Becca wrote this blog before she left and asked me to post it.

Originally when the three of us knew we would need transportation from the guesthouse we were staying to the school we would serve we thought we’d buy bikes for transportation. Unlike the states bikers do not get the right of way on roads! Plus three blond Americans on the road may have been too much for the Tanzanian’s to handle! We quickly learned about the public transportatin called a “dala dala”. This seemed to be a much better option for us to use.
You may be asking “what is a dala dala?” We will post a picture at some point to give you a visual. So for now we try to paint a picture in your mind of what it is like. A dala dala is a vehicle with 3 or 4 seats per row. Think of a smaller version of a 15 passenger van. 4 seats in the back 2 rows and the next 2 rows with 3 seats each. Plus 2 seats next to the driver. On each dala dala there are two workers- the driver and the caller. The caller opens and closes the door and takes money from each passenger as they ride. Also they whistle and look for people walking who want rides. Now you may think there is a limit to how many people can fit in a dala dala. But we soon realized there is no “set number” of how many can ride at a time. Litearlly you may have 3 to 4 people standing holding onto the door.
We learned the swhaili word for “let me out here”. Shusha. This is very important to know so you make sure you get off where you need to go. Each ride is between 250 and 300 shillings (1,500 shillings is $1.00) so it was very inexpensive to use.
In the morning we would walk about a half mile to get the the dala dala stop. Usually if the dala dala driver saw the three of us walking they would pull into the road a ways and pick us up. Since we were farther out on the main road the dala dala didn’t have too many passengers when we got on. But with each stop more and more people join the ride. By the end of our route there may be between 15 to 20 people in one dala dala. We had one transfer where we got out walked to a round about in the road, crossed over and got onto the Mwanama dala dala that took us to the school and Church.
In the evenings riding the dala dala was harder to find one for the three of us to fit. In the beginning we would let the dala dala pass if it looked to full. But by the end of our time we realized it was safe even if we were the ones standing holding onto the sliding door.
We became quite proficient and learned to love the adventure each ride would bring!

One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing even more “fun” details about your times in Africa. Amazing little tidbits of cool interesting details about how you get around there.
    Glad you’re safely home now, Becca!

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