Rhys Darby
Comedian Rhys Darby on life in New Zealand

Rhys Darby: Tourist trap close call - Let me out, or I'll scream

An encounter with a Tanzanian shop keeper fails to ruin mission.

Rhys Darby met entrepreneur Lucas in Tanzania, to whom he is giving a micro loan to help his business self-sufficiency as part of a World Vision trip.
Rhys Darby met entrepreneur Lucas in Tanzania, to whom he is giving a micro loan to help his business self-sufficiency as part of a World Vision trip.

Africa Travel Diary - episode two: Tanzania Oh yeah!

After roughly 40 hours of travel time we touched down at the Kilimanjaro airport. There's nothing like travelling half way around the globe with two children to really test your soul.

This sounds bad but thankfully my 3-year-old was ill so he slept a lot of the time and only gently moaned for the rest. Once we'd passed through the final baggage claim the Kiwi Kili team were piled into a dodgy bus for the final push, an hour's worth of road buzz to the East Africa Hotel. There we were greeted around midnight with watermelon drink and home-made pizzas.

The next day we visited a local craft market. You could tell it was a tourist trap by the carpark full of white people dressed in cargo pants.

Unfortunately my experience here was not great.

There were lots of tiny shops the size of walk-in wardrobes, each one pretty much selling the same stuff. Wooden hand-crafted animals, tin Jeeps, leather drinks coasters and assorted bead jewellery.

I found some of the shop keepers quite aggressive. After losing sight of my wife and kids I was shuffled into a store and handed some items to look at closely.

"Yes." I said, "very nice." And then the bargaining began.

I really didn't have any idea how much things were worth and after offering US$15 for a coaster pack I was promptly told "No way, c'mon man these are genuine leather!"

I realised I was being physically blocked from leaving the store. Feeling vulnerable on my own and bullied (this was the third time he'd handed me stuff and not accepted my price) I suddenly panicked like a claustrophobic in a sleeping bag, "Let me out!" I said.

He didn't move, so I followed it up with a "Let me out or I'll scream!" and barged my way past. In hindsight I felt bad about that encounter. Perhaps that's why later on I purchased a tie made out of beads from a store four doors down.

On day three World Vision took us on the road in a set of Land Cruisers. We travelled for a couple of hours through a savannah landscape encased by distant hills.

Finally we arrived at Magugu village and I met the entrepreneur I'm giving a micro loan to. Lucas is a lovely chap who sells petrol out of 1.5 litre soda bottles, repairs bicycles and farms during crop season. With his loan money he will purchase safer fuel containers.

I had the pleasure of meeting his wife and five children. Thanks to World Vision Micro helping his business he can afford to send his beautiful kids off to school. This day was as good as I could have hoped it would be.

- NZ Herald

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