|from the Internet.. A typical ride for Mary|
In Dar Es Salaam I mossied down to the dock one day to check it out and get ferry prices. That is where I met an inspirational old lady named Mary. In my eyes, she was the ultimate hippie; from her dress on down to her demeanor. She was about 60 and had no job, and for the last 20 years had lived around docks and ports around the world, hitchhiking on ships(!) around the globe. At the time I was wondering, ironically, if it was possible to go from Kenya to Egypt by ship, bypassing Sudan. I've heard of it happening. So when she mentioned what she does, I was instantly all ears. I told her that if she would follow me to the nearest drinking hole, I would love to buy her a few drinks just to get her story.
Apparently it was hard for her the first few years "ship hitching", as captains for multi-million dollar ships didn't usually like taking on strangers, for insurance reasons and what not. She said the key to it was to make and maintain contacts in the industry, which she said took her 10 years. She said by that time, she had taken so many rides between Africa and Asia that many many captains and crew knew her by name. She wold just go to the places she knew the captains to frequent when in port, find out who was going her way, or at least an interesting way, then get hired on as a kitchen help or whatever. I was pretty amazed at her stories, don't know too many, well none, that have been to almost all the ports in south east Asia and eastern Africa, with no money. At the time she said she was getting kind of tired of Tanzania, and was thinking of getting over to India. She also wanted to show me how it's done.
We went down to the docks and sure enough we didn't go far when important looking people in captains uniforms and other boat crews started saying Hi Mary! Hi Mary! Every two minutes! She was more popular than Bob Marley. I couldn't believe that all these guys from around the world knew her just by sight. She would respond "Hi Charles, haven't seen you in a few years, hows the wife?" This lady could write a great adventure book with all her stories. It was awesome. Maybe I'll try it someday. That would be an amazing feat, taking a huge container ship over seas.