Who knew I could get away with so much? This place is supposed to be where I come from, and yet so much of it is disconnected from me. I just hear words I’ve heard my whole life, but have never been able to put visuals to. Mapera. Guava. Or the nickname of a villager in my parents’ town whose head was shaped as such. I was so far away. So fragmented. Yet, my bestie and I, she who has been living in Tanzania for the last 10 months, are standing in front of the immigration guy trying to trick him into letting her get on the ferry back to Dar es Salaam with a resident ticket. Not only that, but he’s falling for my half hearted charm!
Laila, bless her soul, is cheap. I can’t explain the times I’ve been embarrassed by how cheap she can be. This, however, does not stop me from adoring her. More so, it was an absolute advantage to have someone haggle over 100 Tanzanian schillings, or 75 cents USD. She saved me tons of money. Her Swahili also convinced many of her resident status, and so to save $20, she lied, and said her resident card was at home, and charmed her way into a discounted ticket. The only disadvantage stood in front of us: the power hungry immigration officer granting us exit visas from Zanzibar, and requiring both passport and boarding ticket. Fuck. Hers is green (resident) and mine is gold (foreigner). I give her mine, she gets her stamp and runs away. Double fuck. What they hell am I supposed to give him?
God bless my Canadian passport.
“Where you from?”
“What you do there?”
Now, I’m not the girliest girl. I mean, I paint my nails and appreciate my hair being brushed, but using my sexuality to my own advantage has never been a strong suit. I will say, however, there is one tactic I have mastered and that is looking into people’s souls with my big, brown, innocent-looking eyes. FLICK! Let the games begin!
“I work at a bank.”
“What bank? Barclays?” (Because if I work in a bank it has to be Barclays?)
“No it’s a much smaller bank.”
“What you do in Zanzibar?”
“Visiting. My family is from here.”
I flip through my handy dandy notebook and produce my clearly used an old arrival ticket.
“You speak Swahili?”
“No. Not really. I’ve learned a few words.”
STAMP! Mr. Asshole Immigration Officer hands me my passport and ticket still chuckling. Where’s Laila? Hiding. Shocked I got away with it.