will sit on the floor in order to make space. If she is carrying small children, she might hand one of her babies to a child or another passenger to hold for the ride. At one point, I was holding an adorable little baby—until it started crying because it was so scared of me... Since we travel in a large group, sometimes it is difficult to find room on a dala dala. In one instance, a few men got off the bus to make room for us! They said they would wait for the next one to come along.

When I went to the medical centers, I was always treated first, no matter how long the waiting line was. I was told that it was a form of respect for a foreigner. They realized that if a traveler was visiting a hospital, it must be a very serious concern, so they allow them to skip over all the local people. And the people weren't upset that I passed right by them. Some would even say “Pole, pole” which meant they were very sorry. (if you remember, 'pole pole' also means slow down... not sure how the two meanings relate, but it works over here.)

1 comment:

  1. I am glad it is a very considerate and friendly environment. It is not often you see someone giving up their seat on a NYC bus let alone get off to make room for others.

    Hopefully you won't be going to any more medical centers!! POLE! :)