To Mwanza: Land of Pride Rock(s)

After posting my last entry I left the Holiday Inn and walked into a downpour. The streets of Dar es Salaam had turned into small rivers and lakes, and I was skeptical that Waziri could get us to the airport in time for my flight. Africa time was on my side this time, and we discovered that my flight was in fact 3 hours later than I had previously thought. Hooray? The check-in process was painless though, and I had plenty of time organize my lesson plans.

The plane I boarded was a bright orange Canadair prop plane (didn’t they go out of business 15 years ago?) on a local airline called Air540. Small regional flights like these always put me on edge, but my seat was too comfortable too resist and I slept through the whole trip. When I awoke I discovered that the clouds had cleared up. I looked out the window to see a vast plain bordering Lake Victoria sprouting with small outcroppings of rocks. As we got closer they began to bear an eerie resemblance to the famous Pride Rock from The Lion King. There were huge boulders emerging from the grassland in spectacular forms and clusters. Of course, the Serengeti is the inspiration for the film, but that didn’t stop me from trying to pick out the real Pride Rock from all the imposter rocks.

We flew into gorgeous sunny day at Mwanza International Airport. The name hypes it up a bit, as the terminal’s “baggage claim” was simply the porch you stood on until a guy on a tractor delivered your bags. I discovered that Mwanza is called the Rock City, because of the rocky terrain. At last I met Suzana outside of the terminal, where she had been waiting for the past 3.5 hours! We took a cab from the airport to the Mwanza central bus terminal (Buzuguru Station???), and passed through the so-called Rock City. Boulders were strewn throughout clusters of houses, and were frequently used as billboards or household furniture.

Once at the bus station we booked a couple tickets and sat down for a quick lunch. I had delicious fried plantains and chicken with a spicy salsa/chutney thing, chased with lime and salt. Made me wonder if Tequila was a central ingredient. Unfortunately we had to run out of lunch early to catch the bus, but at least I had the wherewithal to take some pictures on this leg of the journey.

Suzana and I boarded the bus to Lamadi and I spent the next two hours wishing I hadn’t finished that Coke at lunch (or instead remembered to visit the restroom). After an eternity of teaser stops for speed-bumps, one-lane bridges and police checks, we finally pulled into Lamadi. The large town/small city was bustling with activity, and for those of you with experience in Ghana, it reminded me of a super-sized version of Fotobi. Suzana pointed out the Zariki school, in a small town about 3 miles SW of Lamadi, and we began discussing logistics for the programs. Upon arrival I took a brief rest stop at the Fly Emirates Lodge, a budget and traveler friendly hotel on the main stretch. I reconvened with Suzana and Justin, another teacher at Zariki, for dinner, where I enjoyed an ad hoc Swahili lesson over tasty Sato??? Stew (Tilapia). We talked about the program, Lamadi, their history with Paige and her father Rich, and Tanzanian culture until nightfall.

That brings me to now, where I am currently finishing this blog entry under the mosquito net in my hotel room. I promise I’ll get more pictures of Lamodi, Mwanza and the Zariki school, so check back soon! Until then, let me just share my sentiments from the trip so far:

Hakuna Matata! (no worries!)

-Clay

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