An entry from Camille’s diary (November 2014)
We just got robbed today in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We did an Airbnb last night and right when we got out of the apartment at 8am the next morning, a guy asked if we needed a taxi, we said yes and he got his car, which by the way wasn’t a taxi but we still got in thinking that it’s normal. We’ve got into cars all the time that weren’t taxis, so it wasn’t anything unusually for us. We told him we wanted to go to the ferry to Zanzibar, we left and after a few seconds he picked up another guy saying it was his brother and that he works at the ferry. It was a bit odd but we went through with it being nice people. Went to a street/ alley whatever you wanna call it (nothing different, it was early so everything was bright) they said it was a shortcut and that apparently it was blocked because of construction so he had to turn back. As he turned, he was driving really slow and pulled the car to the side, two guys approached the car from outside, came in and told us to squeeze in. We’re being robbed.
We were squeezed in the back while two of the guys said they weren’t gonna hurt us, they just wanted money. They asked for all our money and wallet so we took it out and gave it to them. A few days ago we just withdrew money in Kenya and then withdrew again in Tanzania so we had a decent amount of cash. They took all of it, took our wallets, went through them and got our credit cards and ATMs. They asked if we had more money and we said no because that’s all we have. After this, the other guy changed positions with the guy in the back so he tried to squeeze himself in while the other guy jumped in front. He searched our bags inch by inch and as he was doing this I tried to move my phone under the pouch in my small bag discreetly thinking that’s the only way we could contact anyone if they take everything away. They took all the money in every single pocket in our bags.. We had USD, Chinese Yuan and several other currencies. Every single electronic device we had they took out. As this was all happening, one of the guy asked if we were either Christians or Muslims, we told them we are Christians and he responded “we’re the same” ( what the f*** !! Are you kidding me???!! We are far from being the same! Excuse my language) They took the laptop, the camera and their respective chargers. They asked about the Kindle, if there were games in it and I said it’s all books, they asked about both our iPads and if you can put a sim inside and I said no so they ended up not taking those. They asked about the GoPro and we told them it’s broken so they left it with us as well. They said they need more money coz there were four of them and we told them we gave them all we have. Then they started asking for our phone ( I hid it), I told them we don’t have one and we don’t carry one. He asked how we communicate and we said we don’t. We do everything online. One guy said “don’t f—–g lie to us, we know your lying” they continued to search every inch of the bag and they still couldn’t find it. I tried holding my small bag so I can control the search somehow.. He finally gave up searching and then I started crying (fake cry ofcourse) and told them my mother just died..(thinking they’d give up out of sympathy) as all of this was happening Mark was begging them to just drop us off but they continued saying they need to get more money. As I continued crying one guy said were not gonna hurt you we just need to get money from you and he said he respects us and so he offered his hand as an agreement, shook my hand and promised nothing bad will happen. (Not sure how I’d feel after that coz I’m not sure what he meant: in my head: BAD THINGS ARE ALREADY HAPPENING!!).
They continued speaking Swahili as if their arguing then I started crying again just begging them to take us to the ferry. They said we are going to the ferry and pointed at the ocean but we’re obviously not going anywhere near the ferry, I cried still and finally they told me to shut up and stop crying since they’re apparently weren’t doing anything wrong like hurting, touching or slapping us (I guess as robbers, they’re flawed with the idea of “wrong” or what it means for that matter: in my head: THIS IS FREAKING ‘WRONG’ you idiots!!) and they said otherwise if I don’t stop they’ll bring us to their camp…We thought at that point we were effed, or at least I did. I calmed myself down while they took us to different places and kept parking the car every so often in some random spot. They took us to an alley which was conveniently right across a Barclay’s Bank. They asked for the pin for each card we had (we have a bunch of and ATMs with us but we just told them saying that most of it especially the credit cards doesn’t have pins and that they can’t take cash from it. They took Mark’s China bank card which didn’t have anymore money and our PSBank which had some money, an account we use in the Philippines. We were scrambling with the pin, first try he didn’t get any money and apparently we gave the wrong pin. They kept asking for more money but we didn’t have anymore. They threatened that if we don’t give them the right pin, the bank will eat the card and so they will keep us longer. We gave them the same pin and tried another one just in case we got it wrong. He tried for the 2nd time and I think he finally took some money out or at least that’s what we thought. We asked if it worked he didn’t say anything.. They told us they will just drop us of. They pointed out where the real taxis were and drove to another alley. They put all the things back in our bags, gave all our credit cards back and even the ATM cards that they took money out off. They kept on driving in the same loop we went to and we kept asking if they could just drop us off. They said they will, they kept speaking Swahili and seemed like arguing about where they would drop us off. Finally they drove to another alley around the area and dropped us of, helped us with our bags and gave us some cash back.
We kept walking fast and finally found a taxi (a real one) forgot to ask the name of the place we came from and asked him if he can drop us off at the ferry. I cried on the way (a real cry this time) maybe 3 times. It was overwhelmingly scary. I feel paranoid. Got to the ferry, bought a ticket and asked where the closest police station is. Went there, met Patrick the investigator then wrote a report. Our ferry came. 2.5 hours later…. were in Zanzibar.