Safety First, Part 1
The embassy community does not joke around about safety. There are safety measures for just about everything you can imagine. Boy, are they cumbersome (and that’s without actually remembering to do them in the first place). Truthfully, I was not altogether on board with the procedures when we first arrived. You know the alarm in the back of your head that goes off when you realize you are in a less-than-safe environment? I don’t have that alarm.
But that was before I attended the embassy’s safety briefing, a requirement for employees and their spouses. Yowzers. We heard about all the horror stories: guards conspiring with housekeepers; pedestrians throwing themselves in front of your car to get a payoff; muggers who discover you carry nothing, so they take your clothes. I left the briefing thinking it was wise to carry at least something of value (cough**cough**camera), lest the thieves leave you naked in the street.
Paranoia that resulted from the safety briefing took at least a month to wear off. This wearing off process was a good thing because Tanzanians really are lovely. Plus, paranoia leads to isolation which leads to two boring years abroad. Slowly and cautiously, we began to visit the places NOT recommended by the safety officers. We’ve had a tremendously rich time doing those things, and shockingly, we’ve returned home fully clothed each time.
Don’t get us wrong, we have retained a healthy amount of skepticism, and that too is good. In an environment where it is impossible for westerners to blend in, we always take precautions. However we employ discernment that sometimes leads to suspicion and sometimes to trust. That’s where we are now. And that is why we have decided to face one final (and neighboring) fear, Coco Beach.
Coco Beach is a block from home. The message is clear: do not go there. We drive by it everyday and it’s beautiful. On Saturday, we watch the mass exodus of locals leaving their homes as if heading to the promised land. They appear to be having loads of fun and we feel left out. In the coming weeks, we will be visiting Coco Beach and will be writing about the experience in an upcoming post. Hopefully, pictures will accompany. If not, then my camera was stolen.