So it is safe to say I had my first true African experience this morning. On my way to Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi my taxi driver was pulled to the side just outside of the entrance. I figured due to the increased tension in East Africa right now that this was a routine random check. 4-5 police officers surrounded the car. One reviewed his stickers on the car and another took his ID and other forms of proof that he was in fact legit. Another officer came by my window and tapped on it. The window didn’t work so I opened the door. He asked me…wait no, he actually TOLD me I wasn’t wearing my seat belt so he would have to take me down to the police station where I would have to pay a fine.
I told him I could not as I had a flight to catch in 2 hours. He wasn’t very confident in demanding that I get out of the car so I took it that he only wanted a bribe from me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out $5 USD. His eyes lit up and helped himself inside the taxi to finish the deal. After I was ready to hand it to him one of the other officers said something to him in swahili and he immediately got out of the car and my driver was given the OK to continue on.
Well, apparently I handled the situation well. I took the bribe money and held it in the air and told him he could have it and in doing this it caused civilians, other officers and his BOSS off in the distance to see it so they told him to not take it. My driver said it wasn’t that they didn’t want him taking my bribe but it was too blatent and they could have gotten in a lot of trouble.
So, my first dealing with corrupt officials ended well for me. I have to admit after that I was feeling very confident in my travels.
Not so fast though.
I arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this afternoon. I don’t want to post too much because I haven’t really had a chance to explore the city and want to give it a fair shot. Tomorrow is Christmas day so I decide to use it as another travel day and will be heading north to Lake Tana and the town of Bahir Dar by hired vehicle. I won’t be back to Addis for a little while.